When deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many things to examine. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some homeowners decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others place more significance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have considered when planning to purchase 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners need to factor them into their decision when buying a new or replacement home window. Here are a few 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 most modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest guards 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 feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to increase energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can choose a window that fits 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 chance 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! Normally a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its less expensive price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows thoroughly. 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 analyzing air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line 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 offer significant improvements in energy efficiency compared to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger protection against extreme elements.
- Composite Strength
Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s construction. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to build even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection 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 during manufacturing to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
While they present a more budget-friendly way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a significantly longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the impact 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 fit. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to reflect a traditional or historic look in their house. 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 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 kind of material. From traditional dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t only 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 kind of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills all year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows offer the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.
Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for families who need to match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s necessary to be certain that wood replacement windows come treated prior to installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. This helps ensure tough protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Whichever material you decide on, 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? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Ketchum. They’ll help you select 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca