Compare Fiberglass Vs. Vinyl Windows


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Fiberglass Vs. Vinyl Windows

In the battle between fiberglass vs. vinyl windows, here are four key places to compare and contrast these very different window frame materials - cost, style, strength and energy efficiency.

Pricing & Costs

Fiberglass windows will cost more, perhaps $100 to $150 per window over an equivalent vinyl model. There are a few reasons for this; it is seen as a stronger material and there are much less manufacturers, which means less competition etc. Vinyl is the most popular window frame and there are hundreds of manufacturers in the U.S., meaning more competition and often lower prices and more options etc. A mid range vinyl window will run $425 installed while a fiberglass equivalent will run $550 installed.

Style & Aesthetics

On the style and aesthetics front, it's hard to see a clear winner - literally, it is difficult to tell a fiberglass and vinyl window apart even from right up close. It comes down to the actual product; for instance the Marvin Infinity fiberglass window is widely regarded as a very nice looking window, while the Pella Impervia is often knocked by industry experts for its overall look. On the vinyl front, the Okna 800 model (identical to the HiMark 800 model) is regarded as a very nice looking window, while some of the Gorell windows are big and bulky - although generally regarded as a high quality company and product (now owned by Soft-Lite).

Strength & Durability

Fiberglass windows have the advantage over vinyl windows, with fiberglass manufacturers giving them an 8 to 1 strength ratio over vinyl. Fiberglass will hold up over time, however a well made vinyl window will provide all of the strength that a homeowner will reasonably need.

Energy Efficiency

For a long term perspective, fiberglass is probably a bit more energy efficient than vinyl. Two comparable products will usually have the same basic numbers (U-factor, SHGC, VT and AI). Over time, the vinyl window typically will have a slightly bigger decline in overall energy efficiency than the fiberglass frame. A good quality vinyl window though shouldn't decline too much though and it would be difficult for a homeowner to probably tell the difference.

Bottom Line

Both of these window frames offer some nice advantages for homeowners. Fiberglass frames are stronger and probably offer better energy efficiency over the long term, but a good vinyl window will suite most homeowners just fine. If the $100 to $150 per window is not a big deal for you, buy a nice fiberglass window and you will be happy. If that price difference hurts your budget, select a nice quality vinyl window with good installation and you will be happy for a long time down the road.

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