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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 ideal 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 reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more emphasis on the window’s features, such as 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 buy 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 specific 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 economical 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 almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 offer a wide array of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its less expensive price compared to other material types, many 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 intensely. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame production. 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 consist of 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 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 offer significant increases in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that reflect the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices 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 offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more cost-effective way to get the appearance 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 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 fit. 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.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other kind of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and subtle 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 far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on energy bills throughout 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 sounds than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional style, 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 come 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 select, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Westerly. 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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