Wood. Wood is the traditional material used for windows. Wood windows can be elegant and attractive and are available in a wide variety of designs. The price varies greatly and in accordance with quality and design. Wood can be stained or painted to match the décor of the house. However, wood absorbs water, and if neglected, it can rot or deteriorate. To keep wood looking its best, regular maintenance is required.
Vinyl. Vinyl windows never require painting and are virtually maintenance free. Vinyl windows provide good insulation, are cost effective, and are available in a large selection of designs and colors. High-quality vinyl windows offer some of the best insulation available.
Aluminum. Aluminum windows offer good strength and are cost effective. They can be painted to match the color of your house. However, because aluminum is a metal and conducts heat, it is not always as energy efficient as other alternatives. It will also naturally corrode and pit.
Double-pane glass. Double-pane windows are superior to, but more expensive than, single-pane windows. The double-pane style features two parallel sheets of glass with an insulating dead air space between them. By virtue of this layer of air between the panes, double-pane windows greatly reduce the amount of heat transferred through the glass. Additionally, to make double-pane windows even more efficient, the space between the panes is often sealed and filled with an inert gas, such as argon.
Special coatings. A variety of special coatings can be applied to the glass pane during manufacturing to further reduce the amount of heat transferred through the glass. Low-emissivity glass (or Low-E glass, in industry jargon) is designed to reflect infrared heat back in the direction it came from. This means that in the summer it keeps heat out, and during the winter it keeps heat in.
Double-hung windows. Double-hung windows are designed to tilt in to allow easy cleaning from inside the house. This feature is especially nice if a ladder would be needed to clean the windows from the outside.