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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 consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.

Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more significance 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 buy new windows is the type 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest 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 provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s look. Rather than 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 chance 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 needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 made from natural materials. Since their first creation, 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 superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

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 bring significant increases in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient 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 significantly longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will do. Despite 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. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the right choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice 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 unmatched by 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 enhance the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the look 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 retain warmth in a home far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save families money on energy bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor sounds than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who require a match their home’s traditional style, 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 are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

Regardless of the material you choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Natick. 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. 
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