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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many features to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more importance 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 buy new windows is the type 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 should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaners 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 intensely. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, 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 pleasant. 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 made from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack 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 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 in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers 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 choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more affordable way to get the appearance of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially 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 many things to like about frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the style of wood windows. Sleek and modern 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 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 power bills any time of the 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to check that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of 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.

Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Lafayette. 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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