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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 choosing 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 customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more importance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to purchase new windows is the type 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 it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. As they are built from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can find a window that matches your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive 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 operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. It all helps create 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame production. 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 feature] frames made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer significant improvements in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more budget-friendly way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are many reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

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

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home more efficiently than almost any other kind 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 feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

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

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Greenfield. 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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