In our last few posts, we focused on ways to give your windows a little TLC before the harsh winter weather is in full swing. But maybe your windows need a little more protection from the elements than weather stripping, insulation films, and silicone sealants can provide. If you’re beginning to think window replacement is the best choice for your home, we are here to guide you through the process, step-by-step.

Navigating Home Window Replacement: Wood Vs. Vinyl

It’s easy to overwhelm yourself with options when first getting started on your home window replacement project. After all, there are so many options out there, and more websites than one could count devoted to showing you exactly how beautiful and stylish your home could be if you just make the right choice.

Instead of being paralyzed by the choices, we suggest starting with one simple decision: vinyl or wood. This decision is fundamental to the process as it will help you toward making additional choices related to aesthetics, budget, and architecture.

Cost

While we know most homeowners would love to prize other factors over cost, we know that practically speaking, cost often matters most to home improvement decisions. Put simply, wood windows are generally the costliest option. Vinyl windows are going to be more budget-friendly in just about every case, with the exception of custom designs.

Maintenance

Maintenance is another one of the most important considerations when deciding between wood or vinyl windows. Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free; they never need to be painted or sealed, and they only require the regular cleaning you would perform on any windows in your home. You can use pretty much any all-purpose spray or dish soap solution to clean your vinyl windows.

Wood windows, on the other hand, require more attention. The exterior portions of the windows will need regular painting and sealing, both to keep them looking beautiful and to protect the integrity of the wood. Left not cared for, the wood will warp and rot over time. The interior sashes require less maintenance, but should be regularly stained.

Because window replacement is, for most homeowners, a once-in-a-lifetime investment, be sure to carefully weigh how much maintenance you are comfortable with when making a decision about which material you will select.

Style

In addition to maintenance, you will also have to live with the look of your windows for quite a long time. Consider the architecture and aesthetics of both your home and your neighborhood.  The look of genuine wood grain is one many homeowners find they cannot live without, and if you live in a historic home or neighborhood, you probably shouldn’t anyway.

Vinyl is a great choice for newer homes, even if you embrace a traditional aesthetic. Innovations in design have led to vinyl frames which are much sleeker and more pleasing to the eye than they have ever been before. The folks at This Old House offer a practical shopping tip relevant to both aesthetics and function for those interested in vinyl frames: “When shopping, look for a uniform color throughout the frame. Also look for joints that are heat-welded rather than joined with screws or other fasteners.”

Think over your options, and join us next time for more advice on navigating your home window replacement project.