When it comes to finding the right replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more emphasis on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to purchase new windows is the type of material used in a window frame and sash.
Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has unique 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 more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While the majority of modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because 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 increase energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. Instead of 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 likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
Thanks to vinyl windows, you don’t have to do too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable 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 used thousands of times to show 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 defend against 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 made from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis 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 feature frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior 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 bring significant increases in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme elements.
- Composite Strength
Some 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 part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, combining layers of materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that give 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 endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
While they are 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 a much longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the positive effect on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will suffice. Despite 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 house. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the best 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 unlike any other type of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely 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 keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on utility bills any time of 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to make sure that wood replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.
Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of St. Paul. 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.