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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 perfect replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some buyers decide that a window blending with their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place more emphasis on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to buy new windows is the type 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 buying a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s look. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    When it comes to 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 needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can fight weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical makeup 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 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 bring a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant increases in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part 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 portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look 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 add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more affordable 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 appearance of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their house. 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 incomporable to any other sort of material. From traditional 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 only 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 today.

  • 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 homeowners money on power 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 hold off more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners 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 be certain that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure strong protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Petoskey. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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