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

Some buyers decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more importance 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 examined when planning to purchase new windows is the kind 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 would do well to 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people 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 face laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried 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 conditions make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 made from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical composition 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring 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 improvements 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 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 creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a portion 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 establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the character 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 last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 a much longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly 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 several advantages to real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other type of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can showcase 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 right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate 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 utility bills all 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 noise than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

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

Regardless of the material you choose, 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? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Portsmouth. They’ll help you find the windows that best suit 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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