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

Some customers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put 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 kind 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you need 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 all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • 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 paramount 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 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 fight weather challenges while keeping your home protected. It all makes for 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. Throughout their existence, 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 crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from 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 traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect 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 stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more affordable 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 appearance of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially 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 match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and modern black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on energy bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, 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 important to make sure that wood 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. 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 choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Murray. They’ll help you discover 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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