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

Some customers decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more importance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about when planning to add 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best 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 add more energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to 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

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, some 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 rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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 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 consist of] frames created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line 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 provide significant increases in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some 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 conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to add colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more affordable way to get the style 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 impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several 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 sort of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can enhance 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 retain warmth in a home more efficiently than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on power bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

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

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain 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 enhanced protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Woburn. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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