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Vinyl, Fiberglass or Wood? Which Window Material is Best for your Home?

Vinyl, Fiberglass or Wood? Which Window Material is Best for your Home?

When deciding on the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more importance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about when planning to buy new windows is the sort of material used in a window frame and sash.

Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s style. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests focusing on air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. It all results in a window that is robust and sturdy, with fade resistance and stylish exterior colors.

  • Environmental Impact

    There’s no way around it. Vinyl windows are not made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame construction. But vinyl window creation has come a long way in recent years. Windows such as Pella’s 350 Series, 250 Series and Encompass by Pella include] frames created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide significant positive changes in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that give the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more affordable way to get the appearance of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on utility bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor sounds than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to be certain that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Asheville. They’ll help you discover the windows that best fit your needs, style and budget.

 
*Some Pella products may not meet ENERGY STAR® guidelines in Canada. For more information, contact your local Pella sales representative or go to energystar.gc.ca
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