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

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put more emphasis on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass can 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 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 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 provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest protections 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 improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s style. 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 likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its lower price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack 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 include frames made 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

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

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, 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, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to give colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more budget-friendly 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 style of your home. But the positive effect 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 do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely 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 at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild 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 heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional look, 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 replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated 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 windows.

No matter which material you decide on, 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? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Winston-Salem. 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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