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Wood Windows or Vinyl Windows? What Should You Choose?

Intro:

  • I want to procure the best window for my home but I just don’t know what to select!
  • Is it better to get wood windows or Vinyl windows designs?
  • Which one offers the best advantages?
  • How does one pick?
  • What type of frame design should I go for?

If you find yourself clueless and desperately needing help choosing, don’t worry-you’re not alone. 

Nowadays, window shopping can be quite the struggle.

Being faced with an abundance of options, countless shameless vendors, and one’s own personal requirements, it’s ridiculously tempting to abandon the whole “searching for the ideal fit”. 

In fact, you might get to the point where you're considering just buying at random to get it over with. I mean, they can’t be THAT different - right?

Well, unless you want an undesirable result, it’s best to get what you KNOW will suit your needs and schedule.

What are they?

Before diving into the history, advantages, costs, and features, it would most likely be beneficial if you, the lector, first comprehend what a vinyl window actually is.

The majority of modern-day windows possess several components, even more so when they are operable, that make up their structure.

The two main and most worldly recognized window parts, however, are the window panes and the frames that hold the glass in place.

So what does this have to do with the original question at hand? Fear not, you’ll understand soon enough.

What Are Vinyl Windows?

If you work in construction or engineering, you are probably already familiar with the term vinyl. 

If not, you may or may not be thinking to yourself;

“What is there to know?” “Aren’t the terms used to classify the windows of different styles?”  

In this case, it may benefit you to read the following description. 

When manufacturers bring up a discussion about vinyl or wood windows, they are referring to the material of the frames utilized. 

A little confusing? What sort of material is called Vinyl? To reinforce your knowledge, going through some of the general details may help. 

Simply put, the word “Vinyl” is the common title granted to an advanced polymer in chemistry; the polymer being Poly-Vinyl Chloride or PVC for short. 

PVC is used to make up a large variety of things both domestic and industrial; ranging from pipes and window curtains to toys and fashionable outfits. 

Without even realizing it, there are high chances that PVC is used all around you in your everyday life. After all, this polymer is the third most used one on the planet. 

Poly-Vinyl Chloride is a product of the chemical combination between two or more small molecules turning into a bigger one. In its purest form, prior to being processed into something more flexible, this substance is what you would describe being a “rigid and lightweight” plastic. 

The pure, sturdy form of this element finds its use in building things like pipes, wires and window frames. 

Since PVC is a thermoplastic resin (meaning it’s a plastic that can be re-softened) it tends to come already prepared as a pelletized (shaped into pellets/powder) material with other additives blended into the mix.

This powdery form performing well with various mixtures allows different companies to fabricate their own unique frames by adding in other matter and creating original formulas. For the reason, as you read along it is important to keep in mind that vinyl windows from one to the next aren’t always created equal.

History of Vinyl

In this day and age, Vinyl is, without a doubt, one of the most popular window types purchased around the world. 

All it took was one inventor and what was once a non-existent idea catapulted into something constructors cannot NOT know now. A totally new revolution happening within a short span of 64 years (That’s the age of most parents nowadays!). 

Knowing the history of and is not of utmost importance, but it does have the power to inform homeowners about its general purpose and situations it was created to benefit.

These polymer windows were first brought up in 1954 in Germany during the period of recovery from World war II. They caught much attention from civilians seeing as they presented an alternative and solution to the high aluminum costs and wood shortage problems occurring worldwide.

Experiencing such positive feedback and an increase in demand, the following decade Vinyl frame merchandise companies finally made the call to expand their target audience to the United States of America. 

Being a relatively newer technology, it took a couple of years to be recognized, but as the saying goes “Hard work puts you where good luck finds you.”

PVC windows have much to offer for an affordable price, and one of the greatest being energy efficiency. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s when more and more people began appreciating this attributes and all the other qualities of this invention. 

A good, well-needed product truly never fails to launch itself into fame.

Wood Windows

If a homeowner is looking for something to add value or character to his or her house without much care for cost savings, wood windows would be a great and viable option. 

Windows with wooden frames are usually bought due their stylish and rustic appearance. When stained and carved out, they can seriously bring any dull, drab room to life. 

As wood windows are well…. made out of wood…. one might not think there is much to know about them and what a company can provide - boy are they wrong. 

Isn’t all wood the same in this case? Not exactly. 

Wooden frames generally fall under two major categories.

The ones made out of softwood and the others made of hardwood. 

The former is made from evergreen trees that can be seen green and covered in needle-like leaves all year round. Think most conifer trees like pine, blue spruce, and castor, as well as angiosperms from regions without frost, like eucalypts and rainforest trees. 

The latter is often produced from deciduous trees and those with that shed their broad leaves in the winter. Think oak, cherry, and mahogany trees. 

The choice of wood can greatly impact the final result, so make sure to choose the right one. 

Don’t know? Don’t worry. 

Some of their pros and cons will be listed later to help you make the correct decision.

Advantages Of Vinyl

** Please remember that each company has differing formulas resulting in different attributes from one vinyl window to the next. This is just the general details. ** 

  • High Resistance

    - These architectural creations are much less susceptible to environmental factors compared to wood. Depending on the quality and the builder, vinyl of higher caliber provides much greater protection against tearing, scratches, rot, corrosion, warping etc. 
  • Easy installation

    - Made for quick replacements and easy handling, vinyl windows are quite possibly one of the least demanding when it comes to manual labour. 
  • Low Maintenance

    - Vinyl windows don’t need to be touched up since they are already delivered finished. 
  • Good Insulation

    This polymer’s multi-chambered models are strong competitors against other products when it comes to thermal performance. Based on observations, it insulates almost as well as wood if not arguably better since it does not tear in the long-run. It is a greatly appreciated feature saving homeowners from expensive utility bills. 
  • Recyclable

    Looking to save the environment? Vinyl might be a good option. Unlike wood that is obtained through deforestation, vinyl is recyclable and is reused by Buy-back companies to create new windows. 
  • Budget-Friendly

    - It come should come as no surprise that windows made of mass-produced PVC are cheaper than those of wood. For more in depth price comparisons read a little further. 
  • Non-Flammable

    - If you live in a place where wildfires are common or often handle fires, Vinyl windows would be a great choice considering that they are non-flammable and won’t catch or spread a fire accidentally.

Disadvantages Of Vinyl

  • Environment Impact

    - The manufacturing processes involved when companies create new versions involves quite a few chemicals and is in no way natural. Yes vinyl windows are recyclable, but that doesn’t mean the process is cheap and that the final result is high quality. Sadly, curbing the impact sustained remains quite difficult when one doesn’t want to compromise the standard.
  • Melting Possibility

    - Vinyl is not flammable but it can melt under extreme heat similar to any other plastic.
  • Non-Paintable

    - When searching for PVC windows on the market, expect seeing many in the white to tan range. Being drab and dull makes many consider coating them with a fresh pop of color, but sadly, these thoughts are quickly crushed. Vinyl material cannot be stained or painted.

    Additionally, those which are made in deeper colors (that do not fade) are considerably more difficult to create for manufacturers. Due to this, if you absolutely need color and really like the idea of vinyl, anticipate a little splurging to be made.

  • Vulnerability

    - Vinyl can discolour under extreme weather conditions and will need to be replaced since it cannot be painted over.

Advantages Of Wood

  • Very Nice Appeal

    - Showcasing smooth natural patterns ingrained on the surface, one of the major advantages of this element is the classic and traditional appearance it exhibits. You will often see wood used in homes or hotels aiming for a luxurious and/or elegant style.
  • Durability

    - If properly sealed, modern wood windows don’t actually crack and are extremely durable, capable of withstanding great impact for long periods of time.
  • Long Lifespan

    - Wood has the benefit of lasting much longer than almost any other material. Although pricey at the start, the investment makes up in the long run since replacing old wood windows is not needed to be done as often compared to constructions of other substances. It is possible to see fine wooden frames and windows and doors used for over 100s of years still in top quality condition. In fact, many clients have even made the comment that a wooden mount looks better as they age; similar to fine wine.
  • Excellent Insulation

    - Wood is possibly one of the greatest defenses against outside cold and hot temperatures. Providing warmth in winter and a refreshing chill in summer. This quality greatly reduces utility bills and can accumulate into serious cash savings as time goes on.
  • Paintable

    - Unlike PVC designs, timber varieties can and need to be painted/oiled every so often (perhaps every 3-7 years). This may or not be a pain for some but on the bright side, you have the liberty of matching with the interior home decor. Of course, if you adore the unique, authentic grainy look it provides on its own, simply sand it down and go over with some transparent oil/paint to lock in moisture between the fibers.
  • Increases Home Value

    - Vintage wood windows are highly sought out by buyers due to their beauty that upps the sales value of homes. The majority of the initial price for wood windows has great chances of being recouped along the line.
  • Small coefficient of expansion

    - If properly maintained, you’ll notice that timber expands and contracts a lot less than other material during temperature fluctuations. This property is essential to protect from sealing failure in the window design and air-leaks.

Disadvantages Of Wood

  • High Maintenance

    - On one hand, timber has the capacity to thrive for ages, but on the other, it can be at risk of rapid deterioration when not properly taken care of.

    Over a lengthy period of time, dirt, moisture, soot, and possibly mold, begin to accumulate.

    Now, since these undesirable bacteria are not Ph-Neutral, natural wood will begin to rot if it is not coated and insulated properly. For this reason, once or twice every couple of years, ligneous assets necessitate re-staining, thus making it higher maintenance. Please bear in mind, that the climate in which you live may result in less or more (especially in humid environments) required maintenance.

  • Costly

    - In the initial stages, thanks to deforestation and fewer companies producing lumber sets, these classic pieces are definitely more expensive to install. (Custom made wood windows and certain wood replacement windows online being even more so…) Yes, they can make up for the price difference along the line, but if a homeowner is on a severely restricted budget, starter prices may become a deal-breaker.
  • Highly Flammable

    - As the cycle goes; Earth rules lightning, lightning dominates water, water extinguishes fire, and fire destroys earth. It is no surprise that lumber is therefore flammable since it is a terrible conductor of heat and should be kept away from areas dealing with hot tools.
  • Insects

    - Insects are quite a concern amongst customers with wood, especially termites. Now this is not an unfounded fear, since it is a real risk if you don’t properly manage the material. Don’t let this scare you though, since the chance of attracting insects should be warded off with a good coat of paint.

Varieties of Timber

Choosing the right wood before perhaps finding out how to install wood windows really makes or breaks the final result. Choose correctly by using this list as an informative guide.

Jarrah -

  • Colour:
    • Reddish Brown as it ages
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Termite-resistant
    • Water & Rot-Resistant
    • Becomes Extremely Durable with ageing
    • Lasts longer than many other wood types

Walnut-

  • Colour(s):
    • Milky white
    • Chocolate Brown
    • Brown w/ Purple Tones
    • Dull Brown
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Dense and Extremely Durable
    • Readily Absorbs polishes/paint
    • Easily Paintable
    • Extremely Versatile

Notes: Make sure to add water-resistant coatings to prevent the deterioration of the lumber.

Maple-

  • Colour(s):
    • Warm Soft Maple w/Dark Stripes
    • Patterned (Tiger stripes, swirly eyes, ripples …)
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Original Style
    • Dense & Strong
    • Smooth Texture
    • Long-lasting

Notes: Can be very brittle, use indoors to prevent often replacement needs.

Oak-

  • Colour(s):
    • Red
    • White
    • Brown ...
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Waterproof
    • Insect & Fungus- Resistant

Notes: Different types of oaks have different qualities, please do more research and talk with the Wood window manufacturers before coming to a decision.

Mahogany-

  • Colour(s):
    • Red-brown
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Extremely Durable
    • Rot-resistant
    • Accepts paint easily

Notes: Make sure you pick authentic mahogany and check for labels!

Cherry-

  • Colour(s) :
    • Warm Soft Maple w/Dark Stripes
    • Patterned (Tiger stripes, swirly eyes, ripples …)
  • Positive Qualities:
    • Positive Qualities:
    • Dense & Strong
    • Smooth Texture
    • Long-lasting

Price comparison

Going by the data provided from the 2018 Cost Vs. Value Report, vinyl windows are definitely the better budget-friendly choice.

Recouping 74.3% of your initial investment (4.8% more than wood) with the initial installation costing wallets an approximately $3,436 LESS than the average wood window frame cost. This is not necessarily including anything like wood window treatments or vinyl window grids.

It’s clear as day, that PVC wins when it comes to counting the greater deal in this department.

Hard Window Treatments

You might have noticed the addition of the adjective “hard” before window treatments. The reason for this has to do with the fact that there are three categories of window treatments;

Soft Window Treatments:

Treatments that involve the usage of delicate and soft materials (Curtains, valances, roman shades, drapes etc.)

Hard Window treatments-

Treatments (like shades, blinds, shutters.) fabricated out of tough material such as the trendy Vinyl for windows design (fitting for this article)

Layered Window Treatments:

The combination of both hard and soft components.

In this article talking about wood and vinyl, we will be focusing on the most fitting- hard window treatments.

Types To Think About

  • Blinds

    - Blinds are convenient, provide security, add aesthetics, adjust the amount of sunlight in the room, thanks to the louvers/slats that tilt open and closed.
  • Shutters

    - Shutters are long-term, more expensive, window coverings good for both the interior and exterior of buildings. This treatment installation is designed with louvered or fixed slots attached to hinges and can be stationary or operable. This additionally layer is utilized on the daily to; control sunlight, supply privacy, add aesthetics, provide security, defend against environmental factors etc.
  • Shades

    - Shades are basically single pieces of elongated fabric that can fold, roll up, and stack. One must roll them up to view the outside scenery.

These three could be said to be the major hard window treatments, with the other being combinations.

Divided Window Frame Styles

Now, shopping for window frame material is one thing, but knowing the design is equally important. Thus, to save you from another google search, after choosing wood or vinyl, the various appearances of frames are listed below for further narrowing your search.

Divided Windows

Divided window frames are sectioned off with small glass pieces in between. This genre is great for people who enjoy a traditional or classical look to window panes. Excluding authentic, divided windows have several options to choose from. This being said, they are not recommended for residents looking to enjoy an unimpeded view of the outside or easy cleaning. In this case, simply opt for open pane windows.

Attached Grids

Attached grids have dividers glued onto the surface of a full pane of glass. In comparison to authentic dividers, this option is a lot more budget-friendly yet still provides that sought-out divided look.

Faux Grids

Faux grids blend in with the frame and are usually placed in front of the windows without touching the glass. They don’t provide a persuasive divided look but have the advantage of easy cleaning behind the separators.

Conclusion

So in the end which is best? Wood or vinyl windows? Are Vinyl replacement windows truly better? Being honest here, there really is no better one here. If it matches up to your standards and you don’t mind wood windows cost or needed maintenance, go ahead and opt for wood. If your budget is tight and you have limited time, vinyl may be better for your household. Sad that there’s no definitive answer, but the truth must be said. Compare each of their qualities and see what fits your needs before picking.

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