Experience with Fiberglass Windows

chipster_2007November 6, 2007

I am interested in anyone's experience with fiberglass windows. Do they have a failure rate equal to the good vinyl windows? I like the idea that there is more glass in each window and they don't expand/contract like vinyl hopefully insuring a better window seal. The guarantee does not seem to be as long as the vinyl, 20 yrs vs "lifetime". Milguard, Marvin are 2 names that I have run across. Are there any other quality names I should be looking at. One question I have, if they are soooo good, why only the 20 yr warranty vs lifetime for vinyl?

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Hopefully, the pros here will soon chime in. I am a homeowner.

Non-transferrable lifetime warranty is not always a true reflection of a product's quality. For windows and doors, one has to account for how long an original owner lives in a house. Most people I know move out after 7 to 10 years. Some move on in 3 to 5 years. I do not know the national average. In a circumstance like this, with a product (Milgard) that can last 10 years or more, there is little risk to offering a lifetime warranty. Some people (like my household) need at most one service call, most will never call before selling and the buyers are out of luck.

In general, warranty length is not a good gauge of product quality. New car companies and car companies with quality problems often offer lengthy warranty to entice buyers. The same is true of many average products.

Some high quality products do offer warranties lasting significant amount of time but they are normally transferrable from owner to owner.

As for fiberglass windows, I have not first-hand experience, so cannot say much there. There have been posts on this issue here but I do not remember the exact titles, sorry.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Fiberglass windows are superior in every way to both wood and vinyl. They are paintable inside and out, don't warp, rot or bow and require no maintenence. They can be manufactured to accomodate almost any IG unit that can be used in a vinyl window.

So what's the drawback? Price! They tend to be more expensive than a good quality vinyl window so unless you need a specific color inside or out, most will choose the vinyl over fiberglass.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 10:45PM
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I really like fiberglass as a window material. I think that it is a market that is going to contiue to grow in the future - and while I might not be quite as "enthusiastic" as skydawggy in describing them as "superior in every way", I would certainly not disagree with the spirit of his comment ;-)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 7:34AM
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Not real educated about fiberglass. What I do know is that the material cannot be extruded in manufacturing and all joints must be mechanically fastened. Therefore these joints and windows could weaken over time. Color also cannot be thermally bonded to the surface so will you have to paint them in the future? Hope this helps, Tim

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 8:39AM
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Chip - my answer isn't on fiberglass windows. I tried to answer your other questions on Plygem vs the Uniframe but the board swallowed my reply! Anyway, I'm no expert, just another consumer like yourself. Great Lakes makes several lines of windows - Uniframe, PlyGems, Seabrooke and a couple others. It seems like the PlyGem is the next step down from their Uniframe but worth taking a look at - double pane or triple pane packages are available and it uses Argon instead of Krypton but that difference may not be worth paying for. Anyway, the main advantage for us seems to be that many more dealers offer PlyGems and their other lines - which should make the prices more competitive - while only Penguin does the Uniframe in this area. You can find out more info on these windows at:

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 1:00PM
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Fiberglass is stronger than vinyl. The warranty figures are a marketing ploy and limited lifetime but then read the fine print about how faast certain things move out of warranty. Pella is now making a fiberglass window the Impervia which is an excellant window while they do not have tha available features of a wood or clad window hey are a good basic window. They are also more environmentally friendly than vinyl as vinyl is plastic uses a peroleum based process to make and then cntinually outgass during their life releaseing vapors that can be harmful

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 6:55PM
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The purported fiberglass benefits mean nothing if the windows leak. Please read the thread on one homeowners experience with Comfort Line Windows. It is an eye-opener!!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 11:22PM
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Thanks sandsonik. After the salesmen realized that I wasn't going to purchase the uniframe windows at that price, they showed me the Seabrooke, s double pane, argon filled window for 3,000 less for the job ($23,000 for 19 dh windows.) It didn't look to be half the window as the uniframe. I am looking into the grandview 4000 and 5000 but I am not sure. I want to make the best decision but there is so much to consider. One thing I am sure of, I don't want to run into any problems after all this research.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 8:06AM
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Folks, please consider a few facts before purchasing a fiberglass window....I've worked in the Fiberglass industry for years and I know where some problems are regarding using it as a framing material for windows.
#1 if you don't like maintenance, it's not a great product, because it has to be painted...think about boats and the gel gloss coatings, even in the sun for a few months out of the year it begins to crack and degrade in ultraviolet #2 IT IS NOT A GREEN PRODUCT...where i work (in a pultrusion factory) the workers look like spacemen, as fiberglass is on the OSHA hazard list. #3 it cannot be welded at the corners, leading to air and water infiltration and #4, it smells....no way around that one, it does smell when it gets warm, off gassing and VOCs come from this product. Not something I would want in my home with my children around it. Just basic FACTUAL information people tend to forget about fiberglass...think about it, why did Owens Corning nix the idea for an all fiberglass window??? hmmm hope this helps some

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 11:53AM
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Please disregard the notes posted by bobbyc234 as it is probably the most inaccurate blog I have ever read. I will address his issues one by one and challenge him to respond

Maintenance: Painted is better, plain and simple. They do this with cars and everything else. Paint is is pigment and solvent, once the solvent evaporates you have a 100% coating over the fiberglass. Vinyl surface is very shinny because it has to repel the suns rays but eventually fades and yellows. Fiberglass does not crack because the paint not only sticks to the frame but also imbeds itself into the porous substrate. Fiberglass windows give a lifetime warrantyon their paint where most vinyl companies give a maximum of 12 years...

All manufacturing process is dirty regards of material. Fiberglass uses recycled material(bottles and lightbulbs) unlike virgin vinyl. The lifecycle is anywhere from 2-3 longer and is less likely in the landfill. Once in a landfill vinyl leaches into the ground and into our water. In 2007, a fiberglass window was the ONLY window named to the Green Building Councils Top 10 List. Of all the green products out there, it was Top 10!

Welded corners is not a problem. How can you get such high performance ratings with leaking corners??? Also fiberglass windows go into high commercial projects where the environment is multiplied. If that was the case, all fiberglass window companies would be out of business. However, it is currently the opposites. Almost every major window company has recently added it or will be adding it.

Fiberglass is a thermoset, an irreversible process. Once in the final state the material is inert. Does not offgas, weaken and virtually does not expand. It is 60% glass. Vinyl is a thermoplastic which does expand and contract 7 times more, offgasses and bends and twists when energy(heat and cold) is aplied. If vinyl catches fire, it is one of the most toxic/poisonous gasses known to mankind. Please research this.

Finally Owens Corning overdesigned the most expensive and underperforming window. The engineering was terrible not the material. Btw they will be launching a new fiberglass window in the next couple of months.

The one question I have to ask is that if you wouldn't put the window in your house. Why did you work in the fiberglass industry where the exposure was at least 10 times worse.

Please do not listen to bobbyc234, he is not being truthful. Contact you local dealer for more information.

I hope this clears up his misconceptions.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 12:31PM
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The post by Bobby g234 above is way off the mark. Pultruded fiberglass is probably the ultimate material for windows. Pultrusion is a process where the fiberglass fabric is saturated with resin and pulled thru a die, producing an extremely strong, stable, and accurate profile that can be cut to length and assembled into almost anything. Joints are reinforced with more fiberglass and resin, making them far stronger than wood and aluminum. "Welded" vinyl has almost no structural strength. That fiberglass frames can be painted is a big PLUS; look at the many homes whose appearance has been ruined by ugly unpaintable vinyl windows. Fiberglass boats (and Corvettes) made over fifty years ago are still in daily service, looking great. And that was the "pioneer" days of fiberglass and resins. Today's fiberglass materials are even more amazing. Fiberglass windows will last hundreds of years with no maintenance.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 3:39PM
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I had 9 windows replaced with Pella Impervia double pane windows. The installers were rude and unconsidered, cutting tile with dust inside my house with the fine dust going all over. No protective plastic to control the dust. The stucco damage repair was so noticeable they had to come 3 times to do it and still it is noticeable. Some windows donÂt look straight to me. Because I have a highway close by and the ocean, there is a noise that I never noticed before that is driving me crazy. It is a reverberation created by the double pane Pella Impervia window. The result is a noise that reverberates inside the window, changes frequencies and gets into the room creating a noise like the one you hear when you put a seashell to your ear. It is driving me crazy. With my old aluminum single pane window there was a little bit more noise, but a noise I could live with, not this reverberation noise that is driving me crazy. Pella doesnÂt return my calls or give me any solutions. I am wondering if replacing one of the panes with laminated safety glass, with PVB, polyvinyl butyral, that is used in cars and reduces transmission of high frequency sound. I contacted Pella several times, they listen, but they never called back. My neighbor next door doesnÂt have the noise in their Milgard double pane vinyl windows. Anybody knows how to solve this problem? Maybe I will end up replacing all the windows again. I paid $19,000.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 11:57AM
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Pella just installed (3 months ago) 13 Impervia tempered double pane windows, all 10' high. I am fortunate enough to live near a Pella distributor and had Pella installers. They were wonderful. My experience was just the opposite of Ignacio's. However, 4 of the 13 leaked. I called the distributor during the rainstorm and within 30 minutes a trouble-shooter was at the door, It did not take him 15 minutes to say the windows were properly installed, but they suffered from POOR QUALITY CONTROL. Pella was completely responsive and supportative. The custom windows were ordered and have been replaced. We since have had a 40mph wind/rain storm and all windows performed perfectly.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 12:55PM
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Glad to hear that you are getting good service. If you could go back in time, would you make the same choice?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 1:22PM
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30% is a high rate of "poor quality control" if you were to ask me!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 2:49PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Keep us posted on how the fix turns out.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 3:25PM
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HomeSealed, Yes, I probably would go with the same windows. I love the way they look. They were subjected to a 40mph wind with rain condition since the re-install and I had no leaks. In fact, now, on the front of the house, I have 4 more old aluminum windows that are leaking. I have a rep. from a small, local, well established and reputable company coming out this morning. He will try to sell me on Home Craftsman vinyl windows. Does anyone have any thoughts on those? I still will give Pella a shot IF it fits in with remainder of my budget.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:45AM
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I would never recommend HC. While the narrow frames are attractive, they are very flimsy, plus the pocket sill is a poor design.

Sunrise has dealers in DFW for a better quality vinyl window. If you're wanting a mid-grade quality product look at NT or Simonton.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:15PM
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