When it comes to finding the right replacement window for your home, there are many things to examine. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some buyers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others focus 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 add 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get 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 provide flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best defenses 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 add more energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s style. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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
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 necessary, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, some might think vinyl windows aren’t able to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows intensely. Window designs withstand 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. After that, tests focusing on 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. Throughout their existence, 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows present a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can provide significant improvements in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme conditions.
- Composite Strength
A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” implies, 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, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to give colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.
While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look 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 increased level of curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to match 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 better choice wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to genuine 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, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance 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 keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save you 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who need to match their home’s traditional style, 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 vital to make sure that wooden replacement windows come treated before 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 damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.
Regardless of the material you choose, replacement windows can help increase 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 Boston. They’ll help you find 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.