All window materials have their own unique advantages. But does one material stand above the rest? To answer that, let’s look at the four most popular types of windows in the Central VA area: vinyl, fiberglass, wood, and wood-vinyl composite.
(For a cost analysis and comparison of different materials, visit our Window Prices page.)
There’s no doubt about it: Wood windows can look positively stunning. They have an elegance that’s all their own, which makes them a great choice for historic homes that require genuine wood windows.
But their beauty comes at a cost.
Wood is the most expensive window material. It can be more than twice the cost of a vinyl window that has superior efficiency and performance. Expect to pay a MINIMUM of $1,000 for a quality wood window.
Wood also requires more upkeep than other window materials. Regular painting, scraping, and maintenance are a must to maintain a wood window’s looks and structural integrity. If neglected, a wood window can quickly become prone to rotting, warping, and bug infestation.
Fiberglass is a strong window material that can accurately reproduce the look of wood when it’s properly finished. Though fiberglass windows don’t need the same amount of upkeep as wood windows, they do require painting for that finished appearance.
In terms of energy efficiency, fiberglass windows are solid performers. Due to their added resistance to expansion and contraction, fiberglass windows have a small leg up on wood windows.
Fiberglass frames, however, aren’t as airtight as vinyl frames. Vinyl frames have corners that are fusion-welded; fiberglass frames are screwed together. This can create gaps in the corners over time, which can lead to air leaks.
Fiberglass is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. For a quality fiberglass window, you’re looking at $850 to $1,000+. That’s a little less expensive than a quality wood window, and about 30% to 40% more than premium vinyl windows.
Vinyl-clad windows are made of wood and have an exterior clad in vinyl. The idea is to combine the best of both worlds—the efficiency of vinyl and the beauty of wood.
Wood-vinyl composite windows do, however, come with a hefty price tag. They’re exceptionally expensive ($1,000 to $1,400 per window). That’s basically on par with the ultra-high cost of wood.
But unlike authentic wood windows, the wood in vinyl-clad windows consists of reclaimed sawdust. The company takes leftover wood fibers from their manufacturing processes and uses them to create the frame.
Since many premium modern vinyl windows come with beautiful woodgrain interior options, some homeowners opt for vinyl over composite due to costs. After all, both windows contain the performance of a vinyl exterior with the appearance of wood on the interior… but vinyl does so at a much lower cost and typically with longer warranties.
Vinyl is the most popular window material because it tends to pack the most “bang” for your buck.
High-quality vinyl windows are made with virgin vinyl and reinforced for maximum durability. Fusion-welded frames ensure no gaps and air leaks. Baked-in colors eliminate the need for painting. And woodgrain interiors options can elevate your home’s looks.
One thing that homeowners really love about vinyl is how low maintenance it is. You don’t have to paint vinyl windows, and vinyl does not chip or rot. The only upkeep required is the occasional cleaning.
Vinyl’s biggest drawback is how much different brands fluctuate in quality. Simply stated, some vinyl windows are junk. These are the vinyl windows companies advertise ultra-cheap, “too-good-to-be-true” prices between $200 and $300.
Fortunately, there are ways to tell a quality vinyl window from a bad one:
Looks: Does the window have a “boxy” or “plastic” appearance? If so, it’s likely made with cheap vinyl materials.
Energy Efficiency: Check the NFRC label on the window to see how efficient it is (View our Window Energy Efficiency page to see how to read this label). If the window doesn’t have an NFRC label? Avoid it at all costs—it is not ENERGY STAR certified.
Price: It’s virtually impossible to get a QUALITY vinyl window for less than $550 (installed and trimmed). View our Window Prices page to discover how much the highest-quality vinyl windows actually cost.
That depends on YOUR specific needs.
Do you own a historic home? If so, wood windows may be your best choice.
Want the look of wood without the maintenance? Fiberglass could be right for you.
Searching for a low-maintenance window that delivers the most value for your money? You can’t go wrong with premium vinyl.
While there is no clear-cut “winner,” we do find that high-quality vinyl windows are the best solution for homeowners the most often. They tick all the boxes on many homeowners’ wish lists:
To see if OUR high-quality vinyl windows are right for you, explore our Window Types & Features page. You can also Buy Directly Online or schedule a 6-minute appointment via virtual consultation, phone call, or in-home meeting.
If you choose an appointment, we won’t subject you to a hype-filled sales pitch. And we won’t try to sell you on anything you don’t want or need.
We’ll simply present you with facts about our windows and an ironclad price. Then we’ll step back and let YOU decide how to proceed.
No pressure. No games. No nonsense.
That’s a promise.
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