Wood Windows – Worth the High Price Tag?

Wood windows add warmth to a home and never go out of style. They’re energy efficient and provide a great return on investment.

If you’re considering wood windows, there’s one major drawback: they’re more expensive than vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. They also require a bit more upkeep. But when well maintained, these windows will last for decades – potentially, a lifetime.

If you’re wondering if wood windows are worth the splurge, here’s what to consider.

What is a Wood Window?

Wood Window FramesView in gallery

Wood windows have wooden frames and sashes, with pine being the most common species. Other popular wood choices are douglas fir, cedar, oak, maple, teak, and mahogany.

While a traditional wood window is solid throughout, some manufacturers offer wood-clad products. A wood-clad window has a wooden frame, but the exterior has a coating – usually aluminum or fiberglass – to protect the window from the outdoor elements.

Traditional wood windows need to be stained or repainted, while wood-clad windows don’t.

What Styles Do Wood Windows Come In?

If you’re in the market for wood windows, you’re in luck. You can get them in standard options like double-hung, single-hung, or casement style. You can also find decorative versions like arched, bay, and bow windows.

Wood windows are easily customized. You can order them unfinished or pre-primed, and select manufacturers offer them pre-finished. Wood windows often come with muntins – the vertical dividers that look like grids.


How Much Do Wood Windows Cost?

Wood windows are more expensive than vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. The average double-hung wood window costs anywhere from $650 – $1,300, depending on the type of wood and brand. 

The least expensive options are pine, fir, and oak. The most costly are cherry, mahogany, and teak.


Wood Windows Pros and Cons

Wood windows offer a classic look but, like anything else, have their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Can last over 50 years – When well maintained, it’s not uncommon for these windows to last more than 50 years.
  • Traditional look – Wood windows have a classic look that never goes out of style.
  • Customizable – You can paint or stain the wood any color.
  • Eco-friendly – Wood is a renewable product and the most eco-friendly of all window frame choices.
  • Great for older homes – Vinyl windows can cheapen the look of historic homes. Wood windows blend in.

Pros:

  • Need maintenance – If left untreated or unpainted, wood can rot, warp, and absorb moisture. 
  • Vulnerable to insects – Wood is susceptible to insects like termites and wood-boring bees.
  • Can warp – When not maintained, a wood window can warp, causing air leaks.
  • More expensive – A wood window is significantly more costly than a vinyl window.

What Brands Carry All-Wood Windows?

If you’re in the market for wood windows, you can find them from many brands. Here’s a look at some of the top manufacturers that make wooden windows:

Some big brands, like Pella and Milgard, offer wood windows with a fiberglass or aluminum coated exterior frame – these are called wood-clad windows. The big box stores, like Lowes and Home Depot, also offer some all-wood windows.


How Often Should You Paint Wood Windows?

On average, you’ll need to repaint or refinish the exterior of your wood windows every 5-10 years. Repainting or refinishing rates will depend upon the climate. For example, if you live in a mild climate and use a high-quality paint or finish, you can wait years between repainting. On the other hand, if your home receives a lot of direct sunlight or you live near the ocean, you’ll need to refinish your windows more often. 


Why are Wood Windows Better than Vinyl?

If you’re debating between wood and vinyl, both have advantages and disadvantages. Wood offers a classic look, insulates well, and can last over 50 years. The downside? You have to worry about refinishing it every so often.

Vinyl windows are also energy efficient and a fraction of the price. While they won’t last nearly as long as well-maintained wood, you don’t have to worry about refinishing them.


Wood Windows vs. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is one of the most durable window frame materials. It’s sometimes less expensive than wood and doesn’t expand or contract, making it ideal for harsh climates. The biggest con to fiberglass is that it doesn’t come in as many styles or colors. 


Wood vs. Wood Clad Windows

If you’re considering wood windows, you’ve undoubtedly come across many wood-clad options. A wood-clad window has a wood frame and sash, but the exterior has a thin fiberglass, vinyl, or aluminum coating.

The benefit of wood-clad options is that the cladding offers protection. You don’t have to worry about refinishing since the exterior is coated in a weather-proof material. In addition, wood-clad windows are slightly more energy efficient than wood and of similar costs.

The most significant difference is the looks. The outside of a wood-clad window is not wood, so it’s not the best choice for a historic home, log cabin, or craftsman-style house.


Can You Mix a Wood Window with Other Styles?

Do you have vinyl or fiberglass windows in your home and want to throw wood into the mix? You can pull off this look as long as the frames are the same size and color. Otherwise, it will be noticeable.

As a general rule of thumb, using a single frame material throughout your home is a good idea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Do wood windows have weep holes?

The purpose of weep holes is to drain water away from your home. Not all windows have weep holes. Some windows have a sloped sill to encourage water run-off. 

Do wood windows rot?

If you have painted, stained, sealed, or varnished your wood windows, they’re unlikely to rot. The chance of a wood window rotting is only high when the window is left unfinished and exposed to the elements.

What is a wood window sash?

The window sash is what holds the glass in place. In a double-hung window, the sashes are what lift up and down. In a casement window, the sash is what swings. A wood window sash means that the section holding the glass in place is wood.

Can you put a wood window in the shower?

Putting a wood window in the shower is not a good idea. It can water-log and rot when exposed to moisture and high humidity. If you can’t replace the window, consider covering it with a shower curtain, replacing the frame, or replacing the sill.

Final Thoughts

Wood windows are a top pick among most homeowners. While you can use them in any home, they’re most popular for historic homes, log cabins, and craftsman-style houses. Even though these timber frames cost more, they last a lifetime when well-maintained. 

The most significant disadvantage to a wood window is the maintenance. Depending on the climate, you’ll need to repaint or refinish your wood windows an average of every 5-10 years.