What Type of Material is the Best for My Casement Window?
There’s nothing quite like the classical charm of a casement window. Casement windows, or crank windows - or just swing-open windows - are window panes mounted on a frame by a hinge or swivel which allows them to open inward or outward instead of going up or to the side. They evoke a classical charm back to older times when these were a preferred type of window for the ease of installation and the relatively low requirement of its parts.
Modern homes have moved on to different standards, but every house is a reflection of its owner. A new home can use an old look to feel like new again. And we have more access to a wider range of materials for the DIY renovators or the many-skilled contractors to pick from. So if you’re set on a casement window but don’t know quite what to make it out of (aside from glass) here’s a list of common materials in use today.
Wood is a very simple, but effective, material. Since the window will be displaying outward, it will add a rustic, homely charm from the outside. Having wood effects in a modern home can blend together well with brickwork or paneling on the exterior. Wood can also last longer now than it ever has with proper treatments and cares taken. Wood casement window frames can be painted as well, but will need repainting yearly to keep up with fade from weathering. Wood can also be damaged by moisture or outside threats like insects.
Like the old time records, vinyl is an enduring material that has been used to make a vast array of products meant to hold form through generations. It’s a combination of plastic and resin, two very malleable materials cooked together into one customizable form-fitting blend. Being made of plastic, it’s highly insulating and can keep the bad weather out much better, and its density also makes it good at blocking noise. It’s also a tough material that’s not likely to chip or fracture from an impact. However, vinyl isn’t best against harsh cold. If your home is somewhere with extra-cold winters, the temperature can turn the decades-long life of vinyl down a couple of notches.
Steel is the modern material for all things construction related, though usually hidden on the inside. However, steel has a fashionable quality of its own. Proper steel can stand out as sleek and shiny or dark and polished. It’s highly durable and, capable of taking on any environment with minimal maintenance or risk of repair. Steel doesn’t fear stains, insects, or warping, but it can rust. Especially on sea-facing walls, once the rust begins there’s no buffering or sanding it out. A home that stands anywhere else can make steel windows shine.
Yes, windows are made of glass, not frames. But glass is more than just a clear screen to look at things. Glass covers a wider array of materials than just the looking kind. Having a glass frame to match the glass pane makes the whole window look seamless and complete. Glass is a great insulator that can change with the temperature, meaning it’s great no matter what climate you’re in. Glass is fragile, naturally. Even the tiniest crack can escalate into a full-blown break, not to mention a crack is a means for the elements to leak in. But with proper care - and depending on the layering - this won’t be an issue.
Aluminum is more lightweight and readily available than steel in terms of cost. It can be pre-set and pressed into many kinds of designs or decorated with long-lasting colors. It’s even easy to fix since it’s malleable enough to endure most anything without breaking or fracturing. If it gets dented, just hammer it out and it’s back to normal. Not that it will dent that easily. Aluminum is famous for being light but tough. It’s what airplanes are made out of. However, it’s also highly conductive. When it’s hot or cold outside, you’ll be able to tell just how bad the temperature is by getting close to your window frame. They’re great for looks, but not so great on your heating or cooling bill.
There are plenty of other metals out there than steel or aluminum. Using a custom metal brings in a custom effect. Whether it’s a pure grade or alloy, having a metal frame gives a casement window a unique flair outside and in. Copper can maintain a unique sheen that changes over the years to a shady green. Brass can be polished to a glistening shine or matted out with a marble-like finish. All metals have different durabilities to impact, force, and temperature. Some rust easier than others, or can accrue different kinds of problems unique to their natural element. Know your metal before you frame it around the glass.
Fiberglass is the construction material of the future, today. It’s one of the most significant leaps ahead in terms of construction and industry as we know it. It’s stronger than steel and aluminum, utilizing non-degrading materials which can last decades or even a century with minimal wear or tear from the elements alone. It’s tough, harder to damage than it is to replace. It’s made of plastic and glass fibers, strands of glass so thin that they’re like hairs woven together to create a “fiber” like cloth which reinforces the surrounding material. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it because aside from an accident that will take out part of the wall fiberglass is attached to, there’s no getting rid of it. And it’s highly customizable at that.
Every material has its upsides and downsides. Many of the costs come either from maintenance for the cheaper options or the up-front manufacturing and installation of the more durable ones. Either way, these provide a casement window with the optimal framing to operate for thousands of openings and closings throughout the years.