Window Replacement Comparison for Minneapolis Homes

Quick Guide To the Differences Between Wood, Composite & Vinyl Windows

Large white kitchen with island and row of white casement windows with grids above kitchen sink.

Choosing the right material for replacement windows in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas can be tough. The truth is, all window materials have their own unique advantages.

The question is, which material has the most and best benefits for Twin Cities homeowners?


Here’s a brief look at the differences between the Twin Cities’ most popular window materials: wood, composite, and vinyl.

Wood Windows What You Need To Know

Woodgrain windows in a living room

Let’s be honest: Wood windows are gorgeous. The issue is that appearance is pretty much the only advantage wood windows have. Do you want to keep your wood windows looking beautiful? Be prepared for a lot of maintenance; regular painting and scraping are a must.

Another problem with wood windows is that they’re prone to rotting, warping, and insect infestation. They also have a high rate of expansion and contraction, which means they can swell in the summer (making them harder to open) and shrink in the winter (letting in drafts).

Even with all these issues, wood windows will still drain your bank account — they’re one of the most expensive options for window replacement in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding areas.

Bottom line: Wood windows look spectacular, but they’re expensive and require constant maintenance. If you don’t mind the high price tag and regular upkeep, wood windows might be a good choice for you.

Low-Maintenance, High-Quality Composite Windows

Composite windows (a.k.a. Fibrex from Renewal By Andersen) are a 60% vinyl, 40% wood hybrid. The exterior of a composite window is made of vinyl, while the interior is wood.

An important thing to note is the wood in composite windows is actually leftover sawdust from the manufacturing of other windows. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but composite window companies typically market composite windows as having the “strength and stability of wood,” while failing to mention that this “strong and stable” wood is…sawdust.

Homeowners consider the biggest drawback of composite windows to be the hefty price tag. They’re exceptionally expensive — basically on par with the ultra-high cost of wood — even though they look and function much the same way as vinyl windows.

Bottom line: Composite windows are low maintenance just like vinyl, but at a much higher cost. If you’re considering composite windows, determine whether that extra cost is worth paying.

Watch Out for Low-Quality Vinyl Windows

There are many vinyl windows on the market, varying wildly in quality. The many choices make it hard for most homeowners to determine which are good and which are bad.

An easy way to spot low-quality vinyl windows is that they often have a “plastic look” that lowers curb appeal. They’re also not very energy-efficient (read more about window energy efficiency in Minneapolis) and are prone to chalking and fading.

Bottom line: Low-quality vinyl windows are cheaper on the front end, but don’t often look good or perform well. You may save money upfront with cheap vinyl windows, but you’ll end up paying more — much more — in the long run.

Choose High-Quality Vinyl Windows

Exterior view of Vinyl Sliding Windows

For homeowners looking for replacement windows in the St. Paul and Minneapolis areas, high-quality vinyl windows provide exceptional performance, looks, maintenance, and value.

High-quality vinyl windows don’t have the “boxy, plastic” look low-quality vinyl windows do; they also usually have more glass area. High-quality vinyl windows are much more energy-efficient, as well.

Advantages of high-quality vinyl windows:

  • Durable
  • Resist rot, infestation, or moisture damage
  • Low maintenance — no painting or staining
  • Energy-efficient
  • Beautiful, often available in a wide range of colors
  • Reasonable price

Bottom line: High-quality vinyl windows offer all the features homeowners want in a window. They look great, operate smoothly, are energy-efficient, require little maintenance, and can even come with a lifetime warranty.

Fiberglass Windows

Fiberglass windows are great for Minneapolis and St. Paul homeowners looking for Class-A curb appeal and the best durability. Fiberglass windows have exploded in popularity because they combine many of the best features of other window materials.

Need proof? See how our own Zen Master Series fiberglass windows provide the best of all worlds when it comes to windows.

We provide the best vinyl replacement windows for Minneapolis, St. Paul, and beyond. We would love to discuss your project with you.

Replacement Window Tax Credits Are Available for Homeowners

There are home improvement tax credits available for installing energy-efficient windows in your home. This is part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which allows for a 30% (maximum 600$) tax credit on the cost of your new windows. This tax credit is on an annual limit, so you are able to claim it for multiple years if you replaced part of your home’s windows in 2024, and the remainder in 2025 for example. Read our blog page on the home improvement tax credit, and see if your home qualifies!

Have more questions about the right window material for your home? Contact us today.