Cold Winters, Hot Summers
The historical beauty of Boston is only matched by the harshness of its winters. Living in Boston means being ready to put up with harsh weather conditions that can affect every aspect of your house—especially your energy bill. Plenty of rain in the spring means that wooden window frames in a Boston house can be susceptible to swelling, warping, and even rot if they are not protected and maintained. Cold temperatures mean that you should make sure to get replacement window frames that are well-insulated; and should probably consider getting double-paned windows, possibly with a gas fill, to keep as much of the heat in as possible.
The above conditions apply to all of Massachusetts. But Boston must be given special consideration for other reasons. For one thing, depending on where in Boston you live, noise pollution can be a problem. Old windows may be worn out—or may not have ever been very thick to begin with—and besides letting heat out, they can let outside noises in. Replacement windows can cut down on noise pollution as well as lowering energy bills.
The choice of material for your replacement frames really comes down to three things: energy efficiency, degree of maintenance, and personal style. Wooden frames are probably the best aesthetic fit for the Boston area (and for Massachusetts in general), as they are the most traditional. Wooden frames are energy-efficient, too—in many cases, just as energy-efficient as synthetic materials such as fiberglass or vinyl. Their one failing (if you consider it a failing) is that their maintenance requirements are relatively great. They will need to be repainted every 3-5 years, since the Massachusetts weather will certainly take its toll on the finish. They should be finished with a protective coating, too, since with all of the sleet, snow, and rain they will be enduring, your wooden frames will be susceptible to rot.
Aluminum frames are probably not your best option. Although some aluminum frames are reinforced with extra insulation, giving them an energy efficiency closer to that of fiberglass, vinyl, or wood, many of them are quite inefficient, and can result in a lot of heat loss during the winter (and heat gain during the summer).
If you are looking for a material that’s cheaper than wood and relatively low-maintenance, vinyl and fiberglass window frames are probably your best choices. Both of them provide great energy efficiency and both are low-maintenance, able to weather even the worst Boston winter with virtually no damage. Vinyl is cheaper, partially because it is not as structurally strong as fiberglass is. Another possible drawback of vinyl is the possible damage that it can do the environment, both during its production and during its product life.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. For more information, fill out the form in the sidebar to be contacted by one of our window replacement experts, and to receive free quotes for the job before you.