Replacement windows are a big undertaking, so it’s perfectly natural for Florida homeowners to want a product that will last as long as possible. Nowadays, there’s no shortage of options – wood, metal, fiberglass, and vinyl windows are four of the most popular, but which ones will stand the test of time? And just as importantly, which ones will require the least amount of upkeep? After all, most homeowners would rather not spend a significant number of hours on maintenance just to extend the life of their windows for a year or two.
Vinyl vs. Wood Windows
First, it’s important to remember that the life expectancy of your new windows will not only depend on what they’re made from, but also the type of weather conditions they’re subjected to. Since Florida has hot, humid summers, mild winters, and frequently turbulent weather, including tropical storms and hurricanes, windows here have to withstand a lot. In our semi-tropical climate, vinyl windows are the best choice for homeowners who want to get the most longevity out of their investment. Unlike wood, vinyl is impervious to moisture and insect damage, so you will never need to worry about it swelling, warping, rotting, or becoming a meal for hungry termites. What’s more, the color in vinyl windows is either baked on or infused throughout the frame, so you’ll never need to repaint or re-stain them. Homeowners can expect 40 or 50 years of dependable performance from high-end vinyl windows. How does that compare to wood-framed windows? With proper maintenance that includes periodic resealing and re-staining, you should expect these types of windows to last about 30 years.
Vinyl vs. Metal Windows
How do vinyl windows do when compared to metal windows? If they’re standard metal windows, very well indeed. Although aluminum doesn’t rot or rust, it is thermally conductive, so heat can easily transfer between the outside and inside of the frame. This makes metal windows less energy efficient than their vinyl counterparts. Aluminum windows are also more vulnerable to dings and dents, which can break the seal between the frame and the pane, further reducing thermal performance. Because of this, the life expectancy of standard metal windows is between 15 and 20 years.
High-performance aluminum windows are a different story. Manufacturers like PGT offer premium aluminum windows that meet or exceed the International Building Code for air infiltration, water resistance, deglazing, forced-entry, and structural integrity. Extruded aluminum frames are more impact resistant than their standard aluminum counterparts. In fact, PGT aluminum windows boast both a Miami-Dated Notice of Acceptance and a Florida Product Approval rating, making them a good alternative to vinyl for homes with more modern stylings. They’re also a popular choice for light commercial properties.
Vinyl vs. Fiberglass
Fiberglass windows have become increasingly popular in recent decades. The durability of fiberglass is comparable to vinyl, so you can expect to get the same number of serviceable years from both. The big difference is cost. Fiberglass windows are more expensive than vinyl, and many brands offer fewer options than you would get from a reputable vinyl window manufacturer. There are also fewer color options with fiberglass. Lastly, fiberglass windows are mechanically fastened to window openings, which makes them more vulnerable to leaks if the sealant isn’t applied with precision. If you opt for fiberglass windows, make sure the company you choose for the installation has the experience to do the job right.
At The Window Depot, we are the home improvement experts in the Tampa Bay area. If you need replacement windows, we offer vinyl and aluminum windows from top manufacturers Simonton and PGT. All of the products we offer will provide decades of beauty and dependable performance. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services, including financing options for qualified customers. You can also drop by our showroom in Palm Harbor to view our windows firsthand.