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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 examine. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more importance 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 considered when planning to purchase new windows is the sort 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 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 present flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. As 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 increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that fits your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

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

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried 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 elements make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, 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 include frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer 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 improvements in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present 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 weather. 

  • 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, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more budget-friendly way to get the style of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a 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 houses, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the right choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other type of material. From timeless 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 style of wood windows. Sleek and modern black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save you money on energy bills any time of the 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 hold off more outdoor noises than other style 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, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional look, 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 be certain that wood-framed 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. This helps ensure strong protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Colorado Springs. 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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