Fiberglass expands and contracts at similar rate as glass (1/3rd the rate of aluminum & 1/7th rate of vinyl)
- Less torsion and stress between glass and frame in cold weather
- Reduced air leakage
- Decreased stress on locking mechanisms
- Fiberglass is an insulating material
- Does not require a “thermal break” as do aluminum windows
- Even with thermal break aluminum windows not as in same category as fiberglass
- Does Not require steel/aluminum STIFFENERS as many vinyl windows do
- Canadian Government Consumer's Guide: “The best energy performance in window frames has been achieved using a fiberglass frame with foam insulation in the frame cavities”
- Fiberglass is a structural material that will maintain its strength in every climate
- Strength allows slim sightlines – especially in the casement and awning
- Larger glass areas
- Unlike wood will not rot or warp
- With today's higher indoor humidities wood windows often rot or at least discolor from the inside
- Unlike vinyl will not shrink, sag or crack
- Over time even when not painted a dark color vinyl can shrink, sag and embrittle
Detailed Introduction to Fiberglass
Although available for nearly 20 years, fiberglass windows remain unfamiliar to most of the building community. In a way this isn't surprising – the construction industry is notoriously slow to embrace change.
As with most adoption curves what starts slowly often finishes quickly. Indeed when it comes to fiberglass windows what started with a handful of inovative companies, now includes nearly all of the largest North American window makers. Admittedly their adoption typically takes the form of selected critical components rather than whole window systems. However, it still signals the increasing rate of acceptance.
The sections that follow serve as an introduction to this exceptional window framing material. They also make the case for triple glazing, as well as explaining some of Thermotech's special capabilities.
1.1 WHY FIBERGLASS?
1.1.0 The Basics
Thermotech's fiberglass windows feature pultruded fiberglass lineals and offer an exciting alternative to metal, plastic, or wood frame windows. Thermotech's fiberglass windows are principally made from pultruded fiberglass lineals. This unique combination of fiberglass lineals is what makes fiberglass superior to other windows.
These unique properties of fiberglass include:
Coefficient of thermal expansion similar to glass
Low thermal conductivity
Lower environmental impact
The word pultruded refers to the fact that continuous strands of glass are saturated in a thermoset resin, and passed through a heated die. They are pulled through the die, rather than pushed or extruded, through the die - hence the term `pultrusion.'
The fourth generation window-frame material, `pultruded' fiberglass differs from common fiberglass used in pools, boats, and storage tanks. These familiar products have lower glass contents and thus lower strengths than pultrusions. Another difference is that fiberglass pultrusions do not have a high maintenance gel coat exterior. Their resistance to UV degradation comes from a durable acrylic/urethane architectural finish.
Omniglass Ltd, based in Winnipeg , Manitoba , pultruded their first commercial window lineals in 1983. Over the past 20 years, Omniglass has perfected the pultrusion of fiberglass lineals. Thermotech fabricates these dimensionally stable lineals into windows. By filling the fiberglass frames with foam insulation and glazing them with high efficiency insulating glass, Thermotech makes what we consider the ultimate high performance window.
Thermotech's Fiberglass Windows meet the needs of designers, builders, and owners who wish to go beyond the limitations inherent in metal, plastic or wood window systems. Pultruded fiberglass has proven to be a superior material in five ways: dimensional stability, thermal insulation, durability, aesthetics, and `environmental friendliness'. The results of extensive field experience and materials testing are summarized below.
1.1.1 TEMPERATURE EXTREMES AND DIMENSIONAL STABILITY
While traditional window framing materials are dimensionally stable on the shop floor, how they perform in extremes of humidity, heat and cold is quite a different story. It has long been known that wood is prone to warping and shrinking. But even seemingly uniform extruded materials such as aluminium and vinyl can have problems, especially in dark colours, owing to their relatively high rates of thermal expansion. The table below compares the dimensional stability of four generations of window framing materials.
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
( x 10^-6 per degree Celcius )
(Wood expands with changes in humidity)
Ideally, a window frame will expand and contract at the same rate as glass, an ideal easily achieved with glass fiber technology. On the other hand, aluminium has a coefficient of expansion which is almost three times that of glass — and the corresponding figure for vinyl is more than seven times that of glass...
Windows are tested for air tightness at room temperature on both sides of the window. Extensive cold chamber testing by Natural Resources Canada has shown how window framing materials perform in real world conditions. The results show that some vinyl windows, although well weatherstripped, exhibited substantial air leakage. This air leakage occurred because the cold outside face of the sash contracted, causing the sash to bow outward at the top and bottom corners - causing the weatherstripped joint between sash and frame to open, and air to enter.
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