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

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more importance on the window’s features, like 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get 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 present flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest 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 bring a wide array of options so you can choose a window that fits your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering 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 paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal elements 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical makeup of the vinyl material used in frame construction. 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 top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer 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 improvements in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that give the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs 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 offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more budget-friendly 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 positive effect on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly 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 match for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including 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 contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other type 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 power bills all 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may 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 are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help improve 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 Scottsdale. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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