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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 features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some buyers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others put more significance 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 thought about when planning to add new windows is the sort 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 distinct 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 economical 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 most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 create added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s design. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted in the color you want 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 needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Because of 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 important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 attack over the chemical composition of the vinyl material used in frame manufacturing. 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows offer 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*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some 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 portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a collection of colors to finishes that give the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more budget-friendly way to get the appearance of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much 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 fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 are not the right choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other type 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 only older, traditional homes that benefit from the look of wood windows. Sleek and modern 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 cozy in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on power bills any time of the 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 sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor sounds than other type of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember 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 must match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.

  • Need for Treatment

    Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to check 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 tough protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

No matter which material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Edmonton. 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca
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