The 3 main categories
Front wiper blades fall into three main categories – metal framed, rubber-sheathed winter, and beam (or frameless) styles. They all have pluses and minuses when it comes to keeping us safe.
Metal-framed or skeleton-type wipers have the longest history in auto wiper blades and basically excel in only one area – economy. To be fair, if you replace them as often as appropriate, about 12 to 18 months, and treat them with care during de-icing, they can do a passable job for most vehicles in most weather.
Rubber-sheath blades are simply traditional metal framed units with a thin rubber sleeve attached to their skeletons. About the only benefit this adds is the ease of removing built-up ice or snow when clearing your vehicle before the hitting the road. Moisture can still get to the skeleton’s joints, leaving them as unbending as plain metal-framed blades.
Beam blades seem to answer many of the problems of the first two with a one-piece, flexible poly-material frame. They can adapt to aggressive windshield curves and aren’t subject to pivot or joint freeze-ups. They come at a cost, often priced at twice that of metal-framed units, depending on length. While their one-piece frames can outlast skeleton style blades, their rubber inserts have about the same lifespan, about 12 to 18 months.