Vinyl vs. Composite Windows: Which Is Better?

Posted by WD Showplace on Jul 31, 2021 7:45:00 AM
WD Showplace

When it comes to the biggest bang for your home investing buck, few renovations and upgrades can compete with new windows. New windows will improve your home’s curb appeal, not to mention make it more energy efficient. This way, you'll not only boost the value of your property, but you'll also cut down on your heating and cooling bills throughout the rest of the year. It's a win-win investment.

vinyl vs composite windows

However, you might be stuck on what kind of window materials you should choose. When making a window material comparison, you'll discover vinyl and composite are the two most commonly offered types of windows. But what is the best material for window replacement in northern Virginia? Here is what you need to know about the two to help you decide.


What Is the Difference Between Vinyl and Composite Windows?


What is a Vinyl Window?

Vinyl windows have been around for some time now and are widely used. Vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a type of plastic that is inexpensive and requires very little maintenance. The PVC material is melted and molded into shape around a metal core to create window frames. However, homeowners are looking for more environmentally friendly materials that can withstand more extreme temperature changes.


What is a Composite Window?

As for composite windows, there are a few different kinds, with thermoset fiberglass composite being the most beneficial material for window frames. These composites are made by heating glass at very high temperatures and pulling it through a die to create fine fibers, then incorporating resin to create a new material that’s stable in extreme temperatures, is durable, and energy efficient. This material is so strong it’s used to create things like canoes and car bumpers.  


Which Is Better: Composite Windows or Vinyl Windows?

Both materials offer benefits, but we’re going to break down how each material performs in important factors you should consider when deciding which type of replacement window to choose for your home. 


Both vinyl and composite windows are more durable than wood because they’re resistant to rot and insects. However, in very cold temperatures, vinyl will expand and contract, causing them to crack. Because of how composite windows are made and what they’re made from, they are a more rigid material and will hold their shape, giving them a longer lifespan. Vinyl will need to be replaced in about 30 years, whereas fiberglass composite windows can last 50 years. 

Because vinyl loses its shape over time, this causes seals to break or become ineffective. A misshapen window frame can also put stress on glass causing the pane to break. 

Energy Efficiency

Composite windows easily provide more energy efficiency than vinyl windows. Vinyl windows tend to transmit heat and cold, affecting the temperature indoors. When you choose composite windows, you’re helping your heating and cooling systems work less, reducing the energy you use and your utility bills. Along with double or triple panes, your fiberglass composite windows could save you more than you think per month. 


Vinyl windows are known for their economic advantage, costing anywhere from 10% to 30% less than fiberglass composite windows, including installation. The lower price does come at a higher price in other ways, however, like in energy efficiency and needing to replace them sooner. 


If the appearance of your windows is a major factor for you (think curb appeal), then vinyl windows take a backseat to composite windows for many styles of home. Vinyl windows come in far less style options than composite windows. Composite windows are available in more colors and even come in wood grain textures on the interior side of the window. Because the material is more durable, it’s also available in thinner widths, so they’ll have a more sophisticated look. 


Are Composite Windows Better Than Vinyl?

Fiberglass composite windows outperform vinyl windows in every category but one, which is cost. If this is your biggest deciding factor, you’ll be sacrificing a longer lifespan, energy efficiency, and possibly appearance. If you’re not sure if fiberglass composite windows will fit within your budget, speak with a window installation expert to do an assessment and talk about your options. 


We Can Help!

New replacement windows will almost always improve your curb appeal and energy efficiency, especially if your windows are decades old and bring down the look of your home. To learn more about your window options, to ask questions, and discuss what will fit within your budget, contact Window and Door Showplace. We have the experience you’ll need when replacing your windows as well as three showrooms in Northern Virginia to see samples of some of the best choices on the market today. Schedule a consultation and we’d be happy to answer all of your questions about the process and what new windows can do for your home. 


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Topics: Windows

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