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Marvin Ultimate Picture Windows, French Inswing Doors with oil rubbed bronze hardware, and above transoms with simulated divided lite grilles

ON THIS PAGE: Fiberglass  |  PVC(Vinyl)  |  Wood  |  Composite


Fiberglass is a durable and long lasting window framing material that can be painted. Fiberglass provides the strongest window material – about 3 times stronger than aluminum and about 9 times stronger than vinyl. Fiberglass window frames are produced similarly to vinyl, however where vinyl is extruded (or pushed) through a form to process, fiberglass is pultruded (or pulled) to create the similar form. Fiberglass frames use less mass in manufacturing, leading to a lower conductivity and thereby higher energy efficiency. The low embodied energy and long life of the windows also contributes to increased efficiency over the life of the window. Fiberglass essentially does not conduct heat or cold, increasing efficiency. Quality fiberglass frames are composed of at least 60% glass, an easily recyclable material. The high glass content makes for a very tough product. It also means the expansion and contraction rates of both the window panes and the frames are similar, increasing the life of the window unit’s seals and materials.

Installation is made easier by the fact that with fiberglass frames, the frames do not twist or warp during installation. This ensures the frames stay square — a common problem during installation with other types. The greatest drawback is likely to be the premium pricing which is around 10-30% above a mid-grade vinyl product. As efficiencies grow in the industry this premium is expected to decrease, making it a more competitive choice. As the competition heats up, the alternatives will become more readily available. Fiberglass windows are maintenance-free. They are fully factory finished with an unlimited selection of colors and they will never warp, splinter, crack, or corrode. The big drawback to fiberglass has always been its inability to compete with wood. However, the game has changed and fiberglass is here to stay. Now, some of the biggest fiberglass manufacturers including Marvin, InLine, and Milgard are offering real wood interiors. These interiors can be painted or stained and the end result is a direct replica of a true wood window.

Wondering if fiberglass is a good choice for your replacement windows? Consider this: boats, bridges, cars, and trucks are all built from this high performance material. No other material is as strong, as durable, as weather resistant, or lasts as long as fiberglass.

Fiberglass is:

  • Stronger: It is 9x stronger than vinyl, 3.5x stronger than wood/vinyl composites and 2x stronger than aluminum.
  • More Energy Efficient: Less thermal conductibility than aluminum (500x less), so it doesn't allow heat or cold from the outside into your home.
  • Longer Lasting: Almost zero thermal expansion rate (essentially the same rate as glass) means tighter seals against weather and longer lasting. Vinyl expands at over 7x this rate.
  • Lower Maintenance: Virtually maintenance-free frames stay true to form due to strength of materials. No need for sanding, painting, or staining.
  • Environmentally friendly: less energy and resources to manufacture. Made from partially recycled materials.
  • More Durable: Won't discolor, warp, rot, corrode, dent, or rust. Can withstand winds up to 203 mph, and does not absorb moisture.
  • Slimmer in profile: Because of the strength of the fiberglass, the frames are slimmer allowing more visible glass area in each window.
  • Unlimited in Design Possibilities: Offered in virtually unlimited colors and an interior wood veneer.

View the line of products available within each of the brands we carry:

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PVC (Vinyl)

Vinyl replacement windows are an excellent choice for homeowners looking for energy efficient and most importantly, maintenance free windows. Windows, manufactured from vinyl, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are the most prevalent material in use today and represent the largest market share in the replacement window industry. Vinyl has become a viable rival for traditional materials such as wood over the years. It has proven to be comparable to wood, if not more efficient in many cases, in the use of windows and doors, and offers design flexibility, minimal maintenance, and efficiency in energy and cost savings.

After World War II, there was a shortage of materials like wood, aluminum and steel, so the Germans, in their efforts to rebuild, began to use a vinyl framing, which was a new thermoplastic. By 1959, BF Goodrich Company, a vinyl resin manufacturer decided to try their hand at vinyl window production, and offered sleek designs similar to that found in wood or metal window frames. Americans found that these were much more readily acceptable designs, compared to that of the smaller and bulkier German designs.

Designs improved and popularity grew; sales of vinyl grew in the 1980s and ‘90s for both new construction and remodeling by over 125%. Most window manufacturers offer vinyl windows as an option along with their more traditional wooden and metal frames. Innovations in vinyl formulas have helped to improve flexibility in designs.

With improvements having been made over the last few decades to the manufacturing process of vinyl windows, maintenance is practically non-existent and non-essential. If the product requires a bit of cleaning, common household cleaners will make short work of the task, leaving the window as good as new. The average life span of a vinyl window varies depending on the use of the item, but on average warranties are offered for 20 to 30 years. To ensure the quality of the window's construction and performance, most vinyl windows produced today are certified by a third-party entity like AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturing Association) or the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) . Independent laboratory testing is performed in accordance with stringent industry standards. Vinyl windows are not only rot and rust free, but they are impervious to insect pests like ants and termites. When made properly, vinyl windows contain UV inhibitors to protect from sun damage and cracking or splitting.

Over the years foil laminates of vinyl windows has gained traction and become a major benefit to their overall appeal. Now, most vinyl window manufacturers offer interior woodgrain options. These “woodgrains” are foil laminate coverings that mimic a real wood look. The colors vary from light and dark oak to exotic colors like Brazilian cherry and southern pine. And, exterior foil laminates are an incredible recent development by the vinyl window industry. Painting vinyl windows has always been a failed experiment. Now, however, many window makers are offering exterior foil laminates for their windows. Using the same interior laminating technology with improved weathering and fading inhibitors, exterior colors like dark brown and taupe can be applied to the outside of a vinyl window. Now, manufacturers can offer lifetime product warranties wto the end used with a plethora of exterior color options.

View the line of products available within each of the brands we carry:

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Wood windows have been in existence for the last two centuries and wood stills remains the traditionalist's choice for window frames. Since an average home may lose 30% of its heat or air-conditioning energy through its windows, it’s important that the frame material, which makes up a quarter of the window surface, be thermally nonconductive.

Due to its inherent insulating qualities, wood frames deliver exceptional thermal performance along with an attractive natural look. But what other benefits do wood frames offer? Wood windows with modern weather stripping and hardware are a vast improvement over the drafty, poorly operating windows found in older homes. One of the main benefits of wood is that you can paint or stain them virtually any color you choose. And well-maintained wood looks good, is stable and can always be repainted easily. Most manufacturers offer pre-primed wood windows. Wood frames are often used for traditionally styled homes, or in renovating an old landmark home in order to retain the home’s design integrity.

Maintenance has long been one of the biggest drawbacks to using solid-wood windows. In the last twenty years, wood window manufacturers have developed exterior covering of the window frames called “cladding.” The cladding material includes vinyl, aluminum, and most recently, fiberglass. The benefit is that with these cladding options the window exterior frames are weather protected and no longer require homeowner maintenance. High quality wood windows are among the higher priced window frame products. And the time you’ll need for interior maintenance should be factored into the decision to choose wood frames for your replacement windows. If you choose wood windows for your home, please look for good quality wood product.

View the line of products available within each of the brands we carry:

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Composite window characteristics that make them very attractive to homeowners include:

  • No Maintenance exterior and interior
  • Recyclable material
  • Lifetime warranty including factory finished paint application
  • Superior insulating values and resistance to thermal expansion and contraction
  • High Impact resistance
  • Superb overall window performance ratings

Cellular PVC (EPC)

Composite windows are the latest advancement in the replacement window industry as far as frame development. EPC structural foam, while relatively new to window manufacturing has been around for decades. Ironically, EPC had its beginnings in the construction industry where strong, light weight shapes were needed. EPC was ideal, because, in addition to its innate strength, it was virtually impervious to adverse weather conditions. With technologies, machinery, and ever rising energy costs, the use of EPC composite materials for the window industry became attractive and quite viable. While it adds a slight premium to the cost of a traditional vinyl replacement window, it boasts a stronger frame profile to traditional vinyl along with lifetime warranties on the paint finish. The material is completely maintenance free and offers interior woodgrain laminates to simulate a true wood window. EPC structural foam is a combination of resin, chemical additives, and modifiers. This chemical mix is processed with nitrogen and physical and chemical blowing agents between 400 and 600 degree Fahrenheit. When the final shape is extruded, the material has unmatched strength and durability. Composite window frames are four times stronger than their traditional vinyl counterpart and significantly less resistant to frame expansion and contraction in varying weather conditions.

Ultrex by Marvin

Ultrex by Marvin is a proprietary frame creation made of pultruded fiberglass. Strong, glass cable are coated with a resin. This combination is pultruded and the end result is a material that outperforms traditional vinyl and rolled form aluminum windows. But Marvin does not stop there with the process. Their patented window finishing system applies an acrylic cap over the already created Ultrex material. This acrylic cap bonds directly to the Ultrex material during the curing process and the end result is an exterior covering that is over three times that of their competition. It is incredibly resistant to scratching, marring, or dings. This finishing process also limits ultraviolet degradation to the material. With a patented UV inhibitor during the finishing process, Marvin has created a product that is the most resistant to adverse weather conditions of any product on the market today. This allows them to create colors like bronze (Dark Brown) and ebony (Black) as part of their standard color offering.

Fibrex by Andersen

Fibrex by Andersen was developed in 1993 with its subsidiary, Aspen Research Corporation. The Fibrex material is a patented system combining reclaimed wood fibers from the Andersen Wood division and a thermoplastic polymer. This combination creates the strength of wood with the maintenance free characteristics of vinyl. This innovation helped Andersen become the first and only Green Seal certified window manufacturer. But the sustainability of the Fibrex product extends from manufacturing to the consumers home.

View the line of products available within each of the brands we carry:

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