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Wood windows require more maintenance than other types

Experts say wood replacement windows are the top choice for older homes and for homeowners who prefer a traditional appearance. Wood is more versatile, too; it can be milled or shaped to fit awkwardly sized openings, and it can be painted or stained any color. In general, expect to pay more than you would for a vinyl replacement window. If you're ordering a standard size, a regular double-hung pine replacement will cost in the neighborhood of $250 to $280. Additional  options bump up the price: "The same window made to order with high-performance glazing will be about $825. In mahogany the cost jumps to $2,100" say editors at ThisOldHouse.com.

Wood is both durable and insulating; it can withstand extreme temperatures, although humidity may cause it to swell and make double-hung windows harder to open and close. Wood replacement windows also are susceptible to moisture, so homeowners must keep them sealed by painting or staining them regularly. Both the initial cost and ongoing maintenance are higher for wood windows than for vinyl ones, but over the long term, that cost difference may even out. Editors of DoItYourself.com say "wooden casement windows typically enjoy a much longer functional lifespan than vinyl ones and can dramatically increase a home's resale value."

Wood and clad-wood replacement windows are the most eco-friendly choices of window materials, provided the wood is from a sustainable source, GreenHomeGuide.com editors say. Major window manufacturers like Andersen, Marvin and Jeld-Wen have information on their websites about the sources of their wood products. The Forest Stewardship Council has a database of FSC-certified retailers, manufacturers and distributors on its website.

Wood replacement windows should add significantly to the value of your home, according to most home renovation experts. However, in one discussion thread on GardenWeb.com, homeowners and real estate agents say this is not a given. For example, wood replacement windows may be much more appropriate for a historic Victorian home, while vinyl replacement windows may look just fine on a modern dwelling without detracting from a home's value.

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