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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 factors to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, such as 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 add new windows is the kind 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 would do well to factor them into their decision when buying 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 provide flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest guards 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 feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can find a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you want 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 all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, 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 important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. 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. Following those trials, tests focusing on 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical basis 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 feature frames made 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 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 include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of 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 designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process 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 are a more budget-friendly way to get the style of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much 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 situations, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. 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 several reasons to choose genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other kind of material. From timeless 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 just 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 keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you money on utility bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for builders who need to match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Cheyenne. 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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