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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 factors to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more emphasis on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass may 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 materials used most often 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 some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

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

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest defenses 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s design. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you prefer 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 all that much upkeep 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

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests focusing on air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 consist of 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

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

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of 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 as part of the construction process 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 mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are 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 much longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will fit. Regardless of 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. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose 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, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the style 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 far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

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

  • Need for Treatment

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

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Wilmington. 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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