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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 perfect replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some customers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put more importance on the window’s features, including 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 buy new windows is the type 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 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 some points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that fits your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created 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 too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of 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 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 analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 attack over the chemical makeup of the vinyl material used in frame construction. 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

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

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety 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 give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are 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 more of a longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other type of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t only 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 retain warmth in a home far better than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to check that wood 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. This helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Lewes. They’ll help you discover 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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