Wood windows have charm and authenticity, vinyl windows may be popular and aluminum windows may be inexpensive. But there are trade offs for these window frame materials versus fiberglass:
- Wood requires more maintenance than any other window frame unless clad with a less permeable material. Fiberglass is significantly stronger and more insulating. It resists climate, pests and expansion and contraction. (In other words, it is more dimensionally stable than wood is during temperature fluctuations).
- Vinyl windows offer many options but are also less dimensionally stable than fiberglass. If your area's daily and annual extremes are severe, fiberglass windows will serve you better.
- Aluminum offers excellent strength, but its insulating qualities are very poor. Unless an aluminum window has a built-in thermal break, condensation and even frost can occur.
Cost efficiencies of fiberglass
A top-rated fiberglass double-hung window will run $250 or more while a fairly similar top-rated vinyl window can be in the $400 neighborhood. Prices will vary by brand and features, so for price comparisons be sure to check that these window components are the same:
- Window frame material, and type of cladding, if any
- Whether frame is solid, hollow, or insulation-filled
- Number of panes, and what coatings they may have
- Whether the panes are filled with air or gas. Gas is more dense, so it makes a better insulator
- Ratings labels, both ENERGY STAR and the ratings on the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) label. Better ratings usually mean lower monthly utility costs, year after year
Choices of styles, types, and colors
Architectural styles of fiberglass windows will fit most homes from Mediterranean to modern, prairie style to Queen Anne. Types from double-hung to slider, hopper, awning, casement and more are available. Colors choices are more limited than with vinyl windows, but some brands offer custom colors. Choices tend to be a range of popular neutrals to complement any exterior siding from clapboard to stucco to redwood. Your color choice may be a special cap that is bonded to the fiberglass. Forget repainting, and maintenance is a simple wash-down.
Save on monthly utility bills
Fiberglass is a dense, impervious product that is very resistant to the deterioration caused by expansion and contraction in most other frame materials. Some fiberglass windows are available with high-impact ratings for strong wind areas. Not all product lines within a brand have the same energy efficiency ratings, so be sure to learn and study the NFCR ratings label for your particular climate. It may take ten or more years to recover your investment in ENERGY STAR fiberglass windows, but monthly utility savings can save you 10 percent or more, depending on the type of window you're replacing.
Make shopping easier
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