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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 it comes to finding the right replacement window for your home, there are many features to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some buyers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more significance on the window’s features, like 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 purchase 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can find a window that matches 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 chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers 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 intensely. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 made from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical composition 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can bring significant increases in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion 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 part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old 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 options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics 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 a significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, 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 reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best 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 traditional 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 at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills any time of 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. 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 may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated prior to 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 enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Kalamazoo. They’ll help you find 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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