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What are clad windows? Types, pros, and cons

November 16th, 2021 | 12 min. read

What are clad windows? Types, pros, and cons

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So, you’re looking for new windows and keep seeing the term “clad” come up. You understand that this type of window has something to do with wood, but you aren’t exactly sure what clad windows actually are. 

Clad windows are a great alternative and variant to all-wood windows. They can give you the look of wood windows on the interior without all the upkeep for the exterior.

But what exactly is a clad window? We’re here to help.

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement contractor in San Antonio since 1989. We offer a variety of windows, from vinyl to fiberglass to aluminum-clad. 

We know that finding the right window for you can be tough. You have to learn about all the different materials, what their pros and cons are, and which one is right for you. Clad windows are just one of the many different types of windows, and many people may not have ever heard that word before. 

This article will explain what clad windows are, the different types of cladding, and the pros and cons of clad windows.

What are clad windows?  

A clad window simply refers to a window made of wood but has exterior cladding to protect the frame. The term cladding itself means the layering of one thing over another to create an exterior barrier. 

On windows, cladding is attached to the exterior of a wood frame to protect the wood from outside elements. 

A small corner of a clad window with triple panes and a black cladded exterior. You can see the inside of the frame exposed as if the window was cut in half.


Example of a clad window. Photo courtesy of Zola Windows

Types of clad windows

There are three major clad windows: fiberglass, vinyl, and aluminum. Cladding can also be rolled-on or extruded.

Fiberglass clad windows

Fiberglass clad windows are made with fiberglass exterior cladding. Fiberglass is an incredibly durable material for windows as it is made of fibers that are strung together and melded into a resin. This type of clad window is less common and fairly new to the market.

Benefits of fiberglass clad windows

Fiberglass is one of the most durable materials for window frames. They provide strength to the wood frame and are practically maintenance-free. 

Fiberglass also does not expand and contract through changing temperatures as some vinyl does. 

Cons of fiberglass clad windows

If a low-quality fiberglass cladding is used for a window, it is not as strong as it could be. If not finished properly, some fiberglass can fade in color under high UV rays.

Vinyl clad windows

Vinyl clad windows are made with vinyl exterior cladding. Vinyl is one of the most popular materials for windows and cladding. They have been engineered to be more durable and wear-resistant to changing temperature and weathering. 

Benefits of vinyl clad windows

New high-quality vinyl has become resistant to warping, bending, or bowing when exposed to changing temperatures. Vinyl is also one of the less expensive window material types, so for cladding, this could shave a little off the cost. 

Cons of vinyl clad windows 

Low-quality vinyl is known to change in shape when the temperature changes between hot and cold. It can also peel and crack from these temperature changes and peel and crack from other weather conditions, like rain, snow, and hail. 

Aluminum clad windows 

Aluminum clad windows are made with aluminum exterior cladding. This cladding material is one of the strongest when paired with the wood window and will last in your home for many years. 

Benefits of aluminum clad windows

Because aluminum is the strongest cladding, it is highly durable and long-lasting on your window’s exterior. Aluminum also requires very little maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with it to make it look good as new.

Cons of aluminum clad windows

Some aluminum cladding can be more conductive. This means that the frame can trap excess heat under the sun and thus, heat your home. However, some window manufacturers have engineered the metal to be non-conductive and resist heating. 

Rolled-on clad windows

Rolled-on clad windows mean the exterior metal is rolled onto the wood frame, closely bonded with it. This type of cladding is the less durable of the two and is more susceptible to denting and scratching. 

Extruded clad windows

Extruded clad windows means that the exterior cladding is a separate unit attached to the wood frame. This cladding is more durable than rolled-on cladding and provides extra support and strength to the window frame. 

When is a clad window the best option for me? 

If you love the look of a real-wood window for your interior, but don’t want to have to deal with all the added exterior maintenance that comes with wood windows, then a clad window may be the right option for you. 

A clad window will give you that real-wood interior with a sleek, virtually maintenance-free exterior. 

However, if it is important to you to have the traditional wood look on the exterior of your windows as well, then an all-wood window maybe your best option. There are some fiberglass and vinyl windows that can be made with a wood-like finish, but it depends if you want the real thing or not.

Whether you choose a fiberglass, vinyl, or aluminum clad window, it is important to have realistic expectations for your project. Clad windows are a great alternative to all-wood windows, but you still need high-quality cladding to fully receive the benefits. 

The highest quality material and installation will never be the least expensive. This is crucial to consider when looking for the right window solution and contractor for your project. 

In order to find a high-quality contractor to get a high-quality window replacement, you need to know what to look for and what kind of questions to ask. 

This article will outline six questions to ask a window replacement contractor, as well as what a great and not-so-great contractor might say. Then, you can determine whether or not a contractor will meet your needs for your project.

Southwest Exteriors is here to guide you to the right replacement window

Southwest Exteriors offers a variety of window types, like fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, and clad as well. When you schedule a consultation with us, our number one priority is to help educate you and guide you to the best decision for you. 

We will never pressure you into one product or another. If we are not the right fit for you, then we want to help you find what you’re looking for. 

If you want to learn more about replacement windows types, reviews, comparisons, and cost, check out more of our articles on our Learning Center and watch more on our YouTube Channel

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