Windows: Vinyl, Clad, or Wood?

August 6, 2021

Photo of Vinyl Window on Vinyl Siding home - Keyprime Inc Blog - Windows/ Vinyl, clad, or wood

These days, windows do more than just let light in on sunny days and protect from the elements. They also help to keep the heat in when it’s cold, keep the heat out when it’s hot, and improve the look and feel of your home.

So, what are the best windows when it comes to value, energy efficiency, and aesthetics? We’ll explore the pros and cons of three common options: vinyl, clad, and wood.

Background and benefit of vinyl windows

Vinyl windows have been around for 67 years, having first been manufactured in Germany due to wood shortages and the rising cost of aluminum following World War II. They were first introduced in the US 10 years later, in 1964, and really took hold during the energy crisis of the early 1970s, because they were more energy efficient than alternatives.

That energy efficiency continues to be a prime benefit of vinyl windows, as they have excellent insulating properties and minimize heat transfer, helping to keep homes at the optimal temperature. Energy efficiency adds to vinyl windows’ value, as Energy Star rated windows can lower energy bills by 12% annually on average.

They’re also easy to maintain, as no sanding or painting is ever needed. A simple cleaning on a regular basis will do the trick.

You won’t need to replace them frequently, either, as they can last 20 to 40 years, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. Of course, usage, weather, installation, maintenance, and quality of materials are all factors that affect the ultimate lifespan of the windows.

Downfalls of vinyl windows

There are wide variations in quality based on manufacturer, so it is important to research each brand and the warranties that they provide.

Some concerns that are worse in low-quality vinyl windows are sagging, softening, warping, and twisting, all of which are exacerbated by heat. Extreme weather conditions can also lead to discoloration.

While vinyl windows come in a variety of colors, it’s important to select a color you’ll be content with for a long time, as vinyl windows cannot be painted. In order to change color, they must be replaced.  Vinyl windows can be painted.  The paint wont last on vinyl as it would on wood.

When you consider that vinyl windows are more affordable than other styles – and add in energy savings, low maintenance, and longevity – it is obvious that vinyl is a solid choice. But, they’re not perfect, either, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons to determine if they’re the right fit for your situation.

Aluminum clad wood windows pros and cons

Just a few years after vinyl windows were introduced in the US in the ‘60s, various window brands began producing clad windows, consisting of vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass covering a wooden core. Vinyl clad windows are the most common.

Clad windows provide the best of both worlds: weather resistance on the outside, and the beauty of wood on the inside.

Clad windows have many of the same benefits as vinyl windows.

They are energy efficient, weather resistant, and require little maintenance.

In addition to being energy efficient, clad windows are also well insulated.

It is easy to match clad windows to the exterior of the home, as they come in many colors.

Window cladding can also prevent damage to window frames and wall structures.

For those concerned about the resale value of their homes, clad windows are a great choice, as they hold up well, can have a look similar to wood, and provide great return on investment.

All these benefits come with a higher price tag, which is the primary downfall of clad windows versus vinyl windows.

Cladding can also be susceptible to separation.

Why to consider wood

Wood windows have been around longer than any other type of window, and have many benefits.

Wood is an attractive material. While many efforts have been made to make other materials look natural, wood is the real deal. It provides a natural, warm finish that is second to none, especially for traditional homes. That look is customizable. Wood can be painted or stained to match other finishes or to provide a new look. This is a huge advantage over vinyl and clad windows.

Wood is a natural insulator that can help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Not only does wood insulate your home from cold and heat, but also from unwanted sounds.

Wood is a stable material, meaning it holds up well no matter the temperature. Quality wood windows can last a lifetime with proper maintenance.

The downsides to wood

Arguably the biggest knock on wood windows is the cost. They are more expensive than vinyl or clad windows, but can also last longer if cared for properly, which can make them a better value in the long run.

Wood windows also require more work. In order to keep them looking fresh, they must be kept clean. Over time, they’ll need to be painted or stained.

Painting or staining windows not only helps them stand up to humidity, but also wood’s worst enemy: insects, including termites.

Weighing the options

If initial cost is your main consideration, vinyl windows are probably your best bet.

If aesthetics are most important, wood windows will probably be your choice.

If you like the look of wood windows, but don’t want to do the work to maintain them, clad windows are a great option.

No matter what your final decision is, Keyprime is here to help guide your choices and expertly install your selection. Call 952-522-3593 for a free consultation.

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