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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 features to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, like 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 add new windows is the kind 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are built from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can find a window that matches your home’s style. 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 required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its less expensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. It all helps create 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 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 feature frames created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring 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 improvements in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include 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 weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection 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 during manufacturing to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more cost-effective way to get the appearance 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 positive effect on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are many reasons to choose frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort 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 appearance 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 keep things comfortable in a home more efficiently 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 homeowners money on utility bills all year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families 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 necessary to make sure that wood replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced 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 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? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Victoria. They’ll help you find the windows that best suit 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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