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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 perfect replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

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

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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

    When it comes to 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 required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built 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 are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all helps create 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 makeup 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows present a stronger selection 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 in comparison 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 elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that give the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will suffice. 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. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute 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 kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t solely 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 insulate a home more efficiently than almost any other kind 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 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 protection from outside sound, 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 usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional style, 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 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 effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

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