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

Some buyers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place more emphasis 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 thought about 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 frequently used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-end 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s design. As opposed to 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 chance 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its lower price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is important 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 tried thousands of times to prove 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 defend against 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical makeup 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 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 bring a stronger selection 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 present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. 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 conventional glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look 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 offer a resilient powder-coat finish that results in 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 style 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 will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice 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 sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette 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 today.

  • 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 cozy in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on energy bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wood-framed 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 enhanced protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Haverhill. They’ll help you find 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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