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Strong And Thrifty Fiberglass Frames

I need efficient replacement windows for my home, and I want very low maintenance ones because I am older. Do they make replacement window frames from fiberglass, like on my boat, which hold up very well?–Michael W.

It’s not a matter of getting older. Everyone would like to have low-maintenance windows that require only cleaning of the glass and an occasional inspection of the weatherstripping and hardware.

Fiberglass frames in replacement windows offer many advantages. Since the main component of the fiberglass frame is actually glass, the frame expands and contracts with temperature changes about the same rate as the glass panes themselves. Vinyl frames, which are also very low-maintenance, expand more than glass as the temperature changes.

In a window sash, the glass panes are held and sealed in the sash frame by one of various methods. If the fiberglass frames expand and contract about the same as the glass panes, there is less movement and stress where the panes fit into the sash frames. For this reason, with fiberglass frames, a dark color can be used in almost any climate or orientation to the sun.

The power of strength
Another advantage of fiberglass is its strength and impact resistance. This is particularly important with replacement windows, because the frame does not have a perimeter flange as with new construction windows. Replacement windows are often attached in the old window opening with several screws along each side.

The strength of the fiberglass allows narrower frame profiles to be used than for some other frame materials. This provides more glass area for more light and a better view outdoors. Especially for smaller windows, a thick replacement window frame can use up much of the opening.

Several window manufacturers now offer fiberglass frame replacement windows with many options. Since the fiberglass frames are painted in the factory, you have many more color selections than with many other frame materials. If you don’t like the standard colors, you can order custom colors or paint them yourself.

Since natural wood frame interiors are popular today, several manufacturers offer windows with optional real wood interior veneers attached to the strong fiberglass frame.

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Window tax credit tips

With new energy conservation tax credits available through the federal stimulus act, this is a good time to consider replacing your old windows with low-maintenance, energy-efficient upgrades. You can recover 30 percent of the cost of energy-efficient windows (up to $1,500) in 2009 and 2010. Check the IRS codes carefully because, unlike before June 2009, not all ENERGY STAR-certified windows qualify for the tax credit. You must check the actual energy performance specifications for the specific windows you plan to install.

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