When choosing 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 endless.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more significance on the window’s features, including energy efficiency. The type of glass may also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to buy new windows is the sort of material used in a window frame and sash.
Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:
The most budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all modern windows put 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s look. Rather than staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you want when they’re constructed at the factory. That means a lower chance 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows aren’t built 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 the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to show 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 fight 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 created 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 crafted 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 selection than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can offer 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 throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater 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 creation. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, layering materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that give the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer choices that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process 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 looks like real wood grain.
While they offer a more budget-friendly way to get the appearance 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 increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly 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 several advantages to frames made from wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unlike any other kind 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 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 insulate a home far better than almost any other style 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 all year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.
Exceptional materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably 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 wood replacement windows come treated prior to 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 windows.
Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to begin down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Hunt Valley. 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.