It’s funny to think of what we start caring about once we own homes. Before you entered into homeownership, you probably didn’t think twice about window materials. But now that you’re preparing for a window replacement in your home, the decision carries so much weight!
Should you go with wood? Vinyl? Fiberglass? Aluminum? 😰 The possibilities are endless, and with your money, resale value, and home aesthetics on the line, it turns out this really is a big decision!
Today, we’ll be breaking down the pros and cons of the two most popular window materials: wood and vinyl, to help you get closer to making a decision. Read to the end to see who comes out on top in the wood vs vinyl windows showdown!
✅ Pros of Wood Windows 🪵
Wood windows were once the primary choice across the board.
Most wood windows are made from:
- Douglas fir
Pine and Douglas fir are the most common because they grow quickly, but cedar and mahogany offer the highest-quality wood frames available. Let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of wood windows.
1) Timeless Aesthetics
Wooden windows really shine in the aesthetics category. They offer a beautiful, sophisticated, and timeless look and are especially well-suited to homes and properties with a classic or rustic interior design.
You can also customize wood windows because you can stain or paint them as you wish. You can also swap out the hardware if you’re feeling like you want gold hardware instead of silver and vice versa.
2) Longer Lifespan
If you want to get the longest life possible out of your windows, wood is the better option. Wood windows can last more than 30 years on average, especially if you keep up with regular maintenance. If you’re planning on staying in your home for a long time and don’t want to replace your windows again, wood could be a great choice.
More and more, homeowners are prioritizing environmental sustainability in their purchasing decisions. Wood windows are much more eco-friendly than people may think, with benefits that include:
- The wood manufacturing process is more eco-friendly than that of plastic materials
- Trees absorb carbon dioxide to balance out the manufacturing process
- There are many recycling options & uses after the end of their time as windows
4) Great at Insulating
Did you know that wood is lauded as one of the best window materials for insulation? As you may know, new windows have a significant impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Wood windows completely inhibit the transfer of heat and cold through the material, so your home will be more comfortable during extreme temperatures. Plus, your heating and cooling systems will thank you!
❌ Cons of Wood Windows 🪵
Even though wood windows have a lot of advantages, they also have their disadvantages. To get the full picture of wood windows, take a look at what some people would consider to be cons:
5) More Expensive
Across the board, wood windows are more expensive than vinyl windows. They’re more difficult to source and manufacture, and fewer companies produce them, so you can expect to pay up to twice the amount of vinyl windows.
6) Requires More Upkeep
If you enjoy home maintenance, the upkeep requirements of wood windows may not bother you. But if not, this is something to keep in mind. You’ll want to restain or repaint your wood windows every 3-4 years to prevent chipping.
7) Potential for Wood Rot
It’s no secret that wood materials are susceptible to rot. You’ll need to stay on top of all maintenance responsibilities to prevent your wood windows from developing rot or inviting pests.
8) More Complex Installation
Wood windows are heavier and require more specialized installation techniques, so the installation process is more expensive and time-intensive. It may be more difficult to find a qualified contractor in your area who can install wood windows.
✅ Pros of Vinyl Windows 🪟
Vinyl windows are growing in popularity, as most modern window replacements get performed with vinyl materials. Technically, vinyl windows are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride)— a lightweight and versatile material used in many applications. So what’s all the buzz about vinyl windows? Check out the pros below!
9) More Affordable
One of the most attractive things about vinyl windows is their price. They’re about half the price of wood windows, which makes them much more accessible to most homeowners. You can expect to pay between $150-$400 per vinyl window.
10) Modern Look
Vinyl windows offer a very sleek, clean, and modern appearance. They come in a wide range of colors to choose from. Just keep in mind that they don’t hold paint as well as wood windows, so the color you choose is the color they’ll be for their whole lifespan.
11) Won’t Rot
Vinyl windows have no chance of rotting! You won’t need to worry about pests nestling into vinyl materials.
12) Very Low Maintenance
In that same vein, vinyl windows require very little maintenance or upkeep. You won’t need to restain or repaint them ever. All you’ll need to do is clean them with multi-purpose spray or soapy water when they get dirty. Cracks and dents are rare.
13) Lighter Weight
Since vinyl windows are very lightweight, especially in comparison to wood, the installation process is quicker and easier. This also makes them a more accessible DIY project, although we recommend hiring a professional to handle a whole-home window replacement project.
❌ Cons of Vinyl Windows 🪟
To be honest, there aren’t many cons of vinyl windows. But in the spirit of fairness, take a look at these two disadvantages compared to wood windows.
14) Shorter Lifespan
Although vinyl windows can last 15-20 years, this is a shorter lifespan than their wood window counterparts. Typically, this lifespan is still long enough to make homeowners happy, but if you’re wanting to get as many years as possible out of your windows, you may opt for wood instead.
15) Not as Eco-Friendly
The biggest con of vinyl windows is their not-so-eco-friendly nature. The manufacturing process for vinyl windows is not great for the environment, and vinyl doesn’t come from a sustainable source. Thankfully, you can find specific facilities that will recycle vinyl windows and repurpose the PVC.
The Winner 🏆
Overall, vinyl windows win in cost, maintenance, and installation. But if classic aesthetics and eco-friendly products are the most important to you, then wood windows take the cake in those categories. Ultimately, most homeowners opt for vinyl windows when it’s time for a window replacement.
Want to talk to an expert about your window options? Or, feel ready to get the ball rolling on your window project? Reach out to Shingle and Metal Roofs, Ohio’s #1 home improvement contractor, to get started!