At first glance one would think that this is an easy question to answer. Most insulation for your home is made up of fiberglass, so it would follow that a window frame made of fiberglass would be more energy efficient than a vinyl frame of similar quality. The reality is that the frame material itself is only a small portion of the R-Value calculation of the entire window assembly. In addition, many vinyl windows are extruded with multiple chambers for trapped air and/or are often filled with a rigid or injected foam. These processes tip the scale toward well-designed vinyl window frames, as they provide more total efficiency when compared to their fiberglass counterparts. But as you know, most of the replacement window is made of glass. The glass options and upgrades will translate to larger performance gains in efficiency as compared to the frame material. A well-made vinyl frame with an Energy Star Qualified glass pack will most often be more energy efficient than the fiberglass option. Make sure to analyze all the window data to make sure the comparison is accurate.
2. What is the cost difference between vinyl and fiberglass replacement windows?
When it comes to the cost of fiberglass windows, they will almost universally be more expensive than their vinyl counterpart. There are, of course, contractors that charge exorbitant prices for their vinyl windows. However, even with these high priced contractors, the fiberglass option will almost always come in at a much higher price point. Homeowners should expect a price tag of approximately 1.5x the cost of a quality vinyl equivalent. The consumer needs to decide if the positive attributes of fiberglass windows (aesthetics, options and construction) hold the necessary value for this price tag.
3. Which replacement windows are look more like wood - vinyl or fiberglass replacement windows?
Some vinyl windows have a synthetic look and feel, which can be undesirable for homeowners. Many projects remove existing wood windows and homeowners do not want to lose the organic feel and warmth of wood.
Fiberglass window construction is closer to the look of wood, as it does not have the fusion-welded joinery that most vinyl windows employ. Although a fusion weld does have several benefits (strength of construction, elimination of fasteners and weather tightness), one cannot argue that the finished look of fiberglass is attractive and wood-like. The construction materials and method of fabrication place vinyl at a slight disadvantage. However, many premium vinyl windows are designed to model wood and partially bridge the aesthetic gap between fiberglass and vinyl.
With so many replacement window choices on the market, it can be daunting task to sort through the options and find the right window for your home and your budget. At Windows on Washington, we advise homeowners to make a wish list for replacement window aesthetics and performance. Once you have your wants and needs laid out, you can more effectively discuss the goals of the project with your contractor, navigate the myriad of options available to balance their value, and avoid being “sold” on a window that is in the best interest of a salesman and not your home.
Windows on Washington can help take the guesswork out of the equation. Contact our experts for a FREE in-home estimate and we will provide you solutions for your home improvement challenges.