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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 choosing the right 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 endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others put more importance on the window’s features, including 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 purchase new windows is the sort 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 would do well to 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 choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest guards 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built 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 all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its lower price compared to other material types, some 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 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. 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 pleasant. 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 criticism over the chemical composition of the vinyl material used in frame manufacturing. 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant positive changes in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, combining layers of 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 choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more cost-effective 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 impact on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are many reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • 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 safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on utility bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also bring 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 unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to check that wooden replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Hingham. 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. 
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