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Clad vs. Wood Windows: Differences in durability, maintenance, and more

November 23rd, 2021 | 13 min. read

Clad vs. Wood Windows: Differences in durability, maintenance, and more

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A square image split down the middle diagonally with the top left being a light colored wood window frame and the bottom right being the exterior of a black clad window with stucco siding.

Wood windows are classic, traditional, and long-lasting. Clad windows have the same durability as wood windows without the added maintenance to the exterior.

The biggest difference between clad and wood windows is that a clad window gives you an all-wood interior with a different exterior frame, whereas wood windows give your home a historical look from the outside and the inside. 

Cladded windows are a great alternative to wood windows. Both are similar in quality, durability, and longevity, but how are they different? Which is a better option for you? 

When looking for replacement windows, you want to know your new windows will look and function how you want them to. 

Furthermore, when you’re comparing one window type to another, you want to learn about their biggest differences so you can decipher which window is a better fit for you. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement contractor in San Antonio for over 32 years. We offer a variety of windows, from vinyl to fiberglass to aluminum-clad. 

Because we’ve been around for a while, we’re familiar with all the different window types, how they compare to one another, and the benefits and drawbacks of each of them. Although we do not offer all-wood windows, we want you to be thoroughly educated on all your options for your project so you can find the best solution for you and your home. 

This article will compare clad and wood windows in cost, durability, maintenance, energy efficiency, and aesthetics. 

After reading, you will know the key differences between clad and wood windows so that you can decide which window is better for you.  

What are the differences between clad and wood windows? 

If all-wood and clad windows are both made of wood frames, you may be thinking, so what’s the difference? Both are very similar in durability and efficiency, but clad windows have added benefits that enhance wood windows. 

A clad window has the base of a wood window frame with cladding on the exterior. The definition of cladding is the layering of one thing over another for an added barrier of protection. 

Here we will outline the key differences between wood and clad windows in cost, durability, energy efficiency, maintenance, and visual aesthetics. 

The cost difference of clad and wood windows

The cost of your window replacement project is probably the first thing you think of when looking into any type of window. 

  • Clad windows can cost around $2,200 for a standard 3 ft. x 5 ft. window

  • Wood windows cost $2,200-2,500 for a standard 3 ft. x 5 ft. window

This cost includes professional labor and installation for a high-quality clad and wood window. However, you can find less expensive clad and wood windows for $500-700 at hardware stores if you are looking to replace your window yourself. 

The cost of clad and wood windows is fairly close, so considering the cost may not be a large factor when differentiating between the two. 

When considering the cost of your new windows, it is important to remember that cost and quality go hand in hand. Regardless of what window type you choose, keep in mind that the least expensive window will never be the highest quality one. So you must remember your goals for your windows when factoring in the cost.

How durable is a clad window compared to a wood window?

Wood windows are one of the most durable windows out there. They have been around for hundreds of years and have lasted just as long.

Clad windows have a wood window frame as a base. However, the cladding exterior adds an extra layer of durability to the window. They are a protective barrier against weather conditions and provide strength to the wood frame, making them more durable. 

As mentioned before, extruded cladding is more durable than rolled-on metal. Rolled-on cladding will still add that protective barrier to the frame, but the extruded cladding will provide that extra strength and durability. 

Overall, both wood and clad windows are similar in their durability and longevity. However, clad windows will be a better option for durability if you live in an area with lots of moisture and harsh weather.

How do clad windows compare to wood windows in energy efficiency?

Exterior cladding only adds to the insulating properties of the frame. Cladding also helps to reduce the conductivity of the frame, meaning it will not trap heat as much as wood windows do. 

Wood windows are great insulators for your home, allowing you to keep it cool during the summers and warm during the winter. 

While both windows are insulating because they are made of a wood base, clad windows will be more energy efficient to insulate your home because of the added cladding.

How much maintenance is required for a clad window compared to a wood window?

Wood windows are known to require heavy maintenance on the exterior to keep them functioning properly and looking good. Wood windows must be properly sealed on the exterior in order to keep water from infiltrating the frame. 

If the exterior is not regularly maintained, you risk rotting and insect infestation. 

Clad windows are nearly maintenance-free. They provide you with the look of a real-wood interior without having to worry about water infiltration, rotting, or the threat of insects. 

What does a clad window look like compared to a wood window? 

The biggest difference in visual aesthetics between a clad and wood window is the exterior. The exterior of a clad window is going to be made of either vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass, giving the window a sleek and smooth look. 

A clad window will still give you the real-wood interior look, while a wood window will have the traditional wood on the interior and exterior. 

This means that if you know you want a wood exterior frame, then a clad window is not the right option for you. 

But, if you want a wood window interior with a low-maintenance exterior, then a clad window might be for you. 

Clad windows provide added durability and energy efficiency to your home and require very little maintenance over the years. 

Clad vs. Wood Windows: Which is right for me? 

Now you know the biggest differences between clad and wood windows, and you can decipher which window type is best for you. 

  • If you love the look of real wood for the interior of your home, but don’t want to have to deal with the maintenance of a wood exterior, then clad may be for you.

  • If you want the historical, classic look of all-wood windows and don’t want to compromise your personal style, then wood windows may be a better option.

When thinking about what window type is right for you, consider how much you are looking to pay for your new windows, what you want them to look like, how much care they will need, and how long you want them to last. 

Once you find the right window for you, you’re probably wondering where to go from here. When you’re ready to get started on your window replacement project, you’re going to have to find the right contractor that will meet your needs and give you a high-quality window replacement. 

Southwest Exteriors works to serve you and every homeowner with love and excellence through our high-quality windows and installation. 

We know that we are not the right solution for everyone. However, we just want you to make the best decision for you and your project and want to help guide you to the right contractor. 

This article and video will outline six questions to ask a window replacement contractor during a consultation. This way, you can decipher a high-quality contractor from a low-quality one and can feel confident in your project.