Fiberglass vs. Vinyl Windows

When shopping for new-construction or replacement windows, typically you will be presented with a choice of two materials: vinyl or fiberglass. Both use manmade materials.  Both provide excellent thermal resistance. Both are close to maintenance-free. So, which one should you buy?  On a basic structural level, fiberglass windows tend to be superior to vinyl windows. If you are interested in remodeling for the long run or in resale values, fiberglass windows are a clear choice, but with remodeling, decisions rarely come so easily, since a myriad of factors needs to be considered.  Elite Exteriors LLC is experienced in and willing to do each type of window. We can get any brand of either kind of windows including Beechworth fiberglass windows!

One factor is cost. Vinyl windows’ lower cost make them a close contender with fiberglass. Another factor is whether or not you can do them yourself. Since new construction vinyl windows are readily available in-stock in major home improvement stores, they can be DIY-installed, saving on labor costs. Fiberglass windows generally are special order items.

Materials: For vinyl windows, extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the base material. Inner structural elements that stiffen the framing may include metal. For fiberglass windows, polyester resins are activated by a catalyst and then pultruded, or pulled, through a heated die. Strands of glass or glass mats are impregnated with resins. The finished product is called a lineal and it is machinable and can be shaped. Fiberglass has long been used to create ultra-strong, lightweight materials for skis, surfboards, and canoes.

Strength: Vinyl and fiberglass windows are both made from inert substances that do not rot and are not tempting to insects like termites or carpenter ants. In that sense, vinyl and fiberglass windows are in the same arena for durability, especially when compared to wood windows–made from organic materials that bugs love to eat and which can rot.  Between vinyl and fiberglass, fiberglass windows will be more durable. Also, because fiberglass is sourced from glass–the same material as the window-glass–both frame and window-glass expand and contract at the same rate, leading to less of a chance of seal failure.  Seal failure in the IGU, or insulated glass unit, is a major cause of fogging and condensation.

Paint-ability: Fiberglass does offer more options for color and finish, but not vastly more options. Vinyl windows come in a number of “baked-in” colors, as do fiberglass windows. But fiberglass has the additional advantage of being paintable, while vinyl cannot be painted.

Eco-Friendliness: Fiberglass windows are considered greener than vinyl because fiberglass windows are about 60% glass, and glass can be recycled.

Wood-Look: Fiberglass can mimic the look of wood windows more than vinyl windows can.

Cost:  Vinyl will always be cheaper than fiberglass, at least in the foreseeable future. Expect to pay up to 30 percent more for fiberglass than for vinyl.  Fiberglass windows tend to reap higher resale values than vinyl windows. While windows, in general, are not a large factor in determining the sale price, fiberglass would bring a slightly higher price if considered.

Elite Exteriors LLC serves Southeastern Wisconsin and specializes in windows, insulation, roofing, siding, doors, and carpentry. We are a licensed, bonded, and insured contractor.  To get an estimate on insulation or to have your venting inspected, call us at (262)641-5760 or email us at [email protected].