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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 ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. 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 main concern. Others place more significance 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 thought about 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 frequently 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 important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the toughest protections 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 add more energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s design. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you want when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

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

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive 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 thoroughly. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical composition of the vinyl material used in frame construction. 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 crafted 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 present a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer 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 in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices 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 include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more cost-effective way to get the style 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 impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • 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 be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably 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 several advantages to genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only 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 retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save families money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also have 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 necessary to make sure that wooden replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Peoria. 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. 
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