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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 features to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some customers decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing 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 selections 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 include some of the strongest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are created 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 provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you want when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to 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 less expensive price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, 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 factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. It all makes for 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 built from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition of the vinyl material used in frame production. 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant increases in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme conditions. 

  • 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” indicates, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like 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 selection of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more cost-effective way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly 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 in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably 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 numerous reasons to choose genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home more efficiently than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of 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 strong protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Birmingham. They’ll help you discover 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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