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

Some customers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus 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 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 most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are important 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 higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest guards 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s style. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks 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

    Because of its lower 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 thoroughly. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During the test, 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 dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack 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 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 present a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant increases in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. 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 conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that give the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs 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 resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look 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 increased level of 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. Regardless of 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 space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

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

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on power bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must 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 necessary to check that wooden replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Whichever 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 Santa Fe. 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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