Problems with Cladded Wood Windows | Brennan Enterprises

Problems with Cladded Wood Windows

Have you been shopping around for wooden windows for your house? Then you may have already come across the term cladded wood windows. Cladded wood windows are at their core, wood windows. The exterior, however, is covered with another material to protect the interior wood from damage.

The cladded design was made to reduce the maintenance needs of a traditional all-wood window. Like most other products, cladded windows have downsides. Read on to learn more about the types of window cladding materials and problems with cladded wood windows.

What does clad wood windows mean?

Cladding refers to a material used to cover or coat another structure or material. When we talk about clad wood windows, we mean wood windows with a protective covering. There are a few options when it comes to window cladding, more on that next.

What types of cladding are available on windows?

There are three common types of window cladding. As you shop for wood windows you will likely come across options with vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum cladding.

You may have noticed that vinyl, fiberglass, and aluminum are also materials that are commonly used in window frames. Each material has its own set of considerations.

1. Vinyl Cladding

Vinyl is a very popular and durable material and it can be used in just about any climate.

  • Vinyl cladding is a cheaper option compared to other cladding material
  • Cheap vinyl can be more easily damaged during extreme temperature changes

2. Fiberglass cladding

Fiberglass cladded windows are among the strongest of cladded windows. They expand and contract essentially at the same rate as the glass in the window sash because it is made, partially, from glass.

  • Fiberglass is not as customizable or flexible as aluminum

Product Recommendation: Andersen A Series Fiberglass Cladded Wood Windows

3. Aluminum cladding

An aluminum cladding on your window is one of the best as long as it is extruded aluminum and not rolled aluminum.

  • Extruded aluminum cladding is thick and highly customizable
  • It's resistant to dents and harsh weather environments

Product Recommendation: Andersen E Series Fiberglass Cladded Wood Windows

Both aluminum cladding and fiberglass cladding will cost more than vinyl cladding.

Companies may also use some cladding materials in combination. For example, the cladding on the exterior window frame may be made from fiberglass while the cladding on the sash may be made from vinyl.

Problems with cladded wood windows

Clad windows don't have many problems but they do have one big one. It is not uncommon to come across cladded windows with wood damage. But the cladding is supposed to protect the wood, so how does that happen?

Unfortunately, water can still penetrate the cladding sometimes. The weaker the corner welds or attachment mechanism, the more likely it is for water to sneak its way between the cladding and wood. The worst part of this is that the damage often goes unnoticed until it's too late. Here are a few things you can do.

1. When shopping for cladded windows look for durable options.

2. This is why it is so important to check your windows every year. A quick YouTube search will show you many situations where a home inspector finds that the wood behind vinyl or rolled aluminum cladding is basically gone.

  • Check the seals around the glass of your window and re-seal if necessary.
  • Check for gaps in the corner welds, contact your window manufacturer to see if this is covered under warranty.
  • Check for breaks or cracks in the exterior cladding, contact your window manufacturer to see if this is covered under warranty.

Different cladding materials require a different approach to fixing the cladding. Here are a couple of solutions from Andersen for repairing holes or cracks in vinyl and fiberglass↗:

1. Vinyl cladding repair

Put on a glove, clean the hole on vinyl cladded, fill in the hole with vinyl adhesive and cover the hole. Allow the vinyl to dry for a day and scrap off excess dry vinyl with a razor.

2. Fiberglass cladding repair

Repair minor holes using Bondo Filler. After applying the filler clean the hole using a soft dry cloth with denatured alcohol and follow up with a touch-up spray paint. 

Conclusion

Despite the problems you might encounter with cladding, they are still a good option. Cladding does in fact reduce the amount of maintenance and allow you to enjoy the look of real wood windows on the inside of your home.

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