Skip to Content
Blog
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 intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some customers 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, such as 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 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 some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective 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 strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are built from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature 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 create a window that matches your home’s style. Instead of 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 likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, 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 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 used thousands of times to test 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 fight 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 built from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition 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 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 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 bring significant improvements 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” suggests, glass has long been a part 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 build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices 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 include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics 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 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 in the future.

  • 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 satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best 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 incomporable to any other kind of material. From traditional 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 just 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 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 cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners 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 density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently 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 priceless.

  • 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 ahead of 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 products.

Regardless of the 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? Chat with 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. 
Back to Blog