Q – We want to install the very best replacement windows available. I am willing to pay extra for quality. What do you think of new fiberglass windows as compared to vinyl and will they block road noise?-Marshall G.
A – If you want the very best windows, fiberglass windows are clearly the choice you should make. Twenty years from now, your fiberglass windows will respond as if they were new. Also, by selecting low-e (low-emissivity) glass, curtain and furniture fading will be greatly reduced.
In addition to your utility bills savings, you will definitely notice the reduced noise from outdoors. The fiberglass itself tends to deaden noise and the quality airtight seals are effective sound barriers. By selecting optional inert gas (argon or krypton) filled glass, even more noise is blocked.
Even though fiberglass windows cost a little more initially than vinyl or aluminum windows, they are the best long-term investment. This is because they will never need to be replaced again and they will seldom need caulk or paint. They remain airtight and, with their high insulation value, your co-op electric bills will be lower and your comfort better.
With the extreme strength of fiberglass, narrower window frames can be used without sacrificing rigidity. This provides room for more glass area and a larger clear-view area than with older windows. In the winter, this is a real plus if you want free passive solar heating and natural lighting.
My favorite fiberglass window designs have natural wood interiors. From indoors, they have a rich elegant look, yet the outdoor fiberglass portion is maintenance-free. The super-strong fiberglass exterior provides the strength and stability to resist gale-force winds and driving rains.
Fiberglass replacement windows are available in many decorator colors. Since fiberglass resists high temperatures, durable paint can be baked on. Unlike vinyl windows, fiberglass frames can be painted anytime you decide to change the decor of just one room or your entire house.
Another key advantage of the fiberglass frame material is that it expands with temperature changes at almost the identical rate as the window glass. This results in a consistently airtight fit no matter what the season or time of day. In contrast, vinyl expands about seven times more than glass, and aluminum expands about twice as much as glass.
Fiberglass windows are tops in energy efficiency. Many of the fiberglass window frames offer optional foam insulation filling (up to R-10). This is more effective than insulated vinyl frames because the strength of fiberglass does not require all the interior webs in vinyl frames.
Since glass comprises the majority of the total window opening area, it has a great impact on the overall window efficiency. At the minimum, select dual-pane, low-e glass. Any of the frame styles that use compression-type seals, like awning, hopper, casement, etc., are generally the most efficient.
As with custom-sized vinyl windows, installing fiberglass windows is not difficult for do-it-yourselfers. Measure your windows carefully (all the manufacturers have detailed measuring instructions) and order the windows. No detailed fitting will be needed to install them.