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

Some customers decide that a window blending with their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more significance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need 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 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 place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. As they are made 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 offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can find a window that suits your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 intensely. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is tried 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 pleasant. 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 attack over the chemical basis 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 crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows bring 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 positive changes in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions. 

  • Composite Strength

    Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to create colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they are a more cost-effective 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 beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home later.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best choice.

Wood Windows

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

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and modern black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy 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 noise than other kind of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for builders who must match their home’s traditional look, 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 important to be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.

Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Kelowna. They’ll help you find 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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