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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 endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their space’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 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 type 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections 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 best 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 improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built 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 much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally 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 key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. 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 focusing on air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all results in 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 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior 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 offer significant increases in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. 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 due to composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like 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 selection of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 appearance of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about 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 traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and subtle 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 more efficiently than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save families money on energy bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature 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 type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional architecture, 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 important to check that wood-framed replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated 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 windows.

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help impact 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 Bloomington, IN. 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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