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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 examine. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some customers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, including 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 buy new windows is the type of material used in a window frame and sash.

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

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and offer 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 want when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests focusing on air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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 made from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical composition 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 excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring a stronger selection 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old 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 look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more budget-friendly way to get the style 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 impact on your 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. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off 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 several reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance 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 retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other style 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 power bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

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

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Springfield. They’ll help you discover the windows that best suit 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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