A Beginner’s Guide to Clad Windows

Clad windows have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their unique combination of durability, aesthetics, and energy efficiency. These windows feature a wooden frame and sash with an exterior cover known as cladding, which can be made of aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass. If you’re considering clad windows for your home, this guide will provide you with the essential information you need to make an informed decision.

Types of Clad Windows

There are three main types of clad windows: aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass. Each type offers its own set of advantages and considerations.

1. Aluminum Clad Windows

Aluminum-clad windows are known for their durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions. These windows consist of a wood frame and sash with exterior portions wrapped in aluminum. The aluminum cladding provides low maintenance and protection against the elements, making them ideal for areas with extreme winters or heavy rainfall.

2. Vinyl Clad Windows

Vinyl-clad windows feature a wood frame and sash with a thin layer of vinyl wrapped around the exterior. These windows offer homeowners a maintenance-free exterior, eliminating the need for continuous refinishing and repainting that traditional all-wood windows require. Vinyl-clad windows are a popular choice for those seeking a low-maintenance option with a wide range of design possibilities.

3. Fiberglass Clad Windows

Fiberglass is known for its strength and energy efficiency. Fiberglass-clad windows have a wooden frame and interior, with a protective fiberglass layer coating the exterior. These windows offer excellent insulation properties and can withstand extreme weather conditions. They also provide homeowners the option to paint or stain the wood interior, giving them the flexibility to match their interior design preferences.

The Pros and Cons of Clad Windows

When considering clad windows for your home, it’s essential to weigh their advantages and disadvantages.


  • Low maintenance: Clad windows eliminate the continuous maintenance required for all-wood windows, providing a hassle-free solution.
  • Protection: The cladding materials, whether aluminum, vinyl, or fiberglass, offer protection against rain, snow, and moisture, ensuring the longevity of the wood frame.
  • Aesthetics: Fiberglass and aluminum-clad windows can give your home a modern and stylish look, enhancing its overall curb appeal.
  • Wood interior: Clad windows offer the beauty of a wood interior that can be stained or painted to match your desired aesthetic.


  • Limited visibility of damaged wood: With cladding covering the exterior, it becomes challenging to identify any underlying wood damage or rot.
  • Limited recladding options: If the cladding deteriorates, recladding might not be a feasible option. In such cases, replacing the damaged section or the entire window becomes necessary.

Clad Windows: A Worthwhile Investment

It’s worth noting that clad windows tend to be more expensive than vinyl windows but comparable in cost to all-wood windows, depending on the brand. The price variation also exists within different brands and window styles. While aluminum-clad windows generally come with a higher price tag, vinyl-clad and fiberglass-clad windows offer cost-effective alternatives without compromising on performance.

Leading Brands Offering Clad Windows

If you’re interested in purchasing clad windows, you’ll find a wide range of options from reputable brands. Here are some leading brands that offer high-quality clad windows:

  • Pella – Aluminum Clad Wood Windows
  • Andersen – Fiberglass, Fibrex, Vinyl, and Aluminum Cladding
  • JELD-WEN – Aluminum Clad and Hybrid Vinyl
  • Marvin – Aluminum or Fiberglass Clad
  • Milgard – Fiberglass and Aluminum Clad
  • PlyGem – Aluminum Clad Windows
  • Weather Shield – Aluminum Clad

Fiberglass Clad vs. Aluminum Clad Wood Windows

Choosing between fiberglass cladding and aluminum cladding can be challenging as both options offer durability, high energy efficiency, and wood protection. The decision often comes down to personal preferences regarding price and aesthetics. In general, aluminum clad windows tend to be slightly more expensive than fiberglass clad windows. However, the availability of more aluminum-clad window options might sway some homeowners towards this choice. Ultimately, both materials provide long-lasting and high-end solutions for clad windows.

Clad Windows vs. Vinyl: A Comparison of Maintenance

One sought-after feature of both clad and vinyl windows is their low maintenance requirements. Vinyl windows are particularly renowned for being maintenance-free, eliminating the need for sealing, repainting, or specific cleaning routines. While most clad windows offer low maintenance, it’s essential to note that some minor cleaning is necessary to preserve the condition of aluminum cladding. Failure to do so can result in rusting of the window frame. In terms of aesthetics, clad windows provide the advantage of a wood interior that can be painted or stained, offering greater flexibility for homeowners who enjoy changing the look of their homes. In contrast, vinyl windows have a vinyl interior that is difficult to paint.

When considering the lifespan, energy efficiency, and cost of clad and vinyl windows, both options provide excellent performance and durability. Depending on the make, brand, and climate, both clad and vinyl windows can last 20+ years. Clad windows, however, tend to be more expensive due to their added benefits of wood aesthetics and enhanced energy efficiency.

Understanding Vinyl vs. Vinyl Clad

To clarify the difference between standard vinyl windows and vinyl clad windows:

  • Standard Vinyl Windows: These windows consist of PVC (vinyl) throughout the entire frame, combining with pigment and additives to resist fading and withstand the elements. They have a vinyl interior and exterior.
  • Vinyl Clad Windows: Vinyl clad windows start with a wooden frame, which is then wrapped in a thin layer of vinyl for added protection and low maintenance. The interior is wood, allowing homeowners to stain or paint it according to their preferences. Vinyl clad windows tend to be more expensive than standard vinyl windows and may be harder to find in some markets.

Final Thoughts: Elevating Your Home with Clad Windows

Clad windows offer a perfect combination of natural wood beauty on the interior and a protective cladding on the exterior. These windows provide homeowners with a low-maintenance solution, especially when compared to traditional all-wood windows. It’s essential to note that the cladding makes it difficult to detect any underlying wood damage, and recladding options are often limited. However, with proper care and regular maintenance, clad windows can be a worthwhile investment, enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of your home for years to come.

Related Articles

Back to top button