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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 use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more emphasis 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when purchasing 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 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 feature some of the toughest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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 all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its lower price compared to other material types, some 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 withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated 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 protected. 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 created from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer significant positive changes in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, 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, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the look 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 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 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 more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to 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, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette 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 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 far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much 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 unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wood replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

No matter which material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Washington DC. They’ll help you discover 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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