Here on Maui, and Hawaii, the best window materials may not be the same as the rest of the country. Here we have the potential for hurricanes, salt spray, and so much more. Maui residents have to be concerned about hot humid weather to a unique extent in the context of the United States. This series will not address specific brands and models. We are going to focus on more general material and structural information.
In Hawaii, it boils down to three different materials for windowpane construction: aluminum, fiberglass, and vinyl. Aluminum is light, strong, and affordable. Fiberglass is strong and gives the appearance of a wood window at a higher cost. Vinyl is a bit weaker than the above two choices but less expensive. Vinyl insulates better than aluminum and Vinyl is cheaper than fiberglass. It’s worth mentioning that wood is usually not used in Hawaii due to its weakness to wood.
Aluminum panes see many benefits in tropical climates. The sleek modern aluminum windows are relatively new phenomena. Aluminum windows were bulky and less visually appealing in the past.
- Strength – Being that Hawaii sees far too many hurricanes, durability is paramount. Even with the long term effect of less violent winds can wear a window down, causing it to warp. Aluminum windows are very resistant to warping.
- Corrosion resistance – Aluminum is very resistant to salt and spray. When oxidation occurs on aluminum, it tends to only reinforce the aluminum’s structural strength. Aluminum can also be coated with Vinyl for additional benefits.
- Durability – Many aluminum window brands come with a lifetime warranty. It’s flexible and will revert back to its original shape when bending.
- Insulation – Aluminum is a poor insulator. This is usually a problem associated with heating but is you regularly use Air Conditioning, poor insulation can lead to long term energy costs. Some windows thermal optimizations.
- Price – Aluminum is inexpensive.
Vinyl remains the most popular window material. Because there are so many different options in vinly windows, making the right choice can be difficult.
- Strength – Vinyl is strong.
- Aesthetic variety – Again, Vinyl is the most popular window material. Many options exist to match your existing architectural style.
- Low Maintenance – Unlike wood, Vinyl won’t peel, crack, or warp. Like fiberglass, wash the frame as/if needed.
- Durability – Most manufacturers sell vinyl windows with lifetime warranties.
- Insulation – Insulated frames cause less heat transfer which will save on air conditioning cost.
- Cost – Vinyl tends to be the cheapest window material of the three discussed in this series.
- Standard – While Vinyl windows are great, they are the most common so they will feel less unique.
Fiberglass windows are strong and textures. The versatility of the material can easily bleng with most building materials: wood, concrete, plaster, etc. If one was looking to get the look of wood, but didn’t want to deal with the eventual humidity induced warpming, Fiberglass would be a great choice.
- Strength – Fiberglass is stronger than aluminum in many ways, albeit heavier.
- Durable – Fiberglass is extremely resilient to elemental damage. Rarely do fiberglass windows omit lifetime warranties.
- Versatile look – Fiberglass can blend with whatever style desired. Wood particularly can easily be emulated.
- Insulative – Save energy with fiberglass
- Low maintenance – you might have to host down the frame occasionally to remove dust and dirt. Fiberglass window frames are easy to clean.
- Lots of color choices – More choices than aluminum, maybe a bit less than Vinyl.
- Expensive – Fiberglass is the most expensive window frame material discussed in his series.
- Weight – While this could be considered an advantage. The additional weight could make window frames hard to install.