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

Some customers decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. 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 considered when planning to add new windows is the sort of material used in a window frame and sash.

Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three materials used most often 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s design. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created 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

    When it comes 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 required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its lower price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is important 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 used thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all helps create 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical makeup 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 made 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 bring significant increases in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

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

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable 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 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 significantly longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to 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 classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as 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 appearance of wood windows. Sleek and modern black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

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

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must 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 important to check 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. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you choose, replacement windows can help impact 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 Nashville. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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