When deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some customers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others put more significance on the window’s features, including 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 buy new windows is the type 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 unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:
The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.
- Energy Efficient
While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest protections 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 improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can create a window that matches your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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
When it comes to 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 cleaning solutions will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its lower price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all results in 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 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 include frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows offer a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can offer significant increases in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present 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 weather.
- Composite Strength
Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a collection of colors to finishes that create the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame during manufacturing to create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
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 will helps 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 the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy 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.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about genuine wood.
- 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, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help retain warmth in a home more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners money on utility bills any time of the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other style of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must match their home’s traditional style, 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 important to be certain 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. It helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
No matter which material you choose, 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 Greensboro. 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.