While glass does form the majority of a window pane—and surely choosing the best glass is important—it's important not to overlook the sashes when shopping for replacement windows. They may be small in comparison to the area occupied by the glass, but they are a vital component of the window. Your sash choice impacts the appearance, energy-efficiency, maintenance requirements, and longevity of your windows. Here's a closer look.
Choosing the Right Sash Material
There are several common sash materials, and each has its pros and cons.
Wooden sashes are certainly the most traditional option. For years, wood was the only material used to make window sashes, and it is certainly the most period-appropriate choice if you have an older home and want to preserve its historic look. The downfall of wood is that it requires frequent stripping, scraping, and re-painting or re-staining. If you don't keep up with this maintenance, rot will set in rather quickly. And even with proper maintenance, the window sashes will eventually split and break down.
Vinyl sashes are valued for their weather resistance. They are not affected by exposure to moisture or temperature fluctuations as are wooden window sashes. They come in a wide array of color choices, but they do have a very modern look. Though you can find vinyl window sashes made to look like wood, it's pretty easy to tell they're not authentic unless you stand quite far away.
Aluminum sashes are the most budget-friendly option. They don't rust or rot, so they also require little maintenance. Their main downfall, however, is that they are not very energy-efficient. Aluminum actually conducts heat, so unless you live in a very mild climate, aluminum sashes will lead to higher air conditioning and heating bills.
Wood composite sashes offer, in many ways, the best of all worlds. They're made from wood fibers mixed with a plastic or cement-like polymer. Though they look like real wood, they do not require maintenance and won't rot or decay like natural wood. Plus, they are very energy-efficient, making them a good choice in temperate climates. The primary downfall of wood composite window sashes is their price. They are almost always the highest-priced option. Many window replacement companies have their own proprietary wood composite material, so part of what you are paying for is branding and name recognition.
Customizing Your Look With Sash Options
In addition to choosing a window sash material, you should also consider various customization options to add to your windows' appeal. Sashes with a beveled or rounded edge can give your windows a more traditional appearance, whereas styles with squared-off edges look more contemporary. Thinner sashes allow the maximum amount of light into your home, while thicker ones create a cozier look.
Also take the time to carefully consider the color of your window sashes. Though many homeowners choose sashes that are the same color as their frames, this is not your only option. Choosing a contrasting color for your sashes can add a touch of elegance to your windows. You can then elect to use that same accent color throughout the rest of your home or room, creating a unified look.
Many window companies have begun selling sashes in an array of colors, from neutral whites to bright shades like rust and grass green. Of course, if you choose wooden window sashes, you can always re-paint them a different color when the time comes to redecorate or remodel.
When shopping for replacement windows, make sure you spend adequate time considering your sash options. Glass may be the majority of the window, but without the sash, you won't have a window at all!