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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 ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to review. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some customers decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. 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 examined when planning to purchase new windows is the type 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get 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-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the best protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. As 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s style. Rather than 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks 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 needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, some 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 this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests focusing on air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under criticism over the chemical composition 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 feature] frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring a stronger choice 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs 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 produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t the right choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t just 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 today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

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

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help impact 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 South Burlington. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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