When it’s time to replace windows, you’ll need to consider window materials quite early in the process. Materials determine cost, versatility for fitting different window sizes, energy efficiency, longevity, durability, aesthetics, maintenance needs, and more, so it can be difficult to sort through the data on your options to find the right answer.
To make the process easier, we’ve compiled data on the most common window materials and why you might favor one over another as a homeowner.
Interested in direct advice on windows for your home? Contact Zen Windows Cleveland today to learn more about your options for materials, styles, and more!
Call (216) 430-0587 or contact us online to get started.
When looking at windows, there are three main materials worth considering — four if we separate low-quality and high-quality vinyl due to how differently they perform in a window. Aluminum is another possibility, but it has enough inherent flaws to rarely be a good option.
Pros: Wood windows are beautiful and traditional, and they can add elegance to your home.
Cons: Wood windows require extensive maintenance, change sizes with the weather making for poor energy efficiency, can suffer insect infestation and rot, and can cost more than physically superior materials.
Summary: Wood is beautiful, but it won’t stay that way without significant work and brings with it certain flaws that will cost you over your windows’ service life spans.
Pros: Fiberglass windows can look excellent to match their superior physical properties: resilience, longevity, good thermal properties, and versatility.
Cons: Fiberglass windows are costly, frequently have flaws in their seals at joints due to how they’re assembled, and can require painting to complete the aesthetic, adding maintenance.
Summary: Fiberglass windows are excellent, but the cost doesn’t necessarily buy you a superior material to high-end vinyl and can sometimes buy you a worse product due to the joint issue.
Pros: Low-end vinyl costs far less than any other window material, allowing you to replace your windows on a tight budget.
Cons: Poor-quality vinyl is prone to fading, has poor energy efficiency, and is susceptible to damage. It can also have fewer aesthetic options and look worse in general.
Summary: If you’re in a pinch, low-end vinyl might be your only option, but consider carefully, as you’ll almost certainly spend more over time in energy costs and early replacement.
Pros: A versatile material comparable to fiberglass in durability and longevity, with room for aesthetic variety, low maintenance requirements, and great seals for high energy efficiency. Typically still less expensive than fiberglass or wood windows despite high specs.
Cons: Vinyl windows without proper seal designs can waste their energy efficiency from expansion and contraction; substantially less than wood windows, but to a noticeable degree.
Summary: A well-designed vinyl window inarguably offers the best ROI you’ll get on replacement windows, with great aesthetic properties, utility, and durability. When shopping for windows, this should be your default preference.
Ultimately, the right windows for any home depend on the particular home, your preferences and goals, and your budget — but at Zen Windows, we strongly recommend looking first at your options for vinyl. After all, fiberglass is good but typically a poor value for the price, and wood has poor physical properties despite a high cost.
Contact Zen Windows today at (216) 430-0587 to learn more about buying the right windows for your home or if you’re ready to start designing new windows for your home near Cleveland.