Vinyl, Fiberglass or Wood? Which Window Material is Best for your Home?
When choosing the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some buyers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place more importance 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 examined when planning to purchase 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 should 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:
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
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s style. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created 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! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.
While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are made 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.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 thoroughly. Window designs are submitted to 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. Following those trials, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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 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 feature frames made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
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 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 in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather.
- 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” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a collection of colors to finishes that give the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
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 beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 are not the right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice 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 type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight 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 more efficiently than almost any other style 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 provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who need to match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames might 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 are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Kingston. They’ll help you select the windows that best match your needs, style and budget.