When it comes to finding the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some homeowners decide that a window complementing their house’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 can also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have thought about when planning to add new windows is the sort 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 distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While the majority of modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since 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 bring a wide array of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s design. Rather than 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
When it comes to 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 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 intensely. Window designs withstand 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. After that, tests dealing with air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can fight 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows bring 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 compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more 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” indicates, glass has long been a component of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, combining layers of materials to build even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a collection of colors to finishes that reflect the character 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 feature a durable powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of 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 more of a longer-term investment the style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some houses, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no better choice wood-framed windows. There are numerous reasons to choose real wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is incomporable to any other sort of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the look 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 with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners 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 density of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.
Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames usually have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to make sure that wooden 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 strong protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our windows.
Regardless of the material you decide on, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of Overland Park. 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.