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

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more emphasis 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 add new windows is the sort of material used in a window frame and sash.

Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three materials used most often in frames and sashes. Each material type has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when buying 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 offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest defenses 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 feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s design. 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 possibility 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built 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 are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 made from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide significant positive changes 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 stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to 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 the old glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that give the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices 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 feature a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 much longer-term investment the style 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 homes, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially 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 better choice wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike 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 highlight 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 at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on utility bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated before 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 damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Plattsburgh. They’ll help you select 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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