Have you found shopping for replacement windows time consuming and confusing?
When it comes time to replace a window in your home, it’s important to consider the differences between the various types of replacement options and what style would best suit your home. Learning about the differences and the pros and cons of the options available to you will allow you to determine the best replacement that fits your needs. Most importantly, you will make sure that you are completely satisfied with your chosen replacement.
One of the most common questions we receive from customers is:
“Which material –vinyl or fiberglass – should I choose for my windows and why?”
For this article, we’ll focus this specifically on vinyl and fiberglass materials; however, these are just two of the most common options in replacement windows. Aluminum has and continues to be a top choice for builder and architects. To learn more about Aluminum replacement windows, see our post about the Top 9 Benefits of Aluminum Replacement Windows.
Vinyl vs. Fiberglass Windows
Below we have listed a few of the benefits and downsides for each option so that you can better weigh the alternatives between vinyl and fiberglass replacement windows:
Vinyl Windows: Pros and Cons
Vinyl Windows Pros
- Vinyl windows do not require as much maintenance as they do not need to be painted, and because of the way they are manufactured they will never need any paint.
- Vinyl windows are designed with multiple chambers that trap dense air that helps to insulate the frame.
- Vinyl windows also have welded corners so there is no possibility for air or water leaks around the frame and sash.
- Vinyl units have a longer lasting effectiveness and keep their efficiency better for the long run because of their sealed corners
- Vinyl windows can be manufactured quickly and easily. They can be made down to the 1/8th of an inch to fit an opening exactly, and have a greater amount of flexibility during installation which makes them an easier fit.
- If you’re looking to replace your windows to increase the insulation in your home, vinyl is the less expensive option.
Vinyl Windows Cons
- Vinyl windows cannot be painted.
- Vinyl is made from a petroleum-based plastic, which is less eco-friendly than fiberglass that is typically made from sand.
- Many times, homeowners and contractors shy away from vinyl windows because some appear very synthetic.
- Vinyl windows have problems similar to those in wood and aluminum windows; all tend to warp, rot, crack, bow and shrink under the influence of weather conditions.
- The movement of vinyl windows as they expand and contract with temperature changes can cause the seal between the vinyl framework and the glass to fail. This problem increases with the size of the window; the bigger the sash, the faster it fails.
- Usually, vinyl windows cannot be repaired. Most will need to be replaced if worn or damaged.
Fiberglass Windows Pros and Cons
Fiberglass Windows Pros
- Fiberglass windows have more color choices and customizable features than vinyl windows.
- Fiberglass as a material has more strength than vinyl, some fiberglass windows can be up to 9 times stronger than vinyl windows – this means that fiberglass will last longer than vinyl.
- In fact, Fiberglass windows are estimated to have a 38% longer lifespan than vinyl, according to a 2007 case study.
- Windows made of fiberglass are actually three times more energy efficient and eight times stronger than windows made out of vinyl.
- Fiberglass is composed of glass fibers and resins (or silica sand) which are better able to expand and contract as the weather changes allowing it to maintain its integrity.
- Since fiberglass is made from one of the most abundant resources on the planet: silica sand, it takes much less energy to manufacture fiberglass windows than it does to make vinyl windows.
Fiberglass Windows Cons
- Fiberglass windows require more maintenance than vinyl windows, over the years they will need to be repainted.
- Since fiberglass windows come to the job site factory painted, they can be easily chipped or scratched during the installation process and may need to be touched up.
- Fiberglass windows offer less insulation, in some cases 3 times less, than vinyl windows.
- Over the years, fiberglass can weaken at the corners and let in more air, water and dust.
- Fiberglass windows are somewhat more labor intensive to make than vinyl windows – because fiberglass is so rigid that it can be difficult to install and it often requires more precision to get it set properly.
- Fiberglass windows tend to cost 10-30% more than other replacement windows like vinyl units.
If you’re still unsure which window options are right for your home, our expert installers at Frontline Windows & More, Inc. can answer all your questions and show you comparative samples to make your decision easier.