Vinyl windows or wood windows? In the wise words of Parks and Recreation’s Andy Dwyer, “Windows are the eyes to the house.” So let’s get this right...
If you need further convincing as to why windows are such a vital component of your home, check out our Top 9 Reasons to Replace Your Windows. Our homeowners often ask whether they should install wood or vinyl windows, and what the differences are between these options.
We’ve laid out some key pros and cons as a starting point.
Vinyl windows are often at a lower price point than wood windows so it’s easy to think they’re lower quality because of this. It's a common misconception so let's stick to the facts. The first thing to know is that vinyl windows are made out of PVC, which a plastic material, and were first developed in the 1970s as a more affordable alternative to wood windows.
Since the 70s, vinyl windows have become increasingly popular among homeowners as the quality and technology in manufacturing them has improved. As of 2012, vinyl windows held a 68% market share in the U.S. residential window market.
Affordable: Vinyl windows cost significantly less than comparable wood windows. Some vinyl window options cost less than half of many wood window options. A good example of this is the Harvey Tribute vinyl window and the Pella Architect wood window. Though not an exact apples-to-apples comparison, it’s good to know as a level-set.
Energy efficient: Despite somewhat widely held misconceptions, vinyl windows are significantly more energy efficient than wood. They can come triple pane with u-values as low as .17 where as wood can only come with a u-value of .27. This is a result of the way vinyl windows have multiple air chambers built into the frame and sash as well as the ability to accommodate the wider triple pane glass configuration option.
Low-maintenance: Unlike wood windows, vinyl windows rarely require scraping, painting, or much maintenance. Vinyl frames are extremely easy to clean, usually only requiring an occasional cleaning with soap and water.
Durability: Most vinyl windows typically last 20 years or more while wood windows are shorter lived and have shorter warranties as a result. Wood is a natural product and, despite being protected by a vinyl, composite or aluminum exterior, it is much more prone to warping, damage, and rot.
Appearance: Renoviso's vinyl windows come in up to 28 exterior colors, which is great! If you're planning to paint the interior frame of your windows then vinyl is a great, cost-effective alternative to wood. Our windows come painted on the interior with all the same exterior colors if requested but if you absolutely need or want that stained, natural look of wood, then vinyl may not be for you.
Wood windows are considered a classic window material choice by many contractors and homeowners due to their durability, energy efficiency, and beautiful, customizable appearance. For historic or rustic homes in particular, the warm and organic appeal of wood windows can be an especially great fit and worthy of the investment. Wood windows are also a desirable feature to potential homeowners and can add to resale value and curb appeal.
Appearance: Wood windows are aesthetically pleasing and highly customizable, allowing you to tailor your new windows precisely to your home. On the interior side, wood windows can have their natural wood color or be painted or stained. Most wood windows have exterior cladding systems that are either vinyl- or aluminum-based composites which provide increased durability and protection from the elements without compromising on beauty.
Energy efficient: All the wood windows installed by Renoviso are Energy Star Certified but vinyl windows usually have a slight edge in terms of energy efficiency, as mentioned above.
Durability: Most wood window manufacturers offer cladding systems which are composite exteriors. This essentially means they're covered with materials such as extruded aluminum, PVC, or fiberglass to help prevent weather damage and increase the longevity of wood windows even further. Renoviso installs the Andersen 400 Series window which has a vinyl-based exterior cladding, and the Pella Architect window and the Harvey Majesty window which have an aluminum-based exterior.
Maintenance: Older wood windows often are not cladded so their exteriors need re-painting or re-staining every few years. The interior of wood windows can also require touch-up and painting as wear and tear compiles through the years. Wood is more porous than vinyl, meaning that grime and dirt can more easily be trapped. So expect semi-frequent cleaning and monitoring.
Cost: While wood windows are a beautiful and long-lasting option that can add value to your home, they are significantly more costly than vinyl windows. You can see the price difference for yourself right on our site: vinyl double hung window prices here and wood double hung window prices here.
The Bottom Line
Vinyl windows vs wood windows is a question that many homeowners need to answer. Which window type is best for your home ultimately depends on your priorities. A well-constructed, custom-made vinyl window is a great option for the budget-conscious renovator who wants exceptional energy efficiency without compromising on quality.
Wood windows offer homeowners increased durability and customization options usually at a higher price. You can design your wood window and see an installed price directly on Renoviso’s website as well. Both vinyl and wood windows offer substantial energy efficiency improvements over older windows, and are available in a wide range of styles.
To start exploring the perfect balance between aesthetics, durability, efficiency, and cost, customize a window on Renoviso’s windows page or call us to talk with a Project Consultant at 617-848-9610. You'll have your installed price in 5 minutes by phone or directly on our site.