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

Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their home’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 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 kind 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 distinct 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 have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best guards 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 add more energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s design. 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

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 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 present 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 increases in energy efficiency in contrast 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 greater protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, layering materials to build 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 as part of the construction process to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics 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 much 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 suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to real 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, an array 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 with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on utility bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer 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 sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who need to match their home’s traditional style, 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 important to check that wooden replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Mt. Pleasant. They’ll help you discover the windows that best fit 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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