Choosing The Best Materials for New Windows

When your project calls for new or replacement windows, often the homeowner is focused on style or budget. If the old windows caused problems, they might be more concerned with quality. As the architect, designer, builder, or remodeler, some deeper knowledge of window materials will help you guide them to the best choices. Designer Window Supply is your local Marvin window and door dealer. Our showroom offers an extensive array of all of Marvin’s product collections (Modern, Ultimate, Elevate and Essential) and we are always ready to help.

The first thing to establish is there is far more to the decision than what looks good or is on sale. Windows are a real investment. They increase the home’s value, can lower energy costs, and even enhance security. We help educate you to that sweet spot where our clients fall in love with the style, appreciate the value, and live happily ever after, even when they sell their home.

Windows for California Weather

Northern California gets a lot of rain and mild cool days, while Southern California gets more than its fair share of sunshine and warm days along with a corrosive coastal environment. Windows need to stand up to the climate they live in, as it’s their job to let the best of the outdoors in yet withstand and protect from harsh elements.

Best Window Materials for Southern California Homes

Low E Glass with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient

The type of glass should be the first consideration in this climate. In Southern California, where the sunshine is one of the biggest attractions, the window glass has to deliver a gorgeous view without creating a hothouse. You want glass with a Low E coating to block the sun’s radiation and reflect heat. 

Glass with a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how much radiant heat will enter. The lower the number, the better. Look for an SHGC that’s less than or equal to .27.

Pine Window Frames

Marvin windows are pine because wood scientists have found it to be the best material. It’s the least expensive wood and structurally strong. It resists pests and rot. Clients will appreciate the affordability with zero sacrifices to quality, style, or performance.

Some clients want Honduran mahogany or white oak, which is more expensive. They also can be more challenging to work with. Marvin makes windows in these hardwoods, as they are beautiful but will limit it to specific designs that they know will perform well. In the warm, dry climate of SoCal, both wood species can work. Our trusted advisors at Designer Window Supply can guide you on which window styles are appropriate in hardwoods.

Best Window Materials for Northern California Homes

Aluminum Clad Pine

In Northern California, where the weather is often damp and winters can get cold, the first consideration is window frame material. As mentioned above, pine is the gold standard for Marvin windows, and it’s especially recommended for this climate. Pine is the best option for damp weather as it resists rotting and pests and is not prone to expanding. 

In Southern California, humidity caused by the marine layer is another reason to consider clad covering to protect your wood windows. Moreover, all wood windows need regular refurbishing every 3-4 years.

Aluminum clad over pine is ideal in NorCal and SoCal. While pine does a tremendous job on its own, the added protection of aluminum on the exterior will significantly increase the longevity of the windows.

Double the Panes and Watch the U-Factor

Double-paned glass is always recommended in California, as well as a Low E coating to block the sun’s radiation. California has a NetZet energy goal for new construction in 2020 and renovation in 2025, and a home’s glazing package plays a large role in meeting that goal. For areas of California with temperature swings ranging from 90 to 40 degrees, the U-Factor measures how well the glass keeps heat inside. For colder climates, the lower the U-Factor the better the insulation. In NorCal, you want a U-Factor that’s less than or equal to .30.

Energy Efficiency and Tax Credits

Based on the figures above, windows with an Energy Star rating are kind of one-size-fits-all criteria for energy efficiency. But never go by the Energy Star rating alone. Make sure you’re also choosing the materials that work best for your clients’ specific climate.

Energy Star windows can mean significant tax credit, which can make a huge difference in your clients’ budget. Credits can be as much as $200 per window. But that can change, so always check www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits here for the latest offering and see Marvin Manufacturers’ Certification Statement

Designer Window Supply and Marvin believe windows and doors should be lasting and exciting to the homeowner long after installation. When homeowners are pleased with their choice, and those windows perform well for decades, lowering their energy bills, it’s a win-win for all of us.

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