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

Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place 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 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 commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest protections 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 feature 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 find a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you prefer 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 necessary, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, people 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 testing, the window’s function is operated 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 stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis 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 include frames created 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 bring significant increases in energy efficiency compared 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 stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of 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, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 more of a longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, 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 might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other sort 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 only older, traditional homes that benefit from the style 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 kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save families money on power bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous increase 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 can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain 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 strong 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 increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Traverse City. 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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