When it comes to finding the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others put more significance on the window’s features, including 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 buy 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 should 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.
- Energy Efficient
While most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the best guards 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more 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. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are crafted 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 much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its lower price compared to other material types, some 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 withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is used thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under attack 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 include frames created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent 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 provide 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 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 is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a component 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 selection of colors to finishes that give 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 create colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.
While they are 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 significantly longer-term investment the beauty of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will suffice. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. 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 substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many 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 classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely 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 insulate a home more efficiently than almost any other kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild in the summer and can save you money on energy bills all year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.
Premium materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames usually 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 windows. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families 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 vital to check that wood replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows are treated with EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure enhanced 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 improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to improved windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of El Paso. 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.