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Wooden windows: the comeback of sustainability with style

In order to build and design their own four walls as sustainably as possible, many builders opt for wooden windows and balcony and patio doors made of wood. But is it worth the much higher price compared to pure plastic windows? What wood are the window frames and balcony doors made of? And don't you have to keep repainting them? Here come the advantages and disadvantages of wooden windows.

Wooden windows: the comeback of sustainability with style
Wooden windows: the comeback of sustainability with style

They were never really gone, the wooden windows. They just got more competition from other modern windows. First from the aluminum windows and then from the plastic windows. But with the emerging trend back towards sustainability and the recycling of building materials that have already been used, the wooden windows as well as the wooden balcony and terrace doors are also experiencing a revival. Their fans rave about the cozy, homely atmosphere that the wooden windows create in the house. And about the fact that the classics last forever - if you don't deliberately destroy them. The good thing about wooden windows: If you want to build a new house or renovate an old one, you have a huge selection available, so that there is something for every style and taste.

Advantages of wooden windows

An important aspect for many builders is the green conscience: wooden windows and balcony doors made of wood are sustainable products, because wood is an important, renewable raw material. But this is not the only reason why the product is convincing with sustainability: In contrast to plastic or aluminum windows, wooden windows can be refurbished should they have been damaged. So you do not have to replace the entire window including the frame - it is sufficient to have the damage repaired by a specialist or to repair it yourself as an experienced do-it-yourselfer.

Even in the event of a fire, wooden windows do better than the plastic version. Contrary to popular belief, wooden frames remain stable longer and, if they have been treated properly with environmentally friendly and water-soluble paints, do not emit any toxic fumes. The latter applies both in the event of a fire and in everyday life - which can be an important reason for wooden windows, especially for allergy sufferers.

Wooden windows will help you insulate your home. The products made of softwood have optimal insulation protection, because both the cold and the warm air can move in the wooden frame - this prevents it from escaping into your apartment.
The energy efficiency of a wooden window is displayed using the Uw value. This is calculated on the basis of the wood (Uf value) and the glass (Ug value) of the wooden window. The smaller the wooden window, the worse the Uw value. Patio doors or large panorama windows have better Uw values.

Speaking of insulation values ​​- they are the reason for another advantage of wooden frames that should not be ignored: wooden windows can be subsidized by the KfW Bank and thus relieve your building or renovation budget. To do this, however, you absolutely have to have the so-called thermally separated edge seal installed.

Due to the hardness of the wood, window frames made of hardwood provide a kind of natural protection against burglary - of course only if you choose the right fittings and the right glass. Your wooden windows or balcony doors with wooden frames will be even more burglar-proof if you also use glass-dividing bars. This not only gives the windows and doors an additional plus in terms of style, but also in terms of customization, because you can color the bars, for example. Attention: The Viennese bars are not glass dividing bars and are only used for decoration.

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Disadvantages of wooden windows

Compared to pure plastic or aluminum windows, wooden windows are expensive to purchase. And: wooden windows are labor and maintenance-intensive - if you want to enjoy them for a long time.

In addition, buying wooden windows made from tropical woods such as meranti or eucalyptus can do more harm to the environment than protect it. You should inquire with the manufacturer of the wooden windows where the wood comes from and do not buy the product if the wood for your wooden windows does not come from sustainable and fair cultivation - i.e. it is FSC-certified.

If you have time pressure during construction or renovation, you could have problems meeting the deadlines with wooden windows. The individual work steps plus the drying times for the protective lacquers and glazes can take days. A delivery time for customized wooden windows of more than two weeks is normal. You should therefore speak to the window manufacturer as early as possible.

Overview of the advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of wooden windowsDisadvantages of wooden windows
  • renewable raw material
  • pleasant living environment
  • good thermal insulation
    Softwood windows
  • High level of security against break-ins
    Hardwood windows
  • durable (high quality)
  • sustainable and environmentally friendly
    (Except for tropical woods)
  • very expensive in the
  • need to be regular
    to be cared for

The best types of wood for wooden windows

Basically, a distinction is made between window frames made of hardwood and softwood. Tropical woods and oak, for example, are classed as hardwoods, while many domestic wood species such as spruce and pine are classed as softwoods.

Douglas fir wooden windows

The Douglas fir (colloquially Douglas fir) originally comes from North America. Their wood is reddish-brown in color and has jagged fiber optics. It can be impregnated better than, for example, spruce wood and is therefore often used as construction timber for roof trusses, among other things.

Larch wooden windows

The wood of the larch is also reddish, but it darkens over time. Larch wood is hard and heavy. Therefore, wooden windows made of larch wood are difficult to crack and provide natural protection against burglary - in combination with the right fittings and the right glazing.

Pine wooden windows

The third red wood among the timbers is the pine. The tree is the second most common type of forest tree in Central Europe and its softwood can harden heavily, which can make stains, paints and glazes more difficult. Pine wood has good thermal insulation.

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Wooden windows made of oak

The beech family has many sub-genera whose woods react differently to moisture. The wood of the red oak is not waterproof due to innumerable pores, the wood of the white oak is used in shipbuilding. An oak tree in Germany provides a home for up to 500 species of insects. If there is an alternative, therefore, one should not choose wooden windows made of oak. In addition, oak windows are often the most expensive wooden windows.

Spruce wooden windows

The wood of the spruce is one of the most intensively used woods in the northern hemisphere. It is very suitable as a veneer and has good thermal insulation because it is a soft wood.

Meranti wooden windows

Meranti is a tropical hardwood that is mainly cleared in Malaysia, Indonesia or Brunei. With the density of the wood, its color changes. The Dark-Red-Meranti, whose stocks are rapidly decreasing, needs almost no maintenance and is therefore actually perfectly suited for window construction. However, several environmental organizations criticize the use of Meranti wood and warn that it should only be bought from FSC-certified cultivation.

Eucalyptus wooden windows

The color of the eucalyptus wood can vary from light to pink-brown to dark red. The density of the product from India, Africa, China or Brazil is also highly variable, so not every strain is suitable for every use. Those with a high density can be processed in window construction. But here too, attention should be paid to the FSC certification. Or the wooden window should be bought from a manufacturer who supports sustainable eucalyptus cultivation in the European Union, for example in Spain.

Wood-aluminum windows: material mix with many positive properties

If you combine wood and aluminum into one product, you have the advantages of both materials. The wood ensures a pleasant living atmosphere and good thermal insulation, while the aluminum is stable, light and does not need to be cared for. Wood-aluminum windows are actually windows made of wood with an aluminum facing on the outside. Inside the house, you can still enjoy beautiful wooden window frames, while the robust aluminum outside defies wind and weather.

Wooden window prices

The price for wooden windows and balcony and patio doors made of wood is usually above the cost of a pure plastic or aluminum window. Windows with a combination of materials, such as plastic-aluminum or wood-aluminum, are, however, more expensive in terms of base price. The cheapest wooden windows are those made of pine. Some manufacturers also take the pine windows out of their in-house ten-year guarantee. The price for high quality oak windows is the highest. In between there are spruce, meranti, larch and eucalyptus. You have to pay surcharges for the type of profile and, if necessary, for the type of opening, an additional top or bottom light as well as the window type itself (one sash or two; round or triangular). Plus the cost of the bars, should you want bar windows. A single-leaf wooden window with basic equipment and without roller shutters costs from around 300 euros - on the Internet with self-installation. The larger the wooden window and the less you want to do yourself, the higher the price will climb.

Tips for installing wooden windows

The general rule when installing windows is: Two people work better. Before you start installing the new wooden window, you should make sure that everything is in order with the masonry around the window and with the soffit. If necessary, you have to repair holes in advance. The distance between the wooden frame and the wall should be between three and five centimeters - the dimensions of the wooden window frame should be selected accordingly. Also note how the wooden window will open, i.e. whether the handle is on the left or right and whether the window sash swings open to the left or right. When screwing the wooden frame on, it is helpful to tighten the screws clockwise bit by bit and then use the spirit level to straighten the frame again.

How do you properly care for wooden windows?

Modern wooden windows inherently have a surface finish (usually consisting of seven steps), which extends the durability of the window frames and makes them easier to maintain. The so-called blue stain protection is included in the seven refinement steps - a dip primer that prevents the wood from turning blue due to moisture penetration. Nevertheless, you should treat the wooden frames with a special care product regularly, for example every time you clean the windows. So you can delay the glazing of the wooden windows a little. Every ten to 15 years, the windows should be repainted, at least on the weather side.

If you still have built-in old wooden windows, it can happen that increasingly heat escapes. Then it is important to seal the windows in order to save energy and thus costs. In old and listed buildings, it is common that over time you will have to remove and replace the window putty.

When does it make sense to replace windows?

If it is an old building, you should consider whether it makes sense to swap out the old windows and replace them with new ones. Because not all wooden windows are the same. There are big differences in the quality of the thermal insulation depending on the year of construction. A year of construction before 1995 usually indicates that your windows do not have thermal insulation glazing. In this case, you should think about renewing the windows.

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