When shopping for new windows for your home people quickly find out that it isn’t a simple choice. There are lots of products out there, and modern windows are made out of a variety of materials. One of the newly popular types is a fiberglass window, and here’s Glass-Rite’s advice when it comes to fiberglass windows vs. vinyl windows.
Fiberglass windows are really a new take on old technology. Fiberglass itself as a material is very strong and inflexible. For this reason it is a good product for over-sized units that might need extra stability, but it makes little sense to use it for normal house windows. Recently the window business has begun moving away from producing aluminum windows which is also a very strong material. The reason for this lies in its lack of efficiency, and fiberglass has the same problem. Glass itself is a very high conductor of heat energy, and fiberglass windows are simply not as efficient as windows produced out of wood or vinyl.
Fiberglass is strong, but as a material it cannot be fusion welded. What this tells the consumer is that all fiberglass windows are mechanically fastened; which means they are screwed together or have some other type of corner system. This is the same old construction technique that was used on aluminum windows. So while the fiberglass itself may be mostly inflexible, those fasteners and glues are not. They will expand and contract at different rates than the window frame, and that will eventually cause stress on the unit. Because the frames cannot be fusion welded they will not carry as good of an air infiltration rating as a vinyl window that is welded and has no secondary pieces holding it together.
One benefit of fiberglass is that it has many options for colors because it can be painted. However be careful with what type of paint coating you are getting. One of the top name brand window companies that are pushing fiberglass right now uses a gel coat type of paint. This type of coating is attractive but has a tendency to fade quickly. So, there are lots of “gel coat restorers” and similar products on the market for a reason. Those types of coatings are prone to fading, and in the worst scenarios, can actually crack. Any painted material will eventually need touching up. If it has been painted once, it will need to be painted again! Keep that in mind, especially if you live here in our South West climate. Our UV in New Mexico is extremely strong so be sure to ask about warranties on the coating. Vinyl windows have no exterior coating; they are the same color all the way through so will never need touch ups.
What isn’t usually mentioned by the fiberglass retailers is the cost difference. Fiberglass is an expensive material to make, so in turn is expensive to buy. Custom built fiberglass windows are costly, and can have a very long lead time. The cost difference between a fiberglass window and a vinyl window can be extreme. What it seems to come down to is style preference, and the willingness to pay for it. The efficiency ratings are better on the lower cost vinyl windows so the style choice may not warrant the higher price tag. Vinyl windows can be produced much more quickly and that time savings and material savings is passed on to the customer.
When shopping for windows (or anything else) it’s important that you get what you pay for. That’s what all of us really want! So take into consideration what you’re actually getting with the higher cost of fiberglass replacement windows, and take another look at vinyl. Our Energy Quest vinyl windows that we are manufacturing and installing at Glass-Rite are extremely efficient. Our windows have a typical U-Factor of a .28, which is lower than what is required for an Energy Star rating. These vinyl windows are built specifically for New Mexico’s climate and weather so will never warp or need any type of touching up. The vinyl itself has a smooth finish because we use the superior Mikron Blend vinyl that has a special formula to combat degradation. Our vinyl produces no VOC’s and is environmentally friendly. Please come visit us and take a “hands-on” look at our product and take a tour of our factory. Or feel free to call us for a free no pressure on-site estimate.