Increased strength, unique profiles and wood species, and an expanding selection of hardware and finishes are the reasons why aluminum- and vinyl-clad windows continue to be popular with pros and homeowners.

From hurricanes in Florida to blizzards in Boston to tornadoes in Texas, bad weather is at the forefront of national news. For window manufacturers, this means an increasing interest in products that can withstand whatever Mother Nature throws at them and still look great.

Offering units that meet more stringent impact-resistance codes is practically a prerequisite for clad-window manufacturers these days.

“The Florida hurricanes have really brought attention to and accelerated code adoption,” comments Greg Galloway, MW business manager for wood, vinyl-clad, and composite products.

Proponents of aluminum-clad windows assert that aluminum is the best cladding for harsh environments because it can't be dinged or dented, is low-maintenance, and is good-looking.

Tom O'Reilly, a managing partner of Living Color Property Development in Del Ray Beach, Fla., mainly installs aluminum-clad windows. “They're very durable and the cost evens out over time,” the builder says.

Meanwhile, vinyl-clad fans claim that vinyl exteriors are superior because they resist humidity in warm, sticky climates.

Paul Gidus of PSG Construction, an Orlando, Fla.-based remodeling firm, recommends vinyl-clad and all-vinyl windows to his clients for that reason. What's more, vinyl-clad units are more affordable than aluminum clad in his area, he comments.

Vinyl-clad window prices start at about $250 per window, although adding impact-resistant and laminated glass drives costs way up.

Although composite materials are prevalent in decking, molding, and window frames and sills, manufacturers predict it will be some time before composite-clad windows are a mainstay.

“We're in the early stages of composites and fiberglass,” says Steve Brant, window product manager for Jeld-Wen. “They offer great structural benefits, but they're pricey now.”

Another reason why clad windows are gaining ground is because manufacturers aren't content with run-of-the-mill styles.

Peachtree, for instance, recently introduced a simulated transom window in its vinyl-clad builder-oriented 300 series. It's available with rectangle- and Gothic-shaped tops and in other profiles, allowing pros to create unique patterns without much fuss, contends the firm. But the real kicker is that the window costs about 22 percent less than a two-piece stacked unit, says Jeff Kibler, Peachtree's brand manager.

Meanwhile, Weather Shield recently introduced aluminum-clad casements that the firm dubs “old-fashioned” and “architecturally correct” to appeal to exacting pros and homeowners, explain Dave Koester and Pete Lenar, brand managers.

Finally, Andersen and Marvin join Pella's Vivid View screen products with venting windows that feature fine mesh screens that don't obstruct the view. The nearly invisible Tru-Screen insect screen is available on Andersen's clad 400 series windows; Marvin makes an aluminum-clad venting picture window. “The window appears to be closed from the street, even when in the venting position,” says Anthony S. Head, regulatory product planner for Marvin.

Finally, interior wood selections, cladding colors, and distinct hardware finishes add up to the icing on the clad-window cake.

Many window makers offer a blossoming selection of interior woods besides oak including pine, mahogany, Douglas fir, cherry, alder, and exotic species.

For O'Reilly, the interior wood selection is paramount. “I use lots of alder and cherry,” O'Reilly notes. “You can't tell the difference between them because they have a similar grain and the same red hue, but alder is less expensive.”

Meanwhile, numerous exterior clad colors are available. Weather Shield and Marvin each offer dozens of tones, for example. And Jeld-Wen has six standard hues so pros can mix and match window types, Brant explains.

Additionally, a handful of firms, including Kolbe Windows & Doors, Weather Shield, and Jeld-Wen, offer anodized aluminum cladding finishes for homes that require a more rustic look or that need protection from harsh climates.

Last but not least, window hardware finishes are evolving and expanding. Traditional plated and bright brass finishes remain popular, but hand-forged finishes such as oil-rubbed bronze are on the rise.

“Homeowners want hardware patinas and styles to match throughout the house,” Kibler elaborates.

Windsor Windows & Doors. Available with aluminum cladding or primed wood exteriors, Pinnacle series windows come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Optional grilles and other decorative elements are available for all. The firm also offers a new Pinnacle patio door line that encompasses a number of profiles. 800-218-6186.

MW. Freedom 800 and 600 series clad wood windows come in numerous profiles with energy-saving glazing options. The Freedom 800 line has a PVC cladding in a choice of three colors and wood interiors that are ready to paint or stain. The Freedom 600 line, geared toward builders, features a white vinyl exterior cladding and pre-finished white interior. 800-999-8400.

Jeld-Wen. New coastal- and hurricane-resistant windows include aluminum-clad wood double-hung and horizontal roller profiles; both feature impact-resistant glass. The windows feature Kynar 500, a resin system that keeps exterior finishes from chalking or fading, says the maker. The products are specifically engineered and tested to meet the stringent codes in hurricane-prone regions. 800-535-3936.

Crestline. CrestWood vinyl-clad double-hung windows now are available with simulated transoms; the feature is easier to install and less expensive than stacking a transom above a window, the maker says. The windows come with white or almond exteriors, and pine or white PVC interiors. 800-552-4111.

Eagle Window & Door. Aluminum-clad and prime wood casement and awning windows feature many new upgrades. Stainless steel hardware (on casements), concealed fasteners, and folding crank handles now are standard features. The windows are geared for high-end new construction and remodeling applications. Many clad and wood doors styles also are available. 800-324-5354.

Hurd. FeelSafe windows and patio doors meet coastal building codes as well as Energy Star requirements. The insulated glass windows feature extruded aluminum cladding in seven standard and 20 custom colors; custom shapes and sizes are available with various interior wood species. FeelSafe products also come in single-pane laminated glass configurations to meet Miami-Dade County, Fla., building codes. 800-223-4873.

Semco. Available with aluminum-clad exteriors, eyebrow profile double-hung tilt windows feature foam-filled weather stripping at the bottom lower sash and dual-leaf weather stripping at the check rails, parting stop, and head jamb. Dual-sealed 11/16-inch insulated glass comes standard; tinted glazings and argon-gas-filled glass are optional. The exterior cladding comes in an assortment of colors. 800-333-2206

Marvin. Made to match the clad Casemaster window line, the venting picture window features a sash that projects 2¼ inches out to reveal a screened-in opening that vents stagnant air and reduces condensation but keeps insects out, the maker says. Whether open or closed, the window appears to be closed from an exterior viewpoint at all times. 888-537-8266.

Kolbe Windows & Doors. Anodized finishes now are available on many window and door styles. The manufacturer says the etched finishes provide enhanced exterior rigidity; resistance to peeling, chalking, corrosion, and staining; and unique decorative appeal with die marks that show through. Finishes come in black, light bronze, medium bronze, dark bronze, champagne, and clear shades. 715-842-5666.

Vetter Windows and Doors. Insulated Impact windows and doors, which feature a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between two panes of annealed laminated glass, meet numerous ASTM codes. Available with aluminum-clad exteriors, Impact profiles include single- and double-hung, casement, and other profiles. Standard pine interiors can be upgraded to a hardwood species. 800-838-8372.

Weather Shield. Aluminum-clad wood LifeGuard IG insulated glass impact-resistant windows and doors meet Long Island, N.Y., impact-resistance and energy-efficiency codes. Operating and fixed casement, tilt, and direct-set window profiles are with oak, maple, pine, cherry, mahogany, or American fir interiors. The cladding comes in seven standard, 48 designer, or seven anodized finish colors. 800-477-6808.

Andersen. 400 series Woodwright double-hung clad windows feature Fibrex composite sashes and PVC cladding for maximum durability and low maintenance, asserts the maker. The windows come in a choice of white, sandtone, terratone, or forest green exteriors and pine, oak, or maple interiors. Low-E glass is standard. 800-426-4261.

Peachtree Doors & Windows. Aluminum-clad 500 series windows and patio doors feature pine interiors that come ready to paint or stain, and a selection of eight exterior colors. Double-hung, casement, awning, and fixed window profiles are available. Energy-efficient insulated glass, grilles, complementary transoms, and simulated divided lights are optional. 888-888-3814.

Loewen. StormForce windows and doors come in three graduations. DP series units meet and exceed IRC coastal living codes; IP series products have insulated glass for energy efficiency and impact resistance and meet codes from New York to Texas; MP series units meet the most stringent Miami-Dade County, Fla., protocols. Most of the windows come with wood or aluminum-clad construction. 800-563-9367.

Pella. Pictured on a ProLine wood window, the Vivid View screen allows for unobstructed views from inside and outside the home and offers three times the airflow of a traditional screen, claims the maker. Made from a patent-pending transparent screen fabric, the screens also are optional on Designer and Architect series products. 888-847-3552.

Trend Setters

Laminated and impact glass, necessary components of windows and doors for coastal dwellings, are moving inland to urban areas because they reduce sound transmission and beef up security.

Also on the horizon is hidden or unobtrusive hardware. Despite all the beautiful finishes, some pros and homeowners think that less is more.

Weather Shield's newest casement styles, for instance, feature low-profile handles. Weather Shield's Dave Koester and Pete Lenar comment that the “nested” handle system is part of a bigger trend toward more streamlined appearances.