Vinyl vs. Fiberglass Windows
Windows are a fundamental part of every home. Not only do they provide protection from the elements and allow sunlight into your space, but they also enhance your home’s aesthetic and could potentially raise its curb value. However, not all windows are created equal. Certain windows won’t provide the same benefits for every home, and each type of window comes with its fair share of pros and cons that homeowners should be aware of before making any major renovations or purchases.
Thinking of Replacing Your Windows? You Have Choices
There are plenty of window materials out there, from vinyl to aluminum to wood. Perhaps the two most popular styles found on modern homes in the U.S. are vinyl and fiberglass. If you’re considering upgrading your windows soon, it’s fair to question which material will best fit your home. Some factors to consider are strength, durability, cost and energy efficiency, among others.
You may not think much about window appearance – the whole point is to look through them, after all – but fiberglass and vinyl windows have some aesthetic differentiators worth noting. Fiberglass windows can be painted, customized upon purchase and can closely mimic the appearance of wood windows. Vinyl windows, on the other hand, cannot be painted and tend to have a “plain” look.
Fiberglass windows also have more glass surface area than vinyl. This is because vinyl materials aren’t as strong, so more material is needed to construct the frame, resulting in less glass space. If more natural light and more versatile appearance options are important to you, consider fiberglass over vinyl.
Vinyl windows are more affordable because the material is less expensive and installation tends to be less labor intensive. Prices will always vary depending on the window size and installation job, but overall, you can expect to pay about 10 to 30 percent more for fiberglass windows than vinyl.
Part of the price difference is attributable to the fact that fiberglass windows must be professionally installed and cannot be purchased from a home improvement store. On the plus side, this should provide some peace of mind because you’ll be getting the best possible product as well as installation with an expert’s touch.
Home builders today commonly use vinyl windows because they’re more affordable, readily available, easier to install and nearly maintenance-free. Another plus is they’re often made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with ultraviolet light (UV) stabilizers, so they won’t fade in the sun or rust. Most vinyl windows should last up to 30 years on average.
Fiberglass windows are also very durable, with an estimated lifespan of about 50 years. Because the frame is reinforced with glass fibers rather than just plastic, fiberglass windows are more resistant to expansion and contraction in high or low temperatures, frame warp, and general distortion. Homeowners who choose to paint their fiberglass should know that they may have to re-paint it at some point if peeling occurs.
Overall, both vinyl and fiberglass tend to be energy-efficient choices, especially when compared to outdated or damaged windows. However, the hollow frames and air gaps that can develop in vinyl windows make for less-than-ideal insulation. If contraction occurs in a vinyl window, gaps and seal leaks can develop and lead to window fogging and the buildup of moisture in between the panes. Fiberglass windows are better insulated and will not shrink or expand.
If you’re looking to add resale value to your home, you really can’t go wrong with either choice. A recent estimate pinned an ROI of 74 percent on vinyl windows.1 Less resale value data exists for fiberglass windows because they’re a relatively new product. However, many experts believe they will potentially have a more significant impact on resale value because of their durability, energy efficiency and versatile appearance.
And the Winner Is…
At Gravina’s Window Center of Littleton, we recommend our customers choose the Infinity from Marvin because it’s simply the best fiberglass window on the market. The Infinity’s Ultrex® fiberglass is tough, energy-efficient and completely customizable to fit your aesthetic needs. If you’re ready to make the upgrade to fiberglass windows in your Denver-area home, contact Gravina’s Window Center by filling out an online form to receive a FREE estimate today!