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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many features to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more significance 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 purchase new windows is the sort 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s design. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you want 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 all that much upkeep 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

    Because of its lower price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is used thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 assault over the chemical makeup 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 crafted 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 provide significant positive changes 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 greater protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part 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, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 a much longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for 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 aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From traditional 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 subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills throughout the 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to 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 impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Whichever material you decide on, 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? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Denver. They’ll help you select 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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