When deciding on the perfect 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 homeowners decide that a window blending with their home’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more significance 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 thought about when planning to add 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 should 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 selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While most modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows feature some of the strongest protections against gaps and leaks in window frames. Because they are built from a synthetic material, vinyl windows can be easily welded at the seams and many vinyl windows feature steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to add more energy efficiency and create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide variety of options so you can create a window that fits your home’s look. As opposed to 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 possibility of fading, chipping or peeling paint.
- Low Maintenance
When it comes 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 necessary, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its lower price compared to other material types, many 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 rigorously. Window designs withstand 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 dealing with air, water and thermal elements make sure that vinyl frames can stand up to weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. It all helps create 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. Throughout their existence, vinyl windows have come under assault 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 made from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for superior weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows bring a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can provide significant improvements in energy efficiency in comparison to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all 50 states*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme weather.
- Composite Strength
Some of the increased energy efficiency in fiberglass windows is there because of composite materials used in the frame’s creation. As the name “fiberglass” suggests, glass has long been a portion of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on the old glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a selection of colors to finishes that reflect the character of real wood, fiberglass windows offer options that fit any home’s style. Finishes can be baked into the frame as part of the construction process to give colors that may last for years. Fiberglass windows can also offer a long-lasting powder-coat finish that produces windows with a texture that looks like real wood grain.
While they present a more cost-effective way to get the style of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much longer-term investment the appearance of your home. But the impact on your curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will do. Regardless of improvements in finishing techniques and the flexibility to be painted, fiberglass frames will likely not satisfy the needs of homeowners looking to match a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably 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 match 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 unmatched by any other kind of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, such as oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can showcase the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the appearance 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 keep things comfortable in a home with less effort than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer and can save you 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will block out more outdoor noise than other kind of window frames.
Top-of-the-line materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames usually have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last far longer than most other windows. They also bring a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for builders who need to 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 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. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.
Whichever material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to new windows for your home? Talk to the professionals at Pella of North Carolina. 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.