Vinyl vs Wood Windows
If you are deciding between vinyl vs. wood windows here are four factors to take into consideration in order to determine which is a better option for your home. For most homeowners, a decent mid range vinyl window that will last 20 to 25 years is a solid option. For homeowners who love the look of wood and don't have an issue paying $750 per window installed, then wood clad is a beautiful and high quality option.
Vinyl and wood windows are both strong, in fact there isn't much difference between the two in this category. Both are considered mid range (aluminum frames are the strongest), but bear in mind a low end vinyl window will be less strong over time than most wood windows. To compare the two, it's good to know that a low end wood clad window will still be stronger than a low end vinyl window, but a top of the line vinyl window will be stronger than a top of the line wood clad window, due to the welds that are used (wood clad frames don't have welds).
Vinyl and wood windows both come in a selection of styles and grades. Top grade vinyl windows will never look as beautiful as the top grade wood options once installed, but the price reflects this, with wood clad windows being considerably more than vinyl. Many vinyl manufacturers offer a wood grain technology or veneer, making the vinyl's look like wood. It's often difficult to see the difference, unless you inspect them closely. Wood clad windows require regular maintenance and staining to protect them over time. Vinyl windows, on the other hand, require very little maintenance, but certainly are no match for a nice looking wood clad.
If you are looking for good energy efficiency, you can't really go wrong with wood or vinyl, they both offer natural insulation. Wood is versatile, visually appealing and offers good insulation properties. While vinyl is still new in terms of windows, they also offer solid energy efficiency. A high end vinyl window will be more energy efficient than the higher end wood window. Conversely, if you choose low end vinyl windows, you may find they aren't as energy efficient as the lower end wood clad windows. It's important you get the performance numbers of the windows you are considering. The numbers should include the AI, SHGC, DP and U-Value. These numbers offer a way of comparing energy efficiency of windows on both vinyl and wood clad options.
Cost & Value
Wood clad are the most visually appealing, but they are also the most expensive - consumers will pay anywhere from $400 to $1,200 for each installed wood clad window. A nice mid range wood clad will run $700 installed. Vinyl, while not the most visually appealing, range in price from $200 to $750 for each installed window. A nice mid range vinyl frame will run $425 installed.
When it comes to deciding b/n vinyl vs. wood windows, price and aesthetics are going to be the biggest issues to look at. Wood clad is beautiful but expensive, vinyl is ordinary looking and affordable. If you can't make up your mind, our advise would be to go with vinyl and save yourself the money. For more sample prices on these different materials, try our windows cost calculator.
Wood Windows vs Vinyl
My husband and I are looking into replacing all the windows in our home (about 25 total). I have contacted Pella and they are coming this week to provide a quote. Anderson is also in my area but I haven't contacted them. We are in the East TN area. Would you please provide a few recommendations of companies who install quality vinyl windows? Obviously, all their websites and brochures say each is great. Any landmines/pointers you have would also be greatly appreciated.
[Site Editor's Answer]
Teresa, I always start out by at least recommending that consumers look at vinyl -- or at least understand the downsides of wood clad windows like Pella and Andersen. Wood windows are undoubtedly beautiful, but they are very expensive, require staining or painting every 5 to 10 years, do not offer as good energy efficiency numbers, and carry a 10 to 20 year warranty. Vinyl windows are not nearly as attractive, but they are quite a bit cheaper, require no maintenance, can be very energy efficient, and usually come with a limited lifetime warranty.