Vinyl vs. Fiberglass Windows: What’s the Difference?

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Vinyl and fiberglass windows have a lot in common: both have good insulation properties and are pretty low-maintenance. However, vinyl is typically a more budget-friendly option, while fiberglass is more durable, customizable, and a better insulator.
If it’s time to update your home’s windows, weighing your options can prove difficult. You want your windows to be durable and energy-efficient, but also affordable. Oh, and of course, they need to look good—and stay that way.
So, when it comes to vinyl and fiberglass, what are the key differences? Here’s what you need to know about the key characteristics of vinyl and fiberglass windows, courtesy of Jerry, the insurance broker and comparison app.
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Vinyl windows

In vinyl windows, the main material is extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Some might additionally have metal for internal structural support.

Vinyl costs less than fiberglass

While it generally depends on the project, vinyl windows typically cost 10%-30% less than fiberglass windows, making them a more budget-friendly option.

Vinyl windows don’t need to be repainted

Vinyl windows are a low-maintenance option—one of the reasons being that they don’t need to be repainted. 
Furthermore, painting them isn’t recommended at all since they don’t take on paint well, making them less customizable if you’d want to change them up later on. Still, since vinyl is such a popular option, there are plenty of style and color options available.

Vinyl window installation is more DIY-friendly

While it might not be a project just anyone can tackle, for those who are able, DIY installation of vinyl windows is an easier task than installing fiberglass windows, which can be more difficult to handle and requires specific approaches due to the rigidity of the material. Fiberglass installation is definitely something you want to leave to a professional.
Key Takeaway Vinyl windows are a relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance option.

Fiberglass windows

Fiberglass windows are made with a combination of polyester resins and recycled glass. Because the material is very rigid, having exact measurements ahead of installation is extremely important.  

Fiberglass windows are more durable

Both vinyl and fiberglass are more durable than wood. Compared with each other, though, fiberglass has greater strength and durability than vinyl
Additionally, fiberglass windows typically have fewer issues with warping and seals failing over time than vinyl windows because vinyl is more prone to expanding and contracting during weather extremes. Over time, that can lead to cracking and warping, which leads to degraded insulation ability.
A good vinyl window can still last a while, perhaps up to 30 years, but fiberglass windows can last up to 50 years.

Energy efficiency

Fiberglass is a better insulator than vinyl, and it’s as much as 15% more efficient at doing so. This makes it the superior option when it comes to energy efficiency.
Fiberglass is also a good insulator against sound, too, which can be especially nice if you live in a noisier neighborhood.

Fiberglass offers more decorative options

While vinyl windows do have a variety of color and style options, fiberglass windows offer more aesthetic options than vinyl.
Fiberglass can also be customized to have a natural wood texture and can often come in a wider range of colors. They can also be easily painted if you decide you want to change things up later on.
Since fiberglass is stronger than vinyl, this also means that their frames don’t need as much material, which leaves more space for the window itself, and as a result, lets more natural light into your home.
Key Takeaway Fiberglass windows are known for their strength, durability, and superior insulation qualities. They also tend to be a costlier option compared to vinyl windows.

Which one’s better: vinyl or fiberglass?

This largely depends on personal preference, but vinyl and fiberglass windows do have important distinctions.
Both vinyl and fiberglass windows are low-maintenance options with good insulation quality, durability, and a good return on investment (ROI) if you eventually sell your home. Mold, mildew, dirt, and other debris can easily be cleaned from either one.
Fiberglass windows offer more options for decoration, and they’re also more durable and more energy-efficient. At the same time, they’re also more costly.
Vinyl windows are a good option if you’re on a budget, but still looking for something with good durability and insulation properties.
Fiberglass window installation may be more costly up-front, especially if you’re replacing multiple windows at once, but it could be more cost-effective if you’re already in your forever home.

Does homeowners insurance cover window replacement?

Whether or not your homeowners insurance will cover your window replacement depends on your policy. In most cases, for window replacement to be covered by insurance, the reason has to be due to a named peril in your policy, like fire, vandalism, or hail.
If your window is ready to be replaced due to wear and tear, or you’re simply looking for an upgrade to something more durable or energy-efficient, your homeowners insurance will likely not cover this.
In covered instances, how much your insurance will help you pay for window replacement depends on your deductible. You’ll typically pay up to that amount out of your own pocket, and then your insurance company would reimburse you for the remainder. 
For example, imagine a couple of your windows received some significant damage after a hailstorm, and replacement was going to cost $1,100. If you have a $600 deductible, you would pay that amount out of pocket, and your insurance company would presumably reimburse you for the remaining $500.

Finding affordable home insurance

Taking care of your home’s maintenance and being covered by the right home insurance policy go hand in hand. If you’re looking to update your policy, insurance super app Jerry can help you compare competitive quotes from top insurance providers. 
Jerry can even help you bundle with your car insurance for further savings! Getting started takes less than a minute, and once you’ve found the right policy for you, Jerry can help you set up your new one and cancel your old one.

FAQ

Fiberglass windows can cost 10% to 30% more than vinyl windows. If a vinyl window costs $750 to purchase and install, a comparable fiberglass one could cost $825 to $975.

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