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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 it comes to finding the right replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.

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

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to buy 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. As they are made from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s design. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you want 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! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame manufacturing. 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 crafted 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 choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant improvements in energy efficiency compared 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

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the look 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 create colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like 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 more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous 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 classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who require a 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 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. It helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Albany. They’ll help you find the windows that best match 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. 
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