Whether you’re planning for a new home build or looking for replacement windows, choosing between wood and vinyl can be a difficult decision. They’re two of the most reliable, durable and frequently used materials on the market. But which one is right for you?

Vinyl windows are an excellent option because they don’t rot or warp, and they have a clean, modern aesthetic. Wood windows are a dependable and durable option, rich with natural beauty. So, should you choose vinyl or wood? 

To answer that question, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of each material to help you make an informed decision that best fits your project and budget.


Cost and ROI

Let’s start by looking at the cost and ROI (Return on Investment) of vinyl vs. wood windows.



Since wood windows are durable and long-lasting, they don’t need to be replaced as often as other windows. Their lasting durability has an effect on their price.

Unit costs can be high due to the rising cost of lumber and a lack of manufacturing and availability. Plus, they can be an expensive window to produce. Labor costs may also be higher because they’re heavy, and the installation process can be more time-consuming. Based on a Cost vs. Value report, wood windows have a 67.4% return on investment. 


Since vinyl windows are less expensive to produce, they are more affordable. They’re also lighter than wood windows and easier to install. Based on the Cost vs. Value report cited above, vinyl windows have a 68.6% return on investment.






Wood windows have an average life of 20 years or more with the correct maintenance. If they’re correctly maintained, they are an incredibly durable and reliable window. Unfortunately, without proper care, they are vulnerable to the elements and insects. 

However, if homeowners commit to regularly repainting and resealing their wooden windows, they’ll look great for many years to come. On average, wood windows need to be sanded, repainted and resealed every 3-5 years, depending on the local weather conditions.


Vinyl windows don’t rot, warp or rust. They don’t require protective sealing or continuous maintenance like the wooden windows do. In that way, they are far less vulnerable and require less ongoing maintenance to sustain their durability. They typically last between 20 and 30 years depending on climate and conditions. 


Energy Efficiency


A stylish dining room with a dark wood table, farmhouse overhead light fixture and window seat with pillows.




Cold and heat cannot be transmitted through wood, making it an excellent option for insulation and energy efficiency. However, if the windows become worn down, rotted by the elements or damaged in any way, that advantage goes out the window — literally.


Vinyl windows are engineered to be great insulators. With a well-designed core, they don’t conduct heat or cold and are incredibly energy efficient. If the windows in question have a hollow core, on the other hand, they will transmit some heat and cold, making them a little less energy efficient than wood windows. You should pay close attention to performance values like the U-Factor to determine if a window will meet your expectations on efficiency. 


Styles and Colors




Wood is an entirely customizable window option. You can paint, stain and style it any way you like. Woodgrain is also a highly regarded and sophisticated design element. As a result, wood windows receive top marks for their style and color options.


Vinyl cannot be painted post-manufacturing. However, vinyl can be painted by the manufacturer and comes in a variety of colors and styles, including woodgrain laminate. Unfortunately, once you’ve chosen vinyl windows, you can’t change the color without replacing the windows themselves.





As we mentioned in the “Durability” section, wood windows can last over 20 years if they’re properly cared for. They have to be sealed and require regular maintenance to prevent them from breaking down to everyday wear and tear, inclement weather and insect infestations.


Vinyl has a lifespan of 20 years or more. Vinyl windows don’t require maintenance because they aren’t as susceptible to inclement weather, normal wear and tear and insects.



The Best Material for ROI and Energy Efficiency



A indigo blue living room with a fireplace, overstuffed couch and comfortable chairs.

In the wood vs. vinyl competition, the best choice for you is really a matter of personal preference. Let your situation, goals and budget guide your decision.

As with most products on the market, it’s not just the material you need to choose, but the manufacturer as well. You should always choose a reputable manufacturer that you can trust. At Paradigm, we’ve been crafting top-of-the-line vinyl windows since 1981 and take pride in our style, quality and affordability. 

Contact us today to learn more about our innovative, custom vinyl window solutions.