Vinyl vs. Composite Windows: Pros and Cons
As the name denotes, composite windows are a combination of various materials like vinyl, resin, fiberglass, and wood fibers. The founding material is comparable to that used to make your car’s bumper; it’s durable and flexible. Vinyl is a slightly more rigid type of PVC plastic, called uPVC. Its lack of flexibility lends itself to sturdiness.
While both vinyl and composite windows boast similar traits, similar doesn’t mean identical. Let’s compare the nitty-gritty.
Vinyl windows are currently the cheapest available option for window materials, but composite isn’t much more expensive. The cost of installing a single vinyl window can range from $300 to $800, compared to a similar but not-quite-as-low range of $300 to $1,100 for one composite window (both fully installed).
Vinyl alone is undeniably energy efficient, but if built well, composite windows easily rival them. Composite windows usually come with fiberglass insulation, which is thicker and more effective than vinyl alone. Generally speaking, the thicker and more solid the material, the more energy-efficient: solid wood is the most energy-efficient of standard window frame materials. Composite windows are usually manufactured with wood or fiberglass filling, while vinyl windows tend to be filled with foam or other less solid materials. For energy efficiency, the average composite window gains the lead.
To ensure you’re buying an energy-efficient model, look out for labels that state the window is NFRC Certified. On the label, it should also mention the U-Factor (number should be low, between 0.20-1.20), Visible Transmittance (number should be on the higher end between 0-1), Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (low numbers between 0-1), and Air Leakage (less than or equal to 0.3, the lower the better).
Aesthetic and Appearance
Vinyl can be limited when it comes to color. Typically, the color offerings are neutral tones, and vinyl doesn’t lend itself to painting. Composite windows can sometimes offer more colors or the ability to customize.
Both vinyl and composite windows can be customized to fit your home’s style and space. From very small, to very large, single-hung, picture windows, and beyond, both vinyl and composite windows can fit your aesthetic.
Care and Maintenance
Vinyl is easy to care for, which makes it an attractive option. It cleans easily and does not warp, peel, or rot like other materials. Composite boasts the same easy maintenance. The level of care required for both is a tie.
Vinyl is a cost-effective, energy-efficient option for window frames, but is somewhat limited in terms of appearance. Composite window frames are only slightly more expensive than vinyl, generally just as energy-efficient, but offer more aesthetic variety when it comes to color.
Not sure which windows will work best with your home? Contact Jones Paint & Glass for a free, no-obligation on-site estimate. Our window experts will work directly with you to explore your options, designs, and pricing to help find the perfect fit for you.