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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 use, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some buyers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more significance on the window’s features, such as 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 add 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 would do well to 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 present flexible style choices 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 contain some of the toughest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that fits your home’s design. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood 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! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its lower price compared to other material types, some 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 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. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. It all makes for 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 include frames crafted 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 selection 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 in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are 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 more of a longer-term investment the appearance 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 homes, only wood will suffice. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially 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 advantages to real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on utility 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 protection from outside sound, 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 greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wooden 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. This helps ensure enhanced 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 improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Eau Claire. They’ll help you discover 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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