Whether you’re looking for window replacements or windows for a new building, you want to choose something that is made to last decades. It may thus be challenging deciding which material is made to last longer between wood and vinyl. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each before coming to a decision. Consider also the cost, energy efficiency and lifespan of each product.

Vinyl window frames

Vinyl windows are the popular choice for replacement windows as they do not warp or rot. They are manufactured from a durable material known as polyvinyl chloride and many other components that prevent UV light from damaging the frame. Most of them come with hollow cores however, they are available with a foam filling for added insulation.

Wood window frames

Wood window frames are preferred for their dependability. They are durable and easy on the eyes. Most are manufactured from Pine or Douglas Fir and nowadays available in Cedar, Oak and Alder. Mahogany is relatively more expensive than the commonly used options like Douglas Fir.

Vinyl is best for: low cost materials, installation is cheaper, can be easily done by yourself and they are low maintenance.

Wood is best for longevity, visually appealing, available in colours and can be painted and they are found in most historic homes.

#1. Cost: Wood vs Vinyl

The two products differ significantly with initial costs. Wood windows do not need to be replaced often and is beneficial to home owners in the long run. However, one of the cons is that it may be expensive to initially install ranging anywhere from $300-$800. The reason for this is that wood windows are produced by fewer companies. Vinyl windows cost much less, around $150-$400 per window which means that the material is less expensive. But vinyl windows need to be replaced sooner that most other types.

#2. Energy efficiency

Wood is one of the better materials for insulation and energy efficiency. Wood also controls the amount of heat and cold that enters the home. If it is damaged due to bad weather conditions, rot or general defaults and wood window repairs is not done correctly, any gap in the window will allow heat and cold to get inside. Vinyl windows are a good insulator and newer types that are foam filled further enhance insulation. If the core of the window frame is hollow, heat and cold may enter the home.

#3. Installation

Wood can cost around $200-$300 labour on each window and is heavier, thus more difficult to install. Vinyl costs $150-$250 labour on each window and is lighter and thus easier to install.

#4. Replacement, Maintenance & Repairs

Window replacements generally cost around $300-$700 for each window but if you’re looking for an easy to install, hassle free replacement, you may want to consider:

Wood: more complex installation process, may need to be modified to fit and may need finishing touches like sanding and staining.

Vinyl: installation is fast, and no sanding is necessary. Windows are installed as is.

Now consider whether you would mind painting or staining your window frames, or whether you like low maintenance frames:


  • Requires more maintenance
  • Must be stained or painted every 4 years
  • Damages from weather and elements
  • May be prone to pest damage


  • Does not require much maintenance
  • No repainting, just wash annually
  • No need to reseal
  • Does not rust or rot
  • Resistant to weather conditions

Wood can last over 50 years if it is well-maintained as opposed to a poorly maintained wood window. The problem is that wood is more prone to weather damage and may chip, rot or break. Vinyl, on the other hand, doesn’t rot and is weather resistant. It is not likely to crack unless it is struck with excessive force. Repairs are commonly only made to the hardware.

#5. Design

Wood is more customizable and can be painted and stained accordingly. Many people opt for this as it is timeless and actually may look better with time. Hardware and colour may be changed as and when needed.

Vinyl is also now available in many different colors instead of the usual white and light brown. New colors may cost more though, and vinyl windows cannot be painted.


Before deciding on the type of window you prefer, you should think about what you prefer and your lifestyle. Decide if you will have the time for regular maintenance and whether you will remember to treat the product often.