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

Some customers decide that a window reflecting their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more significance on the window’s features, such as 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 purchase new windows is the type 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 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the strongest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are created 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 provide added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s style. Rather than 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 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.

Cons
  • Perceived Quality

    Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated 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 conditions make sure that vinyl frames can fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition 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 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 bring significant positive changes in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme weather. 

  • Composite Strength

    Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.

  • Color and Texture Options

    From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer 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 more of a longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some situations, only wood will fit. 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. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best 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 frames made from wood.

Pros
  • Classic and Contemporary Style 

    Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely 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 far better than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on energy bills any time of the year.

  • Protection from Sound and Weather

    Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.

Cons
  • Cost

    Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.

  • Need for Treatment

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

Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Lethbridge. 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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