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 function, 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 importance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to purchase 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 need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.Pros:
- Energy Efficient
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s style. 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest protections 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 improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.
- 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 key 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 conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical makeup of the vinyl material used in frame manufacturing. 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 include frames made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
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 offer significant positive changes in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more 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 creation. 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, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they are a more affordable 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 appearance of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some houses, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose genuine wood.Pros
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other kind of material. From classic 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 only 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 at the moment.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home more efficiently than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners 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 strength of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor sounds than other type of window frames.
Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who require a 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 important to make sure that wood-framed 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. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Casper. They’ll help you find the windows that best match your needs, style and budget.