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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 it comes to finding the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many factors to review. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some customers decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others put more emphasis on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about 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 a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

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
  • While almost all modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

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

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks 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 needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive 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 rigorously. 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition 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

Fiberglass windows offer 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 positive changes in energy efficiency in contrast 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 more protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from 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 conventional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect the appearance 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 offer a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more cost-effective way to get the style of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will do. 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 match a traditional or historic look in their house. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for 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 incomporable to any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and modern 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 safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on power 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 hold off more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, 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 necessary to make sure that wood 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 strong 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 start down the road to improved 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.

 
*Some Pella products may not meet ENERGY STAR® guidelines in Canada. For more information, contact your local Pella sales representative. 
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