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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 it comes to finding the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put 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 buy 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 unique 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:

Vinyl Windows

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

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since 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 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 too much maintenance 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

    Considering its lower price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount 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 tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal elements 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 makeup 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 created 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 choice 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of 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 component 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 during manufacturing to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy 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.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute 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 timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like 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 contemporary 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 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 homeowners money on energy bills any time of 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, 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 be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Regardless of the 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? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Kingston. 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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