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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 buyers decide that a window blending with their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more significance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass might 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 materials used most often in frames and sashes. Each material type has distinct 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 offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

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

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s style. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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

    When it comes to 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 required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 rigorously. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, 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 conditions 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. Since their first creation, 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 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can offer significant increases in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly 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 better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

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

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help retain warmth in a home far better than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on power bills all 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 noise than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with top-of-the-line 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 far longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important 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.

Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Raleigh. 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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