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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 right replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem endless.

Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place more importance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to buy 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. As 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 increase energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide variety of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s look. Instead of 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 likelihood 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 required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its less expensive price compared to other material types, some 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 testing, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical makeup of the vinyl material used in frame construction. 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 present a stronger selection than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide significant increases in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. 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 conventional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety 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 as part of the construction process to give colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are 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 a significantly longer-term investment the style 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 situations, only wood will do. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their home. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to 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, an array 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 right now.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help insulate 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 you money on power bills throughout the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

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

Cons
  • Cost

    Exceptional materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Albuquerque. 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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