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Old 02-10-2011, 03:00 AM   #1
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Wooden Windows or Plastic?

I feel this must have already been discussed but I couldn't find anything. I'm about to make a decision about some new windows. I've got a few quotes and I reckon I've chosen one, but my main decision is still yet to be made ..... plastic or timber?

I live in the UK and I really want timber, and I also want to see the wood, otherwise most of the point in having wood is lost. Now I know that wooden windows require maintenance, and that's what I want to know more about. I've heard that my want to be able to see the wood incures more frequent maintenance, but I see many houses about with wooden windows (and I do know the difference between the look of real wood and plastic immitation), and many where the wood is visible, and I'm wondering is the maintenance required really as extensive as I believe? I've also seen a wooden house with plastic windows and I'm wondering, if wooden windows need such maintenance, what about a wooden house?

I've heard that if I want to see the wood the frequency of maintenance required would be about every 3 years. If given a protection which hides the wood texture, a coloured paint, then it will last a bit longer, perhaps 5 to 7 years depending on house situation.

I've also heard about microporous paint that allows the wood to breathe and, apparently, does not need scraping off but only requires a rub down with a cloth and recoating. I've also heard that it's not actually as simple as that and it does peel and need scraping off. I've also heard about paint such as Sandolin that seeps into the wood so therefore doesn't protect just from the outside but also the inside and does not have such a thick outer coat that needs scraping off and is more likely to actually only require a rub down before recoating.

In other words I'm confused. Am I letting myself in for a lot of work if I decide on wooden windows (especially the upstairs windows). What are the pros and cons of wood and plastic? I hear that wood is a better insulator, but that the double glazing seals don't last as long as on plastic. Any advise would be appreciated, especially from people who have wooden windows.


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Old 02-10-2011, 05:49 AM   #2
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I don't know what brands you have over there.

I usually install Anderson windows--They are wood core,clad on the outside with vinyl.

The wood is still visible inside the house. These windows have the strength of wood and the insulation of wood without having the outside exposed to the elements.

Sadly the wood today is not like the wood used in windows 200 years ago.

Modern wood windows start to rot within a few years---complete failure within 12 years is common.

I would not recommend wood exteriors any more--the manufacturers can not get the wonderful old growth Fir or other hearty woods that were available 100 years ago.--Mike--


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Old 02-10-2011, 06:40 AM   #3
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As a remodeler I have used both for years. Both have plus and minus characteristics. For vinyl, cost is the biggest +, usually 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of wood. Most new construction uses PVC, it is durable, maintenance free, but looks cheap, and few decorating options for the interior. Recently, the manufacturers have developed wood veneers that work well and give the interior the look of wood. High end construction still uses wood, generally Andersen or Marvin. Marvin makes a sash replacement kits with just the sashes with high efficiency glass and jamb liners that fit inside the existing window frame. Clad exteriors and wood interior to be finished as desired. Even those are more expensive than PVC replacements. Complete window replacement is very expensive(labor), and usually not necessary if the old frames are not rotted.

As suggested above, wood is not what it once was, but there are preservatives added to reduce rot problems. And exterior cladding practically eliminates maintenance. I have traveled through Britain and France and find the window manufacturer there have very differerent ideas from ours, but they all do the same thing, let light in and keep the weather out.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:51 AM   #4
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I too like Anderson. I have tried 2 Pella window installs, and both the customers are unhappy. Both were casements, both customers, random window sashes warped around 6 months after the install and Poly finish. Pella showed up and put in new tighter closing catches. That helped, but now a year after more windows are showing the same signs of warping. Pella comes, investigates, confirms all was installed properly and fixes it, but still a headache.

Anderson is the way to go. PVC covered sash, wood trim inside. PVC outside. Personally like wood too, but don't like the headache with wood on the window itself.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:45 PM   #5
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Nowadays in the UK installing plastic windows usually devalues your home. 20 years ago they were seen as a positive selling point.
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:19 PM   #6
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Twenty years ago, I had all my wooden windows removed and replaced by plastic (vinyl) casements.

When I moved to the city, one of the reasons that I bought this house that I now live in, was that it had dual glazed plastic (vinyl)windows.
These are double hung and can be opened inwards for cleaning purposes.

I cannot imagine ever considering anything else!
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:13 AM   #7
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Thanks for those replies folks. You'll have to forgive me taking a long time to reply. I have heard of those type of combination windows you mention with wood core and plastic (or aluminium) on the outside but I've never seen them. Does the vinyl covering look exactly the same as fully plastic windows? I'll have to hunt them out here in the UK.

That does sound like the way I might have to go, unless there is a way of maintaining the windows that does not require scraping off of old preservative and only requires a rub down with a cloth and recovering. I reckon I could cope with that. Is there such a product? Does every type of preserving product produce an outer covering that eventually peels and needs scraping off? These products that sink into the wood and preserve it from the inside, not relying so heavily on an outer covering, do they also peel?
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:18 AM   #8
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Wooden Windows or Plastic?

I usually prefer wooden windows because they are more safe than plastic windows and looks good.
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:04 AM   #9
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What do you mean by 'safe' Blue Heron? And what do you use to preserve wooden windows?
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:09 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Blue Heron View Post
I usually prefer wooden windows because they are more safe than plastic windows and looks good.
I'm sure you can explain what you mean by this. Because to me, this makes little sense.
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Old 02-23-2011, 03:43 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ron6519 View Post
I'm sure you can explain what you mean by this. Because to me, this makes little sense.
I agree.... Vinyl (plastic) windows are superior to wood windows in nearly every regard except looks. They are less expensive, more energy-efficient, less maintenance, last longer, and have better warranties. Looks, however, can be very powerful, and that is where a real wood window can't be beat.
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:10 AM   #12
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Timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production. Timber window frames will last a lifetime as long as you regularly protect the wood from moisture. Any soft spongy wood needs to be replaced before rot sets in. Before embarking on bigger repairs, check to see if your opening frame has loose joints that can be easily repaired with dowels. If they're loose, simply cramp the frame together and drill two holes through the joint - making sure the drill bit passes all the way through the frame.

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Old 03-31-2012, 07:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Replaceme080 View Post
I always suggest wooden windows because they much safer than plastic windows.
Do tell, how are they "safer"?
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:28 AM   #14
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Wooden furniture has no comparison. It is a choice of all generations of all the times. If you are an ardent fan of wood, you would admire the artifacts made out of wood. If you are using a wooden flower vase, use large flowers and foliage to put into the case. Use a vase that is more tapering toward the base.

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Old 04-04-2012, 09:25 AM   #15
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Last year we replaced all the vinyl clad, wood core Anderson windows in three differant homes.
The reason, all the bottom sashes had rotted out.
If you check Anderson choice to leave the end grains of the wood uncovered in the sashes and the sills, so water was just wicked into the frames.


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