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Vinyl vs. Composite Windows

In the battle between Vinyl vs. Composite Windows, here are four key places to compare and contrast these distinct materials - window costs, styles and appearance, durability and strength, and finally energy efficiency. Click to see our picks for top rated composites.


Window Costs

Vinyl windows run from Window World prices of $189 fully installed to Sunrise windows prices on their premium vinyl Restorations Models (considered one of the top performers on the market) at roughly $750 fully installed. A good mid range vinyl window such as the Milgard Tuscany will run $425 fully installed. Composites run from Amsco Renaissance pricing at around $350 fully installed all the way up to Renewal By Andersen costs which can go as high as $1200 per window fully installed. A good mid range composite such as the Great Lakes EcoSmart should run $600 to $650 fully installed.


Style And Appearance

Vinyl windows are not all that stylish and their appearance is rather plain. Some of the top end vinyl windows are quite nice looking, but the majority aren't going to stand out in any way (this isn't necessarily a bad thing). Composites are again a mixed bag because the make up of the frame differs according to the individual manufacturer. The Andersen 100 Series gets high marks for looks because the composite frame is available in a ton of colors and finishes. In general, composite windows look quite nice and are often resemble the look of real wood, without the maintenance requirements.


Durability & Strength

Vinyl and composite windows are not necessarily known for their durability or strength, although they provide more than enough for 99% of all residential homes. Large vinyl windows in extremely hot climates are a bad idea, but besides this, either one will provide plenty of strength for a home. The strongest material by far is aluminum -- see more in our aluminum vs. composite windows page.


Energy Efficiency

Low end or poorly made vinyl windows are not very energy efficient and will not provide the sort of long term energy numbers that most homeowners are looking for. However, mid range and high end vinyl windows have some of the best energy efficient numbers you can get. Composite windows in general offer decent performance numbers, some like the Okna Starmark offer fantastic energy efficiency value. Check out our fiberglass vs vinyl window page to see how the top two performers stand up to one another.


Bottom Line

As long as you avoid poorly made vinyl windows, this frame material is the top replacement window choice for Americans. Well made vinyl windows are top performers at relatively reasonable prices. Composite windows are relatively new and so it's difficult to make general statements about how they perform, look and are priced out. In the end, top composites are going to be great windows, as are fiberglass, so it will come down to manufacturer and model as to how they look and how they work in your home.











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