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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 ideal replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more significance 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 examined when planning to purchase new windows is the sort of material used in a window frame and sash.

Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most frequently used materials 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 some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections 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 best protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can find a window that matches your home’s design. Instead of 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

    Thanks to 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

    Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 built from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical makeup 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 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 present a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer 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

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. 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 provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that reflect the character 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 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 cost-effective 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 style of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 are not the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other kind of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including 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 at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

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

  • Need for Treatment

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

No matter which material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Decatur. They’ll help you find 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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