The Differences Between Vinyl, Wood, Composite, Fiberglass and Aluminum Replacement Windows

There are quite a few differences in window materials and how they perform in your home

There are quite a few differences in window materials and how they perform in your home.

When shopping for replacement windows the choices can be overwhelming. ‘Wood gives my home more character, but I heard that vinyl is also durable and low-maintenance.’

The bottom line is you want your new window purchase to last. There are many factors that play into this including the installation process. You can buy the best window on the market, but if it’s not installed properly, you’ll find yourself replacing them again in just a few short years.

In reality, if you purchase the right window, you shouldn’t have to buy another replacement. We’re going to break down the standard 5 choices — vinyl, wood, composite, fiberglass and aluminum.

Vinyl Windows Pros and Cons

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance replacement window, look no further than vinyl. Unlike wood windows, which may look nice when initially installed, but over time, can rot and deteriorate if not taken care of thanks to Mother Nature’s natural elements, vinyl holds strong year after year because it’s made from a plastic material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), that won’t rust, corrode or separate.

If you’re seeking that classic wood look, vinyl windows can be manufactured to mirror that with simulated wood grain interiors. There’s also an abundance of styles, sizes and exterior colors to choose from.

Are your monthly utility bills making you cry? Vinyl sash and frame corners are airtight, which keeps the cold air out, the heat in and vice versa in the summer, so your heating and cooling units won’t constantly run.

The best part about vinyl windows is that they’re nearly maintenance-free. You won’t have to retouch them with paint or stain and soap and water will do the trick for a good cleaning, not causing any damage.

When it comes to cost, vinyl windows are the biggest bang for your buck. They are built to last — if installed properly — and are inexpensive when compared to the other options. This doesn’t mean you’re getting an inferior product, however, be careful because not all vinyl windows are the same quality.

If curb appeal is important to you, they aren’t the sexiest, but again, what’s more important? As long as your home doesn’t look like a prison or haunted house, you’ll survive.

Here at The Men With Tools Home Remodeling, we proudly carry Soft-Lite windows, which is one of the best vinyl replacement windows on the market, and unlike other manufacturers, Soft-Lite carries an easy-to-understand lifetime warranty.

Wood Windows Pros and Cons

Wood windows are like a sports car — charming and polished when first purchased — but if you don’t keep up with the maintenance, over time, they can easily turn into a rotten piece of junk.

Why a lot of people like wood windows is not only for their classy good looks, but for their durability — they’re solid. Another benefit is wood doesn’t attract condensation. If you like to cook a lot or boil, you shouldn’t have to worry about moisture building up on the glass.

Wood is one of the best materials for insulation, if installed properly. There are many old wood windows that are drafty because of shoddy installation and/or not being maintained.

But unlike vinyl, wood needs touchups in paint, stain and weather barrier coatings due to exposure of the natural elements. Wood also has a high tendency to warp, expand, contract and rot if not properly treated. If you live near a coastline, wood windows are the worst option because of the salt in the air. People tend to forget wood is still a living object even after being cut down from a tree — it absorbs the moisture in the air like a sponge.

Ever have a problem with termites? These guys will love eating away at your delicious wood windows. You shouldn’t have to worry as long as you maintain the paint, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.

If cost is an important factor, you’ll find yourself paying a pretty penny. At the same time, wood doesn’t rust and can last you a lifetime, but back to our sports car analogy, it’s all about the maintenance.

We carry Andersen windows, which are built with a vinyl exterior clad to resist water and seal out the elements. There are an array of exterior colors to choose from and 4 interior, which include white, black, dark bronze and pine. Best of all, it carries a solid warranty, including glass protection for 20 years.

Composite - Fiberglass Windows Pros and Cons

Composite or fiberglass materials are the newest option in the replacement window market.  They’re made from materials similar to car bumpers and are heavy duty, durable and meant to last. However these windows typically carry a high price tag, similar to wood windows.

They come with the same options that most vinyl windows come with like interior wood grain and custom exterior colors and boast similar energy efficiency ratings as most vinyl windows.

Composite and fiberglass windows can be painted to suit your tastes unlike vinyl and are just as maintenance free. If you’re looking for a natural looking window with high performance ratings, and have the extra money to spend, then a composite or fiberglass window is a great choice for any home on Staten Island.

Here at The Men With Tools Home Remodeling, we carry a Paragon composite window, which is one of the best composite windows on the market, and just like our vinyl windows, it carries an easy-to-understand lifetime warranty.

Aluminum Windows Pros and Cons

Are you a victim of old aluminum windows? We feel for you. Aluminum windows built from the 1960’s to 1980’s and earlier are the worst. Their cheap quality is prone to drafts, rust and corroding and makes you think all aluminum windows are like this.

That’s not entirely true. Aluminum windows manufactured now aren’t as poor — They’re a lot stronger and can last if properly taken care of. The drawback is they come with a steeper price tag compared to vinyl, but they are less expensive than wood.

Like vinyl, aluminum windows are also low-maintenance, which gives them a good selling point. However, if energy-efficiency is high on your priority-list, look elsewhere as aluminum naturally conducts a lot of heat and is bone chilling during the winter making it a poor choice for our customers that live in the northeast.

Aluminum isn’t prone to warping, but it can eventually corrode, especially if you live in a coastal environment. To lessen the risk, you can buy corrosion-resistant paint.

When it comes to deciding which replacement window is best for you make a checklist of what matters and write a pro and con list. Also, do your homework on the window contractor. Are they offering deep discounts, pressuring you and won’t take no for an answer? Chances are they are ripping you off and also giving you a mediocre installation experience.

Are you in the market for replacement windows? Check out The Men With Tools on Staten Island, NY who will give you a high quality vinyl, wood or composite window at a great price. Call us today at 347-815-4151 for a free estimate.

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