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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 use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some buyers decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more significance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to purchase new windows is the sort 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are built 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 provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you want 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its lower price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 consist of frames crafted 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide 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 nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to 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 the old glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that give 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 create colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more affordable way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a longer-term investment the style 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 situations, only wood will do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the style 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 more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills throughout 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 hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important 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. This helps ensure strong protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you choose, 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? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Roanoke. 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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