When deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many factors to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more emphasis on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass may 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 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 specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners should 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 present flexible style choices that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the best 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and offer added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s design. Instead of 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 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! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Considering its inexpensive price compared to other material types, some 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 tried thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests dealing with air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home protected. 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under attack over the chemical basis of the vinyl material used in frame construction. 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 crafted 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 selection 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 in all 50 states*. With the addition 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 design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a part 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 variety of colors to finishes that create the look of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options 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 resilient powder-coat finish that results in windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.
While they are a more affordable way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them more of a 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 do. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Especially 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 things to like about real 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, like 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 style 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 with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay safe from the cold in the winter and cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on utility bills any time of the 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 block out more outdoor noises than other type of window frames.
Top-of-the-line materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames usually have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass windows. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who require a match their home’s traditional look, the benefits of wood frames are unbeatable.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames might suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital to make sure 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 tough protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to new windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Northern Virginia. 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.