When it comes to finding the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem endless.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more importance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have considered 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 frequently used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are some points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all 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 created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows provide a wide array of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built 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
Thanks 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 needed, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people 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 rigorously. Window designs face laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is tried thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame production. 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 consist of frames made 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 bring significant positive changes in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme conditions.
- Composite Strength
Part 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 portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices 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 feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that mimics 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 later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their space. 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many things to like about genuine wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other kind of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t only older, traditional homes that benefit from the style of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design today.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help insulate a home with less effort than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save families money on power bills throughout the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other style of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional look, 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 necessary 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. This helps ensure enhanced protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.
Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Des Moines. They’ll help you select the windows that best fit 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.