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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many factors to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some customers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus 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 buy 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to 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 economical of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. As 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 increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can find a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you prefer 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 too much maintenance 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, some might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to show 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 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 built from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 include frames made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior 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 positive changes in energy efficiency in comparison 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 stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a component 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 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 choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 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 later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, 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 show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several things to like about frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

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

  • 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 energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength 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

    Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wood replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

No matter which material you choose, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Fargo. They’ll help you select the windows that best suit 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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