Trying to decide whether to go for the classic low-cost (but not low-quality) option of vinyl or spend a bit more on fiberglass for your Wisconsin home? If you’re not immediately fixated on the aesthetics of one or the other, it can be surprisingly difficult to decide between these two materials.
Unlike wood or aluminum windows, vinyl and fiberglass have a lot in common, with similar strengths and versatility. So, let’s take a look at what makes vinyl windows unique, what makes fiberglass windows unique, and what should encourage you to choose one or the other for your home — keeping in mind that “vinyl” and “fiberglass” can both encompass many different levels of quality, variations on the basic material, etc.
Vinyl windows are windows where the non-glass portions are made from high-quality PVC (polyvinyl chloride) — the same plastic as white PVC pipes, though, of course, it looks different here.
Because vinyl is a plastic product, you can make windows to fit any opening and get them in nearly any style without much trouble. If you get vinyl windows in the color you desire, they’ll never need to be repainted — and if you want, you can get them patterned to look like windows of another material, like aluminum or wood, without the headaches those materials bring.
Vinyl windows sometimes get looked down on because they’re the budget option for windows, but high-quality vinyl windows can stand up to comparison against other high-end windows without lacking in the slightest. Plus, they don’t need the intense maintenance something like wood or aluminum requires to stay in good condition.
On paper, fiberglass windows probably stand out as the “best” quality windows; strong, stable, and durable, you can expect good fiberglass windows to outlast other materials while still not needing much maintenance.
Like vinyl windows, fiberglass windows can be made to fit nearly any style or opening size, even uncommon or wholly unique ones. They similarly have a huge variety of aesthetic possibilities, including unique finishes that are distinctly “fiberglass,” imitations of other materials such as wood patterns, and simple colored or painted styles.
Fiberglass won’t rot, rust, or warp, and it’s quite strong and durable; thus, there’s not too much risk of cracking compared to other materials. You will pay more for fiberglass windows than vinyl windows of comparable quality, and whether the benefits of fiberglass make up for that price difference is as much a matter of personal preference and luck as it is anything intrinsic to the materials.
There are two other common materials for windows — although they’re increasingly less common due to their drawbacks.
Wood windows have long been the standard, but the amount of labor involved in properly maintaining them, the difficulties involved in getting windows to match less-common measurements, poorer seals, and higher risk of damage from the elements all make wood popular only for the aesthetic — which vanishes under paint and can be emulated with vinyl or vinyl-wood composites for better and cheaper results.
Aluminum windows have significant problems as insulators and aren’t particularly interesting looking. Even well-insulated aluminum windows will naturally conduct the temperature of the outdoors through their metal portions, and many allow condensation to form on their structure on the inside.
Add in susceptibility to corrosion, and you can understand why vinyl and fiberglass have risen to take the place of aluminum.
Fiberglass and vinyl both have their place in modern Wisconsin homes, offering similar versatility, resilience, and simplicity to maintain. Fiberglass might have the edge on pure stats, but vinyl can achieve most of the same results at a lower price. It comes down to whether you need the absolute best option money can buy or want good quality at the most efficient price.
Call the window experts at Zen Windows Milwaukee today at 414-881-9361 to learn more about the differences between fiberglass and vinyl windows or to request a quote.