Replacement Window Frames: Ratings and Best Qualities

With fuel and electricity bills skyrocketing, it’s no wonder that homeowners want to increase energy efficiency in the home wherever possible, and older windows can contribute significantly to energy loss.One reason for this is the choice of frames for the windows in the home. American Exteriors explains how window frames are rated and what options are available.

Window Frame Ratings

The American Architectural Manufacturing Association (AAMA) has a rating system for windows in an effort to inform homeowners and builders of the quality of window they are purchasing.The ratings are compiled from a series of tests including structural integrity, air filtration, water filtration, and forced entry.

Structural integrity ratings indicate the window frame’s ability to withstand wind and other outside pressures.The higher the rating a frame receives, the greater the amount of wind it can tolerate.Air filtration is the ability of the frame to resist air from passing through the frame and sash.This test is based on a 25-mile-per-hour wind.The lower the air filtration rating, the better the window frame is at resisting air.Water filtration tests the ability of the window frame to resist water leakage.If during the test any water leaks through the frame, the window fails the test.Forced entry tests are performed in a lab, and testers use a variety of tools to try to break in.The frame is also subjected to hundreds of pounds of force to try to force the window open while it is locked.

These ratings are an important tool for anyone who is shopping for replacement window frames. They indicate the energy efficiency of the frame as well as the safety and structural soundness of the windows in the home.

Types of Frames

There are several different types of frames available for window replacement.

  • Fiberglass, which is a moderately expensive and fairly new type of window frame, offers energy efficiency and does not swell or rot.However, the expense and the lack of availability in many areas both have negative impacts on widespread use.
  • Wood window frames offer high energy efficiency and are very easy to install, but are high maintenance and can swell, crack, or warp if exposed to the elements.
  • Aluminum frames are lightweight and durable, but are susceptible to condensation and lose heat rapidly.
  • Vinyl window replacements are priced lower than wood, aluminum or fiberglass frames.They are simple to maintain and do not have issues with outdoor elements, such as wind and rain.They can also be built to fit any size window opening.

Besides the type of window and rating system, homeowners should consider, among other factors, maintenance needs and the cost and ease of installation.Examining all variables will make it easier for any homeowner to determine which window frame choice is the right one.

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