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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 choosing the right replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place more importance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to purchase new windows is the type 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 would do well to factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best guards 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 increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s design. 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

    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 necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, some 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 thoroughly. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 include] frames crafted 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 offer a stronger selection 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 offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

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

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more budget-friendly 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 will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for 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 an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several reasons to choose genuine wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other sort 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 look of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills all 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 style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that wood-framed replacement windows come treated before 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 tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you choose, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Tucson. They’ll help you select 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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