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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 things to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their space’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 might 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 sort 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 should 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s design. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you need 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 too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 thoroughly. Window designs are submitted to 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. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. It all makes for 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical composition 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 feature] frames made 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide significant positive changes in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection 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 at the factory to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present 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 a significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their home. 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 match for 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 classic 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 solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home more efficiently 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 any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional look, 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 vital to make sure that wooden replacement windows come treated before 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 strong protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

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