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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 deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to review. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put 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 considered when planning to add 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 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 most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain 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 add more energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that fits your home’s design. As opposed to 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 likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to 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 intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, 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 focusing on air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis 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 feature frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer 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 increases in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to give colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of 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 significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, 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. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home far better than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on energy bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to 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 vital to make sure that wooden replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Davenport. 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. 
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