We ask a lot of our windows. We expect them to usher in light and fresh air when open, and to keep out the wet, the cold, and the heat when closed. And we expect them to function well for decades. Wood has been doing the job for centuries, but even with a low-maintenance exterior cladding, it swells and shrinks with temperature swings, undermining longevity. Vinyl windows do away with upkeep issues, but the floppy material must be made into chunky profiles that reduce the amount of glass, and it loses resiliency as it gets older, not a hallmark of durability.
Fiberglass doesn’t have these shortcomings. It’s stiffer and lighter than wood, as low-maintenance as vinyl, and unaffected by water or temperature fluctuations. While early fiberglass models had some limitations, improvements in manufacturing have resolved the issues of the past.
“Fifteen years ago, fiberglass windows were available only in limited sizes, turned chalky from sun exposure, and came in just one color—white,” says Matt Risinger, a builder based in Austin, Texas, with more than 20 years’ experience. Today you get custom sizes, durable UV-blocking coatings, a wider color selection, and even the option of a wood interior. “With all these windows have to offer, at such a reasonable price, they’re hard to beat,” Risinger says.
Shown: These traditional-looking fiberglass windows feature wood interiors that have been painted to match the rest of this white kitchen.
Integrity Wood-Ultrex Double Hungs, Marvin
Continue for a look at how fiberglass windows are made and the ways they can light up a house, inside and out.