Monthly Archives: March 2013

Wood Windows vs. Vinyl Windows: Pros and Cons

Wood windows, Fiberglass windows and Vinyl windows all serve the same basic functions of keeping the elements out, letting air in (when opened), and security.  The main difference is what they look like and what they cost. All three types are available in cheaper quality, less expensive versions, as well as higher quality, more expensive versions.

In general though, wood windows look better, have more options, but cost more.  In my home I chose to go with the Pella windows with built in blinds. With the built in blinds, I didn’t need to buy any window treatments, and I have the added benefit of being able to see the wood frames and large wood moldings that we used to frame them out on the inside. The windows, when stained, look like furniture. Another benefit of wood windows is that you can paint or stain each one to suit the individual room decor.

Daughter  & Marketing Manager +Kayla Kopke ‘s Room.  I used Pella Designer Series in designing my home.

Pella “Designer Series” windows have the most options and accessories compared to other manufacturers.  If you don’t want or need the accessories, other wood manufacturers can be considered, such as Andersen, Marvin, Weathershield, etc.

If the client seeks to minimize their expense and maximize the energy efficiency, vinyl is the way to go. Vinyl windows are available in many different prices, from very low, to mid high. It would be rare under normal circumstances for a vinyl window to cost more than a wood window of similar size and style.

There are basically 6 things to look for when shopping for windows:

1) The main frame – construction details – size – thickness – beefyness – does it look cheap, or does it look like good quality?

2) The glass system – it could be double glass, or triple glass, Low-E with Argon, laminated, tempered, etc.  Check U- values, R-values, Solar Heat Gain values.  The spacer used to separate the glass panels is very important – “Superspacer” is the best, but “Intercept” is the most widely used because of cost savings in manufacturing.

3) Locks, hardware, weatherstripping, screens, accessories – (all things that are attached to the windows) – aluminum screening is better than fiberglass – triple weatherstripping is better than double – recessed locks look better, some screen clips are cheap and will break off easy – you can usually tell the better quality components by visually inspecting the windows.  Some hidden items are balance systems on double hungs, weep holes, foam filled insulation, inner reinforcements, etc.

4) The warranty – be aware that most warranties if read closely are merely a list of what is not included – it is rare to get an unlimited warranty. They are a selling tool and really just a piece of paper.

5) The reputation of the manufacturer is more impotant than the warranty papers – ask yourself, if the company you hire to do the installation goes out of business, (a common occurance), what is the manufacturer going to do for you if you have a product problem?  The best manufacturers of the best quality products have the best reputation for service after the fact. On the other hand, the lowest priced products are going to come with little or no service down the road. Ask around, and it won’t be hard to find people who have an opinion about their good or bad experience with windows.

6) The reputation of the installation company – the basic truth is that you will be asking somebody to install the product of your choice – most companies specialize at installing certain brands. Hiring a company that has a business office is much less risky than hiring someone who works out of their home (an independent). Hiring an independent is often looked at as a “better deal” because the price is lower, but the extra risk is not worth the savings. We are asked to fix someone else’s “botched” job quite often. Often times the independent is not insured, licensed, or qualified to do the work properly, and they are usually impossible to contact for service issues.