When it comes to finding the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many features to consider. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem confusing.
Some buyers decide that a window blending with their house’s architectural or interior design is their main concern. Others place 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 type 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 should factor them into their decision when it comes time to get a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:
The most cost-effective of window materials, vinyl windows present flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.
- Energy Efficient
While most modern windows place a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the toughest 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 include steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide array of options so you can choose a window that matches your home’s design. Instead of staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created 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 too much maintenance once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Most often a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its lower price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is paramount when it comes to Pella vinyl windows. Pella tests their vinyl windows rigorously. Window designs withstand laboratory cycle testing. During the test, the window’s function is operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. Then, tests analyzing air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can fight weather challenges while keeping your home comfortable. 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 made from natural materials. Over the years, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 feature frames created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for excellent 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 in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows offer 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
A portion of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows comes from composite materials used in the frame’s design. As the name “fiberglass” implies, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, such as Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on conventional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to provide even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that reflect 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 stay vibrant for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a resilient powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they offer a more budget-friendly way to get the style 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 positive effect on your curb appeal won’t hurt if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some homes, only wood will suffice. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and paint options, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their space. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows might not be the best choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no match for wood-framed windows. There are several things to like about genuine wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other sort of material. From timeless dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t just older, traditional homes that benefit from the look 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 with less effort than almost any other style of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and protected from the heat in the summer and can save homeowners money on power bills any time of the year.
- Protection from Sound and Weather
Wood-framed windows provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The heft of wood also offers increased sound protection, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor sounds than other kind of window frames.
Premium materials come with top-of-the-line prices. Wood frames generally have a more expensive initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, know that properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other styles. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who must 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 important to check that wood-framed 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 strong protection from the damage caused by moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
No matter which material you decide on, 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 Syracuse. They’ll help you select the windows that best suit 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.