When deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many things to consider. From style to price to function, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.
Some customers decide that a window reflecting their home’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. 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 thought about when planning to purchase new windows is the kind 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 need to factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style choices 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 contain some of the strongest protections 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 offer added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide array of options so you can find a window that fits your home’s look. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are built in the color you prefer 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 too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaning solutions will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its lower price compared to other material types, people 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 thoroughly. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During testing, the window’s function is used thousands of times to prove durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests focusing on air, water and thermal factors make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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 built from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault over the chemical composition 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 feature frames crafted from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows offer a stronger option than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can offer 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 in all 50 states*. With the addition of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even more protection against extreme elements.
- Composite Strength
Part of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is due to composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, layering materials to build even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection of colors to finishes that give the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame at the factory to add colors that may stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also include a durable powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they offer 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 appearance of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, 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 match a traditional or historic look in their house. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be an ideal choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are numerous things to like about 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, like oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can highlight 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 far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and mild in the summer and can save homeowners money on energy bills throughout the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will hold off more outdoor sounds than other style of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames frequently have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous asses to home resale value. And for homeowners who require a match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.
- 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 feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. It helps ensure tough protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Fall River. They’ll help you discover 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.