When deciding on the right replacement window for your home, there are many features to examine. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem endless.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their top priority. Others focus more importance on the window’s features, like energy efficiency. The type of glass can also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have examined when planning to buy new windows is the kind of material used in a window frame and sash.
Vinyl, fiberglass and wood are the three most frequently used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific 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 budget-friendly of window materials, vinyl windows provide flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-end windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the best guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are made from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can create a window that suits your home’s style. 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
With 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 needed, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its lower price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows aren’t able 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 face laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is used thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Following those trials, tests focusing on air, water and thermal conditions 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 created from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 include] frames made 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 in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. 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 design. 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 conventional glass particles, layering materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that give the appearance 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 offer a durable powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.
While they offer 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 beauty of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will be useful if you’re looking to sell your home down the road.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not be right for the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Particularly when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows are not the right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are many advantages to 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, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, an array of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance of wood windows. Sleek and subtle black wood window frames are one of the hottest trends in interior design right now.
- 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 cool in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills all year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows feature the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The density of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.
Top-of-the-line materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also bring a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for builders who need to match their home’s traditional architecture, the benefits of wood frames are priceless.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames may suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s vital 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 strong protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.
Whichever material you decide on, replacement windows can help improve a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to get going down the road to new windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Mankato. They’ll help you find 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 or go to energystar.gc.ca