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

Some buyers decide that a window blending with their home’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 might also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to purchase 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 need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get 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 more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest defenses 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s design. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created 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

    With 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 cleaning solutions will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people 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 thoroughly. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is used thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests focusing on air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical basis 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 feature 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 option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.

Pros
  • Increased Energy Efficiency

    Fiberglass windows can provide 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 throughout the country*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements. 

  • 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” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that give 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 create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they present a more affordable 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 style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some homes, only wood will do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their house. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t the best choice.

Wood Windows

For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to real wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the style 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 keep things comfortable in a home with less effort 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 you money on energy bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows feature 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

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

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames may 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 come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.

Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Binghamton. 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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