vinyl vs wood windowsQ: I’ve been struggling with a decision over my wood windows for several months now. Some of the windows won’t close all the way and I fear that there is lead paint behind the many layers of paint. Are vinyl windows truly more efficient than wood windows?

A: A great question! We get this one a lot especially as we live in New England and have older homes. Not only are homeowners afraid of lead paint, but it is certainly an arduous task to remove the lead paint by removing every window, stripping them down completely, re-glazing, re-priming, repainting, and then reinstalling. And some windows will need even more work than that to get them working properly again….arghh! *Sigh* For many homeowners it just seems like way too much work and is it worth it? The alternative would be to purchase new wood windows of course.

I am here to explain the reasons why wood windows are literally a thing of the past and why vinyl windows are way more energy efficient and you can get the look of wood and save money to boot! Read on!

Over the last two decades, wood windows dropped from accounting for almost half of all windows installed to about a quarter. Any idea what took wood window’s place? You guessed it…vinyl.

Why is this happening? A lot of this is due to the high maintenance requirements of wood, its inferiority when it comes to energy efficiency, and the availability of realistic woodgrain laminates. For many homeowners vinyl is now the #1 choice when it comes to windows. Let’s compare and contrast…

  1. Maintenance: Vinyl has low to no maintenance at all whereas with wood, you need to play the paint-scrape-paint battle every few years to look good and remain protected from New England weather. Vinyl replacement windows never need painting! Did you also know that if you don’t keep up with the maintenance of your wood window, it can void your warranty which is up to the manufacturer’s discretion?
  2. Color Options: This is an easy one! Who doesn’t want the beauty and look of wood without the hassle of maintaining it? Our New England vinyl windows retain their finish – for a lifetime! Vinyl windows no longer have the bad rep they used to have in the 1980 and 90s. There are beautiful, durable and realistic interior/exterior woodgrains available today and they come in a variety of colors. Some windows even color match (like ours at Coastal) and you can choose any exterior color in the Sherwin Williams catalog and get the factory finish warranty…awesome!
  3. Strength and Durability: Unlike vinyl, wood windows can pit, peel warp, or chip. 100% virgin vinyl windows are resistant to rot, corrosion, salt air, termites and air pollutants. Vinyl windows hold up to repeated use for a lifetime and maintain their beauty year after year. Unfortunately, you just can’t say the same for wood windows. Also, wood windows are mechanically fastened in the corners and with pressure over time, gaps will be created which in turn causes drafts and the window will break down quicker.
  4. Efficiency: R-Factor is the measure of transference of heat. The R-Factor for wood is around 1 per inch. The R-Factor for the vinyl windows we carry is 7 per inch. That is 7 x more energy efficient than wood. As long as you choose Energy Star replacement windows in Boston, vinyl window frames can cut air infiltration rates down to almost zero and, when used with advanced low-e coatings, can cut up to 40% off your heating and cooling bills.
  5. Cost Savings: Need another reason? Vinyl windows are roughly 30-50% less expensive than wood.
  6. Resale Value: 2016 Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report calculated that the vinyl windows can recoup 77.5% resale value compared to 72% for wood windows in New England.
  7. Security: According to the National Crime and Prevention Council, there is no area in your home that is more vulnerable to intrusion than windows and doors. We hear a lot of complaints from homeowners that their old wood windows have broken/missing locks and can’t close properly as wood warps over time.

Bottom Line: There is simply no comparison when it comes to wood vs. vinyl windows. Vinyl windows are definitely the smarter choice!

If you have questions on wood vs. vinyl windows or have other home improvement questions, please email me at or call 978-304-0495. I hope this week’s column was informative and helpful for you. I look forward to hearing from you!