Vinyl windows Vs Fiberglass windows

by megan on March 28, 2013

Investing in replacement windows for a home is something that homeowners should not take lightly.  Windows and doors do affect the feel and design of your home, but they also are a functional element. The greatest contributors to heat loss in your home are usually your doors and windows, so the insulating factors of new replacements should definitely be taken into account. Many customers asks us if we would recommend vinyl windows or fiberglass windows. Our answer is that they are both very efficient and can carry an Energy Star rating, however there are pros and cons to each product, so be sure to do some homework before you buy! Below we have listed some facts that can help in the decision making process.

Maintenance:

Fiberglass windows have more options for paint colors than a vinyl window, but they do require maintenance.  Though they come to job site factory painted, they can be easily chipped or scratched during the installation process and will need touching up.  Over the years you will need to repaint fiberglass windows.  Vinyl windows should not be painted, and because of the way they are manufactured they will never need any paint.  Since the material is the same color all the way through, they will never need touching up.

Insulation:

All mechanically fastened windows, including fiberglass windows, can leak in the corners.  Fiberglass windows offer less insulation, in some cases 3 times less, than vinyl windows.  Over the years, the fiberglass material can weaken at the corners and let in more air, water and dust.  Vinyl windows are designed with multiple chambers that trap dense air and help 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.  Because of the sealed corners, vinyl units have a longer lasting effectiveness and keep their efficiency better for the long run.

Installation:

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.  Fiberglass as a material has more strength than vinyl, and it is certainly true that it contracts and expands less than vinyl, however constant contraction & expansion diminishes this issue.  Fiberglass windows are somewhat more labor intensive to make than a vinyl window.  Because fiberglass is so rigid they can be difficult to install and require more precision to get it set properly (they are not recommended for do-it-yourselfers!).  Fiberglass also weighs considerably more than vinyl so large windows may require extra help.

Cost:

One of the most important deciding factors when replacing windows and doors is of course how much it will cost.  One of fiberglass windows’ biggest downsides is cost.  Fiberglass windows tend to cost 10-30% more than other replacement windows like vinyl units.  It becomes a matter of style over efficiency.  Fiberglass has more color choices and customizable features, but if you’re looking to replace your windows to increase the insulation in your home, vinyl is the less expensive option.

At Glass-Rite we took all these factors into account when designing our window lines, and decided to put our focus on vinyl instead of fiberglass windows.  Our vinyl windows have a welded frame and welded sashes so there is no air infiltration through the corners.  Fiberglass may be a dimensionally stronger material than vinyl, but at Glass-Rite we use a metal stiffener in the meeting rails so the windows do not need any other reinforcement.  Having hollow chambers on either side of the stiffener provides a very solid frame.  Our vinyl is built specifically for our South West climate and is tested frequently for performance at Quanex Industries in Tuscon Arizona.  If you’d like to learn more, or see the process for yourself please call or come down to our showroom.  We’d be happy to give you the tour!  Call or e-mail us today for a free, no pressure, estimate on your replacement needs.