Composite vs. Wood Windows

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Composite vs. Wood Windows

If you are considering composite vs. wood windows, here are four areas to compare and contrast these two very different window materials in order to better understand the pros and cons of each. Composite windows are a bit of a mixed bag due to the variety of material mixes that manufacturers use. See how they stack up in terms of strength, aesthetics, energy efficiency, as well as cost and value.

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From a durability standpoint, composites might get the nod, especially on top end models such as the Okna Starmark. However, at the lower price points, a well made wood clad will offer plenty of durability and strength.


Composite windows are generally speaking nice looking, again especially the better made models. The same could probably be said for wood window, but typically wood windows are going to be much nicer looking than composite windows. Andersen makes a 100 Series that is quite nice looking and comes in lots of interior and exterior options. Three of the nicest looking wood windows include the Marvin Ultimate Series, Kolbe and Loewen wood windows.

Energy Efficiency

Well made composite windows should offer comparable to slightly better energy efficiency numbers than wood clad. Over time, entry level to mid range wood windows can become much less effient, especially if exposure to the outside elements affects the design of the frame. Most well made wood windows use an aluminum or fiberglass cladding on the outside, which protects the window from the outside elements, while still providing the beauty of real wood for the homeowner.

Costs & Value

Both composites and wood clad windows can be expensive, but wood windows always top the list in terms of price. High end Pella windows can run $1400 per window installed with glass and other upgrades. The most expensive composite window is the Renewal By Andersen, which is a fibrex composite made by Andersen and sold through these franchises. Don't be surprised if the per window installed cost is $1200 + for an RBA window.

Bottom Line

The bottom line on composites is that there is no consensus, the material, cost and quality varies too much from manufacturer to manufacturer (see our best composite windows page to see the brands and models that we like and get a price range for each one). Wood windows are more of a known quantity - expensive and beautiful, they are a luxury that require some maintenance, but are truly a stunning addition to any home.

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