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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 deciding on 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 buyers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more significance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to buy new windows is the kind of material used in a window frame and sash.

Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are made from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

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

  • Low Maintenance

    When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, 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 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 selection than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer significant improvements in energy efficiency in comparison 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 more protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s creation. 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, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more cost-effective way to get the appearance 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 increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to genuine 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, 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 right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on energy bills any time of the 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous asses 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 might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to make sure that wood replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of West Springfield. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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