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Vinyl vs Wood vs Aluminum Windows – What do I want?

Upgrading your windows is a good home investment. Your home will become more energy efficient and new windows will add value to your home if you’re planning to sell. Choosing windows for a newly manufactured home is an equally important decision. This is because windows are made of more than just glass. Once you’ve made the decision to upgrade or replace your old windows, you’ll need to choose which material you want them to be made from.  

For a long time, wood was the only option for home windows, and many older homes still rock this aesthetic. But if you’re looking to replace your windows, you now have more choices than ever. 

Your three main options are vinyl, wood and aluminum. Each material has different cost and efficiency advantages, so you need to decide which is right for your needs and your budget. Window replacements are never a cheap investment, so take a look at all your options before committing to one.  

Vinyl

Vinyl windows are an incredibly cost-effective choice. They are not only cheaper than any other window type but they are also incredibly easy to install. This simple installation process further drives down the cost of vinyl windows. Vinyl is almost always the material of choice for new starter homes and replacement windows on smaller homes. 

While vinyl is not quite as durable as wood, advancements in technology have made vinyl windows stronger than they ever have been before. Vinyl will not peel, crack or fade and does not require the same expensive treatments as wood. 

The main downside to vinyl windows is that they cannot be painted, so you are pretty much stuck with the original color you choose. This isn’t usually a problem for most people, but if you are prone to purely aesthetic home renovations, then you will want to choose your colors carefully so you’re not disappointed down the road. Vinyl windows will never require a new paint job as they don’t fade or peel. This painting issue will only come up if you want to change window colors. 

Advantages of vinyl

  • Low maintenance
  • Rot-resistant
  • Simple installation
  • Lower price point

Disadvantages of vinyl

  • Not as durable as wood
  • Cannot be painted
  • Limited color options

Aluminum and wood

Aluminum and wood window frames also have their advantages. Wood, for example, provides very strong insulation against cold and hot temperatures and is frequently favored by those in intense climates. Wood windows can also prevent condensation (with the proper amount of treatment). However, wood windows are by far the most expensive option, and much of that price is for the aesthetic that wood provides. 

Aluminum windows are usually a small step above vinyl windows in the price range, but they can hold up incredibly well against heat. Aluminum windows are very common in the south.

Aluminum windows give a less traditional look than wood or vinyl, and they are also prone to corrosion, dents and other damage. 

Composite materials

Your final option is to go for composite window materials. These windows are often confused for vinyl or wood windows at first glance, but they are typically made of fiberglass. Fiberglass windows combine many of the advantages of both vinyl and wood windows. They come with a high durability point similar to wooden windows while retaining the low maintenance and ease of vinyl windows. 

Composite windows typically run more expensive than vinyl windows but are not quite as expensive as wood. 

Making the right choice

Picking out new windows is about more than just price. You need to take into account your climate, your aesthetic desires, and also your budget. Vinyl windows are considered an all-around good choice as they balance durability with low cost and easy maintenance. However, specific details about weather in your area or other considerations may sway your decision. 

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