Windows are most commonly available in vinyl (or variation), wood and aluminum.
Vinyl windows have become increasingly popular in coastal areas over the last 20 years. Vinyl windows are resistant to corrosion, energy efficient, require little maintenance, significantly reduce condensation and noise, often have very good warranties and are relatively inexpensive.
The beauty and color versatility of wood windows sometimes makes us forget how much work is required to maintain them. Painting or staining is required every few years or more often if closer to the ocean. Some wood window manufacturers apply a vinyl or aluminum cladding (covering) to the outside window framing to protect it from the outdoor elements. This allows the consumer the beauty of a wood window on the inside while reducing the otherwise high maintenance of a standard wood window. Unfortunately, these products can be quite expensive as compared to vinyl or aluminum windows.
Aluminum windows have a narrower frame, which is sometimes desirable from an aesthetics standpoint. They tend to have more color versatility than do vinyl windows, although aluminum paint may peel and chip as a result of the outdoor salt-air elements. Because aluminum is a “colder” material, it does have a reputation for forming condensation. Many customers complain of mold; this is particularly common with the old “single-paned” aluminum windows. Aluminum windows have become less popular on the coast as they do corrode over time and many times have limited warranties. With the development of vinyl technology, aluminum windows are generally not recommended for beachfront properties.