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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 features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put 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 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 important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective 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 most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are made from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s style. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its lower price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 the test, the window’s function is used thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 created from natural materials. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical makeup 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 crafted 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 offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering 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 choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of 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 more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several reasons to choose real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other type of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t just 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 today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on utility bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who require a match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to be certain that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure tough 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 increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Baltimore. They’ll help you discover 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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