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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some customers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more importance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass might 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 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 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style choices 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 feature some of the best defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. As 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 increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s look. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you want 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal conditions 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical composition 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 include 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 bring a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide 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 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 portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates 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 a much longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are several things to like about genuine 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, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the look 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 keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who require a match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wooden 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. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Providence. 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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