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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 features to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more emphasis on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have considered 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 most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 economical of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can find a window that suits your home’s design. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built 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

    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 needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many 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 thoroughly. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 built from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame production. 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 excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide 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*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more cost-effective way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best 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 unlike any other kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance 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 keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners money on utility bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners 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 vital to check that wooden 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. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Owensboro. 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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