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

Some customers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place 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 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 materials used most often in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the toughest 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you want 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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 created from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent 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 offer 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 nationwide*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, 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, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a selection of colors to finishes that create the appearance 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 create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more affordable way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much 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 fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the style of wood windows. Sleek and subtle 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 more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you money on utility 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come 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 frames.

No matter which material you decide on, 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 Muncie. They’ll help you select 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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