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

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

However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to buy new windows is the kind 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 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 a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the best 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 increase energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can find a window that matches your home’s look. Rather than 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

    With 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 cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t built 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 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. 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 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 created from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis 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 superior 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 offer significant improvements in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include 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

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build 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 give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more affordable way to get the appearance of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for 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 are not an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other sort of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t just 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 far better than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional style, 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 important to check that wood-framed replacement windows come treated ahead of 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 impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Evansville. 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. 
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