When deciding on the ideal replacement window for your home, there are many features to review. From style to price to use, the options available for windows can seem overwhelming.
Some customers decide that a window complementing their space’s architectural or interior design is their first order of business. Others put more significance on the window’s features, such as energy efficiency. The type of glass might also play a role in the decision.
However, a common area homeowners might not have examined 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 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 buying a new or replacement home window. Here are important points to consider about different window materials:
The most economical of window materials, vinyl windows offer flexible style options that include many of the same features available in higher-priced windows.
- Energy Efficient
While almost all modern windows have a strong focus on energy efficiency, vinyl windows contain some of the best 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 have steel-reinforced interlocking window sashes to improve energy efficiency and provide added wind resistance.
- Design Flexibility
Vinyl windows bring a wide selection of options so you can choose a window that matches 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 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 required, non-abrasive cleaners will do the trick.
- Perceived Quality
Because of its inexpensive price compared to other material types, many might think vinyl windows are unable to stand the test of time. But durability is key 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 operated thousands of times to test durability on everything from the window hardware to the frame structure. After that, tests analyzing air, water and thermal conditions make sure that vinyl frames can defend against weather challenges while keeping your home pleasant. 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 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 created from advanced polymers that are performance-tested for top-of-the-line weathering and durability that keeps families safe and healthy.
Fiberglass windows present a stronger choice than vinyl windows, and don’t expand or contract when conducting heat and cold.
- Increased Energy Efficiency
Fiberglass windows can bring significant improvements in energy efficiency in contrast to vinyl windows. Pella’s Impervia fiberglass windows include energy-efficient options that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines throughout the country*. Adding the option of foam-insulated frames, Impervia can provide even stronger 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 design. As the name “fiberglass” indicates, glass has long been a part of fiberglass window frames. But recently engineered composites, including Pella’s Duracast® material, don’t rely on traditional glass particles, creating different coats of materials to establish even more strength.
- Color and Texture Options
From a variety of colors to finishes that create 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 include a resilient powder-coat finish that creates windows with a texture that has the appearance of real wood grain.
While they offer a more affordable 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 style of your home. But the increased level of curb appeal will helps if you’re looking to sell your home in the future.
- Not Quite Traditional
For some situations, only wood will fit. Even with improvements in finishing techniques and flexible color choices, fiberglass frames will likely not meet the needs of homeowners looking to show off a traditional or historic look in their home. Most notably when looking to match natural wood grain, fiberglass windows aren’t an ideal choice.
For those with older, more traditional homes, there’s no substitute for wood-framed windows. There are several reasons to choose frames made from wood.
- Classic and Contemporary Style
Genuine wood has a natural look and feel that is unmatched by any other type of material. From classic dark woods, like mahogany and maple, to lighter woods, including oak, pine and cherry wood, a palette of options can enhance the look of any home. It isn’t just 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 right now.
- A Natural Insulator
Wood frames help keep things comfortable in a home far better than almost any other type of window. That can help homes stay cozy in the winter and mild 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 defense against outside noise, as thicker wood will dampen more outdoor noise than other type of window frames.
Premium materials come with exceptional prices. Wood frames generally have a higher initial cost than vinyl or fiberglass frames. However, keep in mind properly maintained wood frames can last notably longer than most other windows. They also create a tremendous increase to home resale value. And for homeowners who need to match their home’s traditional look, 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 be certain that wooden replacement windows come treated before installation. All of Pella’s wood windows feature EnduraGuard® wood protection, an advanced formula that protects against the effects of moisture. EnduraGuard helps ensure enhanced protection from the impact from moisture, decay, termites, mold and mildew on every exterior wood surface of our frames.
Regardless of the material you select, replacement windows can help impact a home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal. Ready to start down the road to improved windows for your home? Stop by and visit the professionals at Pella of Memphis. They’ll help you find 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.