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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 perfect replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass might 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 some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer 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 prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks 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 cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people 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 rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring a stronger selection 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 comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of 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 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, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to 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, such as 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 style of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design right now.

  • 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 safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wood-framed replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Indianapolis. They’ll help you select 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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