When it comes to finding the perfect replacement window for your home, there are many features to review. From style to price to intended usage, the options available for windows can seem endless.
Some buyers decide that a window blending with their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. 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 examined 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 commonly used materials in frames and sashes. Each material type has specific advantages and disadvantages. Homeowners would do well to factor them into their decision when purchasing a new or replacement home window. Here are a few points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style selections that include many of the same features available in more expensive windows.
- Energy Efficient
While the majority of modern windows put a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows include some of the toughest guards against gaps and leaks in window frames. Since they are made 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 create added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows offer a wide variety of options so you can choose a window that suits your home’s look. As opposed to staining or treating the frame, vinyl frames are created in the color you need 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 much once they’re installed. Just keep them clean! Usually a basic garden hose, soft cloth and, if required, non-abrasive cleansers will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Due to its lower price compared to other material types, people might think vinyl windows are unable 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 this testing process, 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 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 built from natural materials. Since their first creation, vinyl windows have come under criticism 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 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 bring 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 contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows present energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines nationwide*. Including optional foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even greater protection against extreme elements.
- Composite Strength
Part 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, like Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, combining layers of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that create the look 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 create colors that may endure for years. Fiberglass windows can also feature a long-lasting powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that mimics real wood grain.
While they present a more cost-effective way to get the look of wood windows into your home, fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. That makes them a much 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 later.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will fit. Despite improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet 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 aren’t the right choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several advantages to frames made from 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, like oak, pine and cherry wood, a range of options can highlight the look of any home. It isn’t solely older, traditional homes that benefit from the style 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 retain warmth in a home far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay cozy 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 provide the thickest, most dense material for window frames. The strength of wood also offers increased protection from outside sound, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noises than other kind of window frames.
Premium materials come with premium prices. Wood frames frequently have a greater initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass options. However, remember properly maintained wood frames can last much longer than most other frames. They also have a tremendous benefit to home resale value. And for families who must match their home’s traditional style, the benefits of wood frames are unmatched.
- Need for Treatment
Wood window frames can suffer from damage if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to be certain that wood replacement windows come treated ahead of 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 strong protection from the effects of moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our products.
Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help increase a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to beautiful windows for your home? Chat with the professionals at Pella of Champaign. They’ll help you discover 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.