According to the Window & Door Manufacturers Association in Des Plaines, Ill., 67.1 million window units were sold last year for both new construction and remodeling/replacement. Of those, 25.2 million were wood windows of which 11.3 million involved remodeling or replacement. Jeff Lowinski, the association's acting president, says that wood windows are holding their own for many reasons, one being increased demand for upscale replacement products.

Contractors who install primarily wood windows agree that it's the upscale customer who is looking to replace with wood. Wood window customers tend to be older and more affluent, observes Aaron Westmoreland, general manager for Wood Windows in Boise, Idaho, which sells vinyl as well as wood replacement windows. David Matus, co-owner of Matus Windows, Glenside, Pa., concurs. “To some extent you're dealing with an upscale clientele,” he says.

Product Knowledge Difference Westmoreland and Matus agree that when it comes to wood, there's more to know and deal with. “More options, more colors, more types of wood, different grids and jambs,” Westmoreland says. “You have to know the product inside and out,” Matus adds.

Installing differs as well, with wood windows generally being more challenging. “You certainly need someone with good carpentry skills, but it depends on the type of window,” Matus points out. “Some double-hung wood windows install very similarly to vinyl and go in easily, but there's always going to be a bit of carpentry work involved.”

At Wilson Colonial Exteriors in the Chicago suburb of Mundelein, salespeople emphasize not just aesthetics but also the value added to the home and the 28-year-old company's ability to service the product. Operations manager Jack McGann says that prior to installation, Wilson Colonial will paint or stain to match interiors, then send its painter to the home to put the finishing touches on the job.

Wood Window Mind Set Probably the most important difference between vinyl and wood windows is the mindset. For salespeople, Matus says, “it's a matter of believing in the product. Some vinyl guys don't get it. They can see that the wood window looks nicer, but they don't have an appreciation for the aesthetics.”

Wood window customers, on the other hand, want what they want. “They're usually more concerned with the aesthetics and the quality, and they're willing to spend the extra money to get them,” Matus says. And they want first-class installation, too. “When a customer is spending $1,000 on a window, it better look good.”