When it comes to finding the right replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.
Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus more importance 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 materials used most often in frames and sashes. Each material type has unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:
The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.
- Energy Efficient
While most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 offer added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you want 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 much 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
Due to its less expensive price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests focusing on air, water and thermal elements 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 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 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows bring a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can provide significant positive changes 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 stronger protection against extreme conditions.
- Composite Strength
A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they offer a more budget-friendly way to get the style of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will suffice. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous advantages to genuine wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, an array 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 subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help insulate a home more efficiently than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills all year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.
Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wooden 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. It helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
No matter which 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? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Charlotte. 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.