Compare Vinyl vs Fiberglass Window Costs
An Expert Comparison of Vinyl and Fiberglass Windows
Vinyl Windows Overview
Vinyl window frames are made from a form of plastic called poylvinyl chloride, or PVC. It is the same material commonly used in plumbing pipes. Vinyl was invented after World War II due to a shortage in materials like wood and aluminum, and it has consistently grown in popularity since.
Vinyl window frames are highly energy efficient, saving money on home heating and cooling bills. They’re available in a wide variety of colors, designs and styles to match any style of home. Eco-conscious consumers will be happy to know that they’re also fully recyclable.
How Much Do Vinyl Windows Cost
Vinyl windows are very affordable compared to other types of windows. They usually cost anywhere from $150 to $650 per window, including the cost of installation. Double-pane windows or tilting windows will cost on the higher end of that price range, as will any custom windows.
Vinyl Windows Pros
- Better insulator - Vinyl window frames reduce energy costs by trapping heat inside during the winter and keeping it outside in the summer. They are more energy efficient than fiberglass windows.
- Low cost - Vinyl windows cost significantly less than fiberglass. Generally, expect to spend anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent less.
- Low maintenance - Vinyl windows are virtually maintenance free. They never need to be repainted. They’re also easier and less expensive to install.
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Vinyl Windows Cons
- Strength - Because vinyl windows are not as strong as fiberglass, they don’t last as long. Most manufacturer’s warranties are good for 20 to 30 years.
- Prone to warping - Over time, vinyl window frames will soften, making them susceptible to bowing, bending or warping. This is of particular concern in hot climates.
- Cannot be painted - For some, this is a disadvantage. When the vinyl starts to fade and lose its color, you can’t repaint the frames to freshen the look.
Fiberglass Windows Overview
Fiberglass window frames are made by setting glass fibers into a resin mixture. The composite material that results is strong, sturdy and extremely heat-resistant. Fiberglass windows are not as common as vinyl windows, but they’re a better option for certain climates.
Fiberglass windows are also available in a variety of colors and designs. Often, they’re designed to mimic the look and feel of wood frames. However, they require far less maintenance than real wood.
How Much Do Fiberglass Windows Cost
Fiberglass windows typically cost $300 to $900 each, including the cost of installation. The higher price is largely due to the increased strength fiberglass windows provide. As a general rule, you can purchase a low-end fiberglass window for about the same price as a high-end vinyl window.
Fiberglass Windows Pros
- Strength - Fiberglass window frames are the strongest available. Their lifespan is significantly longer than vinyl window frames.
- Durability - Fiberglass frames will not rot, chip or peel. They’re also not susceptible to warping or bending because fiberglass frames expand and contract at the same rate as the glass that sits inside them. This makes fiberglass windows ideal for hot climates or climates with extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Look - Fiberglass windows are closer to the appearance of wood than vinyl windows.
Fiberglass Windows Cons
- Price - Fiberglass window frames are expensive. In many cases, they cost twice as much as vinyl window frames.
- Maintenance - Fiberglass window frames require more maintenance, particularly due to the fact that they need to be repainted from time to time.