When choosing the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many things to review. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.
Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their house’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others place 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 considered when planning to purchase new windows is the kind 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:
The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style selections 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. As they are built 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 provide added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s design. Rather than 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 likelihood of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
When it comes to 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 required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its less expensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built 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 withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. It all makes for 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 attack 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 feature frames made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows present 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 offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. With the addition of 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 component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as 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 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 give colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
While they present a more cost-effective 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 be useful 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 match 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 substitute 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 unlike any other kind 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 just 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 right now.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you money on utility bills throughout the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.
Exceptional materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who must 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 vital to make sure 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. EnduraGuard helps ensure strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of South Portland. They’ll help you select 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.