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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 choosing the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem confusing.

Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more importance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.

However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to buy new windows is the sort 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:

Vinyl Windows

The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.

Pros: 
  • Energy Efficient
  • While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the best 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 feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.

  • Design Flexibility

    Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s look. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you need when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint. 

  • Low Maintenance

    Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do much 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 inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During testing, 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 focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack 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 feature 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 bring significant positive changes in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme weather. 

  • 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 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 variety of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing 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 looks like real wood grain.

Cons
  • Cost 

    While they offer a more cost-effective way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.

  • Not Quite Traditional

    For some houses, only wood will fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. Particularly 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 match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about 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 timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t only 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 today.

  • A Natural Insulator

    Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you money on utility bills throughout 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noises 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, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to 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 replacement windows come treated before 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 tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.

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