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

Some customers decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus 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 sort 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 need to 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 economical of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can find a window that suits your home’s design. Instead of 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount 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 operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all results in 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 assault 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 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 option 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look 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 increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • 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 be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about real 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 highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the look 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 insulate a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills all 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also create 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 unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wooden 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. It helps ensure tough protection from the damage caused by 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 San Antonio. They’ll help you find 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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