When choosing the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many factors to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others put more emphasis 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 thought about when planning to add new windows is the kind 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:
The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows offer 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 toughest 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s look. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you prefer when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
When it comes to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its lower price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built to stand the test of time. But durability is important when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests analyzing air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical basis 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows bring a stronger selection 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 offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather.
- Composite Strength
A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish 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 during manufacturing to give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics 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 significantly longer-term investment the style of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to real wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t only 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 today.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help insulate a home more efficiently than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save families money on energy bills any time of the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to make sure that wooden replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows come with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Minneapolis. They’ll help you discover 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.