Choosing Replacement Windows for Your Home: Vinyl vs. Wood

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Making the right window replacement choice for your home

Choosing replacement windows for your home begins with the style, size and features you seek. Today, windows come in a variety of styles: single hung, double hung, slider (2-lite or 3-lite), casement, awning, and more. There are almost countless options, including the window’s grilles (the bars that divide the glass into smaller panes), their thicknesses, and sometimes most importantly, materials. There are two common materials from which to choose – wood or vinyl – and while both have benefits, either could be selected based on your preferences and project criteria. Here are some things to consider when choosing between wood and vinyl replacement windows.

When choosing replacement windows (or installing new ones), ask yourself what you’re looking for from the windows. The answer might not be ‘what you had before,’ or ‘what’s upstairs or downstairs.’ Sometimes, if you’re remodeling your home in preparation for selling, you should look around the neighborhood and see what’s more popular: being the odd ball out might affect the home’s resale value. But overall, this decision has to be made in light of your preferences in regards to things like energy star ratings, durability, maintenance and (of course) aesthetic appeal. Learn more about each material, and keep these points in mind.

Choosing Vinyl Replacement Windows

Vinyl windows became widely available on the market during the 70’s and 80’s, but with limited sizes, styles and overall availability. Today vinyl windows are surpassing wooden frames in demand. Oftentimes, vinyl is considered more affordable than wood and are relatively easy to maintain. Vinyl comes in limited colors, however, as opposed to wooden frames which can be painted virtually any shade you choose. Consider some more hallmarks of vinyl window frames and see if they’re right for you.

        • Available in various patterns or grains to complement the interior/exterior of your home
        • Optimal thermal performance and efficiency
        • Don’t require painting or staining—what you see is what you get
        • Simple cleaning, low maintenance and easy to replace
        • They’re modern, perfect for contemporary homes
        • More affordable than wood

Choosing Wood Replacement Windows

Wooden frames make up some of the most beautiful windows to date. They’re the gold-standard; each piece of wood has a natural uniqueness that’s oftentimes unprecedented. These strong frames are natural insulators and can be made energy efficient through proper insulation and effective sealing. Wood windows are typically manufactured with an aluminum-clad or vinyl-clad exterior to protect the window from the elements. With proper care, they’ll last more than a lifetime. Contemplate these defining factors of wooden frames—and hot they’ll fit your home.

        • Wood interior can be painted or stained to match your home
        • The exteriors come in a variety of colors
        • Each frame has a unique, distinctive grain and pattern
        • Perfect for historic homes or rustic settings; they’re organically appealing
        • May add value for appraisals/home resale
        • More expensive than vinyl

Now What?

Whether you prefer colonial, modern or ranch-style homes and architecture; there’re wood or vinyl replacement window options available to match your tastes, budget and needs. For more information on choosing replacement windows, consult our previous posts: 5 conditions that affect condensation & 2 causes of temporary condensation, and 4 ways to detect heat loss from windows & doors this winter.