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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. 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 purchase new windows is the sort 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 purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since 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 create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety 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 crafted in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility 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 cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is operated 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 elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 made from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis 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 include frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

  • Composite Strength

    Part 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 component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 a much longer-term investment the style of your home. But the positive effect on your 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 do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including 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 appearance of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on power 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 dampen more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to be certain that wood 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. It helps ensure tough protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Grand Rapids. They’ll help you discover 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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