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Who Comes Out On Top: Vinyl Windows vs Fiberglass Windows vs Wood Windows

Monday, November 24th, 2014 by Paul Kazlov


Oak veneer on the new window

The variety of window materials on the market has transformed home renovation from a technical industry into one that has opened up rooms for creativity, personal choices, and a more meaningful collaboration between homeowners and home improvement contractors. On top of having a plethora of window styles to filter through, homeowners are exposed to a generous selection of window materials, making window purchase a true combination of art and practicality. To help you understand how window materials affect the longevity, durability, and beauty of your window designs, we will discuss and compare the three most common window materials: vinyl, fiberglass, and wood.

Vinyl Windows

First appeared in the 1970s, vinyl has become a popular window material choice among homeowners for its affordability. Vinyl windows also require minimal upkeep and offer great insulation and energy efficient features to keep your energy expenditure down.

  • Strengths: Vinyl is definitely the cheapest among its counterparts. Home Renovations, for example, has reported vinyl windows to be about 25% cheaper than wood windows.

  • Weaknesses: While vinyl replacement windows never need painting or sealing, they cannot be painted. Homeowners are stuck with the color they choose upon installation. Additionally, white vinyl could yellow, while the stain colors may fade over time. Expansion and contraction due to temperature change can also cause vinyl to chip, crack, and show visible signs of wear and damage.

Fiberglass Windows

Although relatively new in the window industry, the innovative fiberglass windows are definitely gaining popularity among homeowners for their reliable and durable services. Fiberglass is energy efficient and consumes 39% less production energy than vinyl.

  • Strengths: Fiberglass is 100% recyclable and said to survive much longer than both wood and vinyl. Available in a variety of finish options, fiberglass can be stained to perfectly emulate the color, look, and touch of wood. It is 8 times more durable than vinyl and 3.5 times stronger than wood/vinyl composites.

  • Weaknesses: While fiberglass does not succumb to contraction and expansion, it definitely takes a larger upfront investment than vinyl. Additionally, the performance of your fiberglass window is highly dependent on its installation. Poor or improper installation can make fiberglass brittle, causing it to chip and crack easily.

Wood Windows

Wood windows are arguably a timeless favorite for traditional and modern homes. Passionately loved for their authentic feel and organic touch, the craftsmanship of wood windows is highly applauded for their quality and intricacy.

  • Strengths: Wood windows are made of organic materials, making them an environmentally friendly choice for any green homeowner. Flexibly designed to be stained or painted, wood windows offer a wide array of customization options and are naturally great insulators.

  • Weaknesses: Although beautiful in appearance, wood windows are much costlier than vinyl and fiberglass. Requiring constant upkeep and care to maintain its attractive look, wood windows need to be scraped, sanded, and re-painted or stained to prevent decay.

Homeowners looking for the perfect window materials may come to appreciate the unique strengths and weaknesses of each material. To avoid unpleasant surprises, we recommend homeowners conduct adequate research while carefully evaluating all their options. Doing so will guarantee a more informed purchase decision and greater peace of mind.

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