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

Some customers decide that a window complementing 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 may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to add new windows is the type 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 should 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style options 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 contain some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. As they are built from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do all that much upkeep 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

    Because of its lower price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried 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 elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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. Throughout their existence, 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 offer a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring 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 nationwide*. 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 is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection 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 during manufacturing to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will do. Regardless of 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 space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance 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 with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on power 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 hold off more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium 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 notably longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

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

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Southern Pines. 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. 
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