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

Some buyers decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more importance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined 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 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are built 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s style. Rather than 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 likelihood 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is used 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 fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior 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 improvements 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*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part 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 component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection 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 add colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 significantly 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 down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match 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 type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array 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 at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on energy bills all 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 block out more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for families who require a 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 replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Cape Cod. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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