Better Wood Windows

New windows are a huge investment. Make sure you buy a window that provides the best look, feel, performance and resale value.

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JELD-WIN WindowsCourtesy of JELD-WEN

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Old wood windows rot and split, bind, and are drafty and energy inefficient. So when you’re ready to buy replacement windows, it’s really tempting to shop for windows made from alternative materials that don’t deteriorate like wood does. Vinyl windows are currently the most popular alternative, and they have some advantages over old wood window technology. But one major window manufacturer has developed a revolutionary wood treatment that’s changing the entire “vinyl vs. wood” comparison. You owe it to yourself to check out the latest treated wood window products before you grab a package deal on vinyl windows. We talked to the experts at JELD-WEN, a large replacement window manufacturer, to learn more about the technological advances in treated wood windows. Here’s what we learned.

JELD-WEN WindowsPhoto: Courtesy of JELD-WEN

Here’s why the replacement window market shifted to vinyl.

Old wood windows need regular maintenance to keep them sealed to prevent swelling and rot. Vinyl windows don’t require any maintenance and don’t have swelling, rot or termite issues. They come in several solid colors and simulated wood grain finishes, so they’ll come close to matching your current wood trim. But they’ll never match perfectly.

But vinyl windows aren’t invincible.

JELD-WEN WindowsCourtesy of JELD-WEN
Because vinyl has a much higher expansion/contraction rate than wood, vinyl windows can bind in high heat, and the movement often breaks the caulk seal, requiring recaulking. Although vinyl window manufacturers add UV inhibitors to the material, vinyl eventually fades, becomes brittle and develops cracks that can’t be repaired. You can extend the life of vinyl by painting, but you must use a lighter color—a darker color causes even more expansion and contraction. Plus, painting requires more rigorous surface preparation and more expensive latex urethane paint (to allow for expansion and contraction).

And they add less value.

There’s no getting around the fact that buyers prefer homes with wood windows in good shape over a comparable home with vinyl windows. In other words, vinyl windows cost less but add less value than wood windows.

A new wood treatment changes everything.

Most window manufacturers surface-treat wood by dipping it in a solvent-based wood preservative solution to reduce rot and insect damage. But a shallow surface treatment is like a skim coating of chocolate frosting on a vanilla cake. The second you cut or sand the wood, you’re back to vanilla, or untreated wood. So it’s no surprise that those wood windows fail along the surface, at joints and from weathering and water infiltration.

That’s why JELD-WEN developed the AuraLast water-based vacuum-pressure wood treatment process that drives a special wood preservative and insect repellent all the way to the core of the wood. So the wood is just as resistant to rot and insect damage on its surface as it is at the core. The AuraLast wood treatment resists swelling and eliminates rot, fungi and termite damage. Plus, the AuraLast treatment doesn’t change the color of the wood and is stainable and paintable just like untreated wood.JELD-WIN WindowsCourtesy of JELD-WEN

JELD-WIN WindowsCourtesy of JELD-WEN

Wood windows are a great choice.

Choosing vinyl windows made sense when their only competition was dipped wood or composite windows. But AuraLast windows from JELD-WEN change the whole vinyl vs. wood equation. Finally, you can buy a window that provides all the beauty and advantages of real wood without any of the disadvantages.

New windows are a huge investment. Make sure you buy a window that provides the best look, feel, performance and resale value. Before you make your choice, check out AuraLast windows from JELD-WEN. To learn more, click here.

— Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor