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April 1, 2017
"Best" is a relative term. The best material for the needs of one customer may not be the right fit for another.
If you are looking for the most cost effective up front option then a Vinyl Frame (aka PVC aka uPVC) does the trick in most cases. However vinyl does have more flex (expansion and contraction) and more limitations than other frame materials like wood or fiberglass.
If you are looking for an affordable option but with a darker colour on the exterior, then a Metal Clad Exterior and Vinyl Interior Window may be a great option for you.
Painted Vinyl Windows are another option where you can get a darker exterior colour. However they may not provide as durable of an exterior as a metal clad exterior frame.
If you prefer the traditional and warm look of Wood Windows but don't want to have to regularly paint the exterior of your window frames, then Metal Clad Wood Windows may be a great fit for you. All wood windows require significant maintenance in the Calgary climate to handle the harsh winters and multiple freeze/thaw cycles we experience here.
A more modern and still relatively new alternative frame material is Fiberglass. Fiberglass is a commonly used material in other manufacturing, including door slabs, but it is still somewhat of a niche in the window frame market.
Fiberglass Window Frames are made from an abundant resource - Silica Sand - the same raw material used to make glass. Therefore the expansion and contraction rates are similar to glass and helps to prevent issues with flexing of the frame.
Fiberglass is also a very strong material so it can be used in larger configurations with less potential issues than vinyl windows, but still provide a maintenance free frame options.
If you prefer there warmer wood look inside, there is a wood vaneer option to get you that look without sacrificing performance or longevity of the window frames and limiting the maintenance.