Homeowners with discerning eyes and tastes often ask about which window material is better, vinyl or wood? That bears some looking into deeper, check out this whole rundown on which to choose.

Vinyl windows are typically made with a good grade of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. PVC is a petroleum-based product. It’s basically the same rigid material you see in home improvement stores that’s used for plumbing pipes and underground sprinkler systems. If you’ve ever made a potato cannon, same stuff. 

Vinyl vs real wood windows

For the most part, PVC is used for the bulkier components such as the frame.  Other plastics or metals are often used for the actual sash mechanics. Usually because they have better anti friction qualities and better durability. 

Vinyl Window Treatments

People like PVC because it is highly durable. It withstands the elements relatively well especially when compared to wooden windows. It holds up better in extreme heat, cold, and humidity. And it won’t warp over time like wood. This is especially nice because it means you are never going to have to re-glaze the panes of glass.

There is virtually no maintenance involved with vinyl windows vs wood windows. You might have to occasionally dust or clean the sliding track areas and apply some

graphite, especially if you live in the desert southwest where wind and blowing dust are common or in a really damp, muggy and buggy climate.

Vinyl window units are typically white in color and manufacturers currently appear to want to keep it that way. Mainly because so far they have not found a superior way to guard against other colors fading significantly. Also, the lack of color selection simplifies the manufacturing process and keeps the amount of inventory that must be carried in stock much lower. If they had to have a variety of colors on hand, it would require more space for storage and larger warehouse facilities. Both, of course, would drive up the cost of doing business. Nonetheless, we are seeing more color selections beginning to emerge.

Now, the maintenance free aspect of easy to install vinyl windows is nice, but those same attributes mean paint won’t adhere well either. What that means to you is if you want to paint on a custom color, you can pretty much forget about it. You will struggle to get it to stick and if you do, it will weather off quite quickly.

On the open market, vinyl windows are easily priced 20-30% cheaper than wood.

Wooden windows

When it comes to maintaining historical relevance, nothing surpasses real wood except in energy efficiency. Can you imagine a “Washington slept here” home with vinyl windows? Not hardly. But in truth most of us, in fact almost all of us, are not concerned about maintaining a historical footprint for the home we moved into.

Wood window treatments

Anyway, wooden windows are of course made from wood, most often fir, pine, and sometimes oak. Although more esoteric varieties might be chosen for appearances or superior bragging rights. A huge challenge for the dwindling number of wooden window manufacturers today is the soaring cost of the raw wood itself. That means wooden windows are going to cost more.

Now sometimes wooden windows much like wooden floors are solid wood with only metal or synthetic mechanisms, but beware. Some are in fact wooden facades or laminates placed over metal, fiberglass, or plastic interiors. Watch for this technique with imports and be sure you’re not being charged full price for solid wood and being sold a stepped down product.

While wood lacks the durability and maintenance of PVC and high performance vinyl windows, there are some nice things about it. When it comes to selecting your color, you have the universe as a palette. You can paint or stain wood to any color you desire. When stained, the appearance of grain and texture of wood is highly appealing to some. They feel it adds elegance and speaks of wealth.

Wood is a pretty good insulator. You will find that wooden windows never seem as cold or hot to the touch as vinyl ones in the same climate do.

Remember there is no “weatherproof” in wood. You are going to have to invest a lot more to maintain it as opposed to vinyl. It will require repainting. Be prepared to strip, brush, or sand old paint off and apply new coats. This is a painful process, especially when you have small paned windows. Because wood shrinks, warps, and weather over time, at some point you are most likely going to have to reseal the panes of glass. It is best to have this done by a professional. Because of these maintenance issues, in general when all else is equal, you can expect homes with wooden windows to price slightly lower than those with vinyl. Of course luxury housing may prove to be an exception.

Are politics a question?

Both products, of course, have environmental implications that can be politicized. That may be concerning to you. 

Vinyl is a petroleum product. So those concerned about using non-renewable resources and holding anti-oil sentiments may be conflicted or weigh in. There might be a

disconnect between driving an electronic vehicle and overlooking a lifestyle that does not minimize petroleum use in other possible areas.

When it comes to wood, there are issues as well. Some wood is imported from slash and burn foreign nations that plunder natural forests. Naturalists want to preserve pristine nature. Whether the wood comes from tree farms or harvesting off government lands, certain conservationists find it reprehensible to carve roads that disrupt vegetation and wildlife. There is talk of wood harvesting causing erosion, desert encroachment, and depletion in bees.

 Here’s an easy grid to help you decide

Consider, below, what matters most to you.

Window purchasing chart

Want to know more about whether vinyl or wood is better?

Learn everything you could want to know about which is better, vinyl or wooden windows. And you know what? You can ask the same question about doors! Which is better: a vinyl, metal, or wooden door? Ask the experts at Sol-Up Windows and Doors. They’ll even come to your house for a FREE no obligation consultation. Contact Sol-Up Windows and Doors today. (702)-673-6890


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