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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 ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some buyers decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put more emphasis on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to add new windows is the kind 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are created 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you want when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks 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

    Due to 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 withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried 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 fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 created from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical basis 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 consist of 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 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 include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s design. 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 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 create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are 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 style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home far better 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 families money on utility bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

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

Regardless of the material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Falls Church. They’ll help you find 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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