When choosing the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to review. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some buyers decide that a window reflecting their space’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place more significance 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 materials used most often in frames and sashes. Each material type has unique advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While most 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 created from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s design. As opposed to 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
With vinyl windows, you don’t have to do all that much upkeep once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 are submitted to laboratory cycle testing. During this testing process, the window’s function is used thousands of times to test 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 defend against weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows present 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 increases in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather.
- Composite Strength
A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that create the appearance of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they offer a more affordable way to get the style 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 houses, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably 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 numerous reasons to choose frames made from wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like 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 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 more efficiently 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 homeowners money on utility 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 protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.
Premium materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames frequently have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who require a match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to check that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure strong protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Whichever material you choose, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Annapolis. 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.