When deciding on 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 endless.
Some buyers decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, like 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 add new windows is the sort 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices 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 contain some of the toughest defenses against gaps and leaks in window frames. As they are created 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 create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows provide a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to 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
When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its less expensive 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 intensely. Window designs are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows bring a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can bring significant improvements 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*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme elements.
- Composite Strength
Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer designs that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
While they present a more affordable 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 style of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Especially when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to real wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and contemporary black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design at the moment.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help retain warmth in a home with less effort than almost any other type 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 offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.
Top-of-the-line materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to 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 vital to check that wood-framed replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature 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 frames.
Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Bloomington. They’ll help you discover the windows that best match 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.