When choosing new windows for a construction or replacement project, homeowners are typically presented with a choice between two materials – vinyl or fiberglass. Windows are an integral part of the safety, beauty, and energy efficiency of your home, and it is important to consider which material can provide all of these aspects.
From an aesthetic standpoint, there are a few major differences in the appearance of fiberglass and vinyl windows. On close inspection, vinyl windows have an obvious join line at the corners, while fiberglass windows do not. Fiberglass windows, in contrast to vinyl windows, can more accurately mimic the look of wood windows. Due to this, fiberglass windows often appear more upscale than vinyl windows. While vinyl windows are cheaper to install, fiberglass windows will increase your home’s resale value by improving its appearance by giving your home the beauty and elegance of wood grain finished windows. Fiberglass windows have more options for style and color than vinyl windows, which allows for a greater degree of flexibility when designing your home.
Arguably the most important factor in choosing the right window for your home or business is safety. Protecting your assets is crucial to peace of mind, and both fiberglass and vinyl windows offer a first line of defense against potential threats. However, there are significant differences between the durability of the two. While cheaper, vinyl windows are not as strong as fiberglass windows. Fiberglass is up to eight times stronger than vinyl. With proper care, fiberglass windows will significantly outlast vinyl windows. A good quality vinyl window is rated for up to 30 years. By comparison, a fiberglass window can last 50 years or more when properly maintained.
While both frames are made of plastic, fiberglass frames are reinforced with glass fibers. This adds a significant amount of strength to the end product. Vinyl frames are made up of only plastic, and at temperatures of more than 165 degrees, the plastic begins to melt – warping and worsening the integrity of the vinyl frame. This can pose significant issues for homes in hot climates – especially on extremely hot days. Fiberglass, however, will always maintain its integrity due to its glass reinforcement.
Energy Efficiency and Insulation
Fiberglass and vinyl frames are both made of plastic. However, fiberglass frames are reinforced with glass fibers. The addition of this material means that fiberglass does not expand and contract with heat and cold like vinyl. Due to this, fiberglass windows are better insulators than vinyl windows. The addition of these glass fibers means that fiberglass is a 15% better insulator than vinyl – which can contribute to significant cost savings in energy costs for your home or business. As fiberglass windows are better insulators, they also reduce noise. With better insulating properties, fiberglass windows are more efficient at blocking street and neighborhood noises.