If you have been considering upgrading the windows on your Chicagoland home, you have probably been trying to weigh the various pros and cons of vinyl, wood, & fiberglass windows. This can be relatively straightforward if you have the right resources, but if not, windows can get confusing quickly. We’re going to take a look at the most common criteria used to evaluate window materials and see which materials exceed in which categories. In the end, you should be able to make a much more informed decision about your home’s new windows.
Window Comparison – Vinyl, Wood, & Fiberglass
While we won’t be able to cover everything in our list, we will hit the major differences so that you can evaluate the different materials on the most significant points.
When looking at all three, the most expensive window without a doubt is going to be your wood windows. Both vinyl and fiberglass will be cheaper for the materials, and vinyl will be about another 25% cheaper to install than fiberglass. The cost for a single vinyl window, installed, can be as little as $400, while the minimum for an equivalent fiberglass window would be at least $600+. If you are shopping based on price alone, vinyl wins, but fiberglass is a close second.
Strength & Durability
Since fiberglass and vinyl are both manufactured substances and aren’t natural, they are both relatively immune to pests, rot, and so on. In contrast, wood is a favorite target for ants, bees, termites, rot, mildew, and mold. Between vinyl and fiberglass, fiberglass is much stronger as a material type. But be careful of manufacturers’ sales pitches. Not all vinyl windows are created equal, and not all fiberglass windows are created equal. There are many vinyl windows out there that will outperform fiberglass windows. Some companies may try to tell you something like “fiberglass frames are more rigid, and they will not warp or deform with age” but dig deeper and you will often be able to tell for yourself what is a cheap marketing line and what is the truth.
Maintenance is a category that many people don’t think about. Maintenance on vinyl windows is minimal, other than periodic cleaning. Fiberglass will need to be cleaned periodically, and those paint jobs will not be as protective as the baked-on factory coat. Wood windows represent a higher commitment to maintenance, and must be repainted or stained periodically to prevent moisture penetration, which can lead to rotting or warping.
Wood is the most eco-friendly and sustainable material. Beyond that, the next most environmentally conscious material would be fiberglass, which generally contains more than 50% recycled glass. Vinyl windows are PVC, which is generally a larger challenge to recycle.
Wood windows give that old-world charm and unique look that is hard to beat. Fiberglass windows, however, have a cleaner appearance and a larger viewing area. Vinyl windows will look smaller since the frames need to be larger to support the weight, but not to a degree that would obvious to most people. The colors available with vinyl and fiberglass are many, but with vinyl, you’re stuck with the color since they cannot be painted at all.
There are a couple of companies that make glass for most of the larger window manufacturers in the USA. So to decide which window is most thermally efficient, you have to consider the window and sash construction. Which window has the best U-Factor / R-Value (coefficient that indicates which window insulates best)? Which window has the best STC ratings? Wood tends to be a less efficient insulator simply because the newer wood windows don’t have the fiber density of old wood windows.
Time used to be that wood were the only “good” windows. But science has come a lot way over the past several decades. There are vinyl and fiberglass windows that are absolutely as good as many wood windows out there. The most important thing is to ensure that you select a manufacturer that has a track record of excellence and a warranty that they stand behind. It may be hard or even impossible to get a good sense of which manufacturers stand behind their product as some manufacturers’ warranties aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.
Trust A Local Expert To Install Your Home’s New Windows
To that end, when selecting a manufacturer and having windows installed in your Chicagoland home, it’s important to use a trustworthy contractor that is experienced with vinyl, wood, & fiberglass windows, so reach out today to get started and choose the solution that best fits your needs.