Ancient Rome featured some of the earliest windows with wooden frames, and solid wood windows continue to be a popular choice for homeowners today, particularly those looking to replace windows in historic homes.

Fiberglass, a more recent invention, emerged in the early 20th century and has become an increasingly popular window frame option due to its durability, energy efficiency, and its ability to closely resemble wood.

Wood vs Fiberglass Windows: Making the Decision

Choosing between wood and fiberglass windows can be challenging, as homeowners need to consider factors such as aesthetics, architectural style, cost, and availability of materials. Here’s a quick breakdown of each material:

Fiberglass, a composite material consisting of glass fibers and plastic, is created through a process called pultrusion. This process allows fiberglass to be cut or molded into the desired shapes and textures for window frames.

Solid wood windows, made from real wood, have been around for centuries. Despite more automation in the production process, many wood windows still feature handmade details and can be custom designed to fit almost any sized or shaped opening.

Clad wood windows, made of wood covered in another material (often fiberglass, but possibly vinyl or metal), provide the weather resistance of fiberglass with the durability of wood.

Aesthetics and Curb Appeal: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Aesthetics are subjective, and some people may prefer the traditional look of wood, while others might favor the more modern, streamlined look of fiberglass windows. Both materials can enhance curb appeal and suit specific architectural styles. Wood windows typically look best on historic homes, while fiberglass complements more modern architecture.

Fiberglass is versatile and can mimic real wood grain, although the handmade quality and unique natural texture of wood are more evident up close. Fiberglass clad wood windows may offer the best of both worlds.

Durability: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass is considered one of the most durable window materials, as it’s waterproof and doesn’t warp, crack, expand, or contract with temperature changes. Fiberglass windows have an expected lifespan of 50 years or more.

Wood, while susceptible to moisture and insects, can last for decades if properly maintained. The life expectancy of wood windows depends on maintenance and the type of wood used (hardwoods like oak and walnut outlast softwoods like pine and cedar).

Maintenance: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows require minimal maintenance. Although they can be painted, they don’t need paint or stain to maintain their appearance. Cleaning involves simply scrubbing dirt and grime with warm water and a sponge.

Wood windows, on the other hand, demand more maintenance due to their vulnerability to the elements. Frequent scraping, sanding, painting, and staining are necessary to keep them leak-free and looking new.

Energy Efficiency: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Both wood and fiberglass are energy efficient, with wood being a natural material with minimal thermal transfer and fiberglass offering outstanding insulation. However, wood windows can warp, expand, and contract over time, reducing their energy efficiency. Fiberglass windows maintain a higher level of energy efficiency for a longer period.

Cost: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Wood windows are typically the most expensive, but they can add value to your home. Fiberglass windows are less expensive than wood but cost more than vinyl windows.

Availability: Wood and Fiberglass Windows

Wood windows remain widely available, while fiberglass windows, though increasing in popularity over the last 20 years, are not as common. Top brands that manufacture these windows include Andersen Windows & Doors (fiberglass clad wood windows), Sierra Pacific (solid wood windows), and Marvin Windows (full fiberglass windows).

Pros and Cons of Wood Windows


  • Distinctive natural beauty
  • Historic charm
  • Can be painted or stained any color
  • Energy efficient
  • Long-lasting with care and maintenance
  • Can be customized to almost any size/shape


  • Susceptible to rot and insect pests
  • Requires ongoing maintenance
  • Expensive

Pros and Cons of Fiberglass Windows


  • Strong and durable
  • Less expensive than wood
  • Energy efficient
  • Very minimal maintenance
  • Resistant to weather and pests
  • Doesn’t expand, contract, or warp


  • Less widely available
  • Limited color options

Solid wood windows will likely always have a place in the market, but for many homeowners, fiberglass windows and fiberglass clad wood windows may be a better or more budget-friendly option.

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