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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place 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 thought about 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 frequently 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 present flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. As opposed to 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

    Thanks to 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 needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 made from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 feature frames crafted 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 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 include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection 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 during manufacturing to create colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

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

  • 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 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 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 unmatched by any other type of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase 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 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 protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on utility bills any time of 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. 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 builders who must match their home’s traditional look, 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 check that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Shrewsbury. They’ll help you select the windows that best fit 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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