Vinyl is currently the most popular building material used in window construction, before that it was aluminum, and before that wood. All of these materials are still available and companies continue to innovate to offer durable and affordable products. Fibrex® is one of vinyl’s contemporary competitors.
So what are they and how do they compare? Keep reading to learn what the differences are between Fibrex® and vinyl.
Fibrex® is a composite material made with a blend of wood and plastic fibers. Individually, wood and plastic (vinyl) are both popular building materials with many benefits, combined, these materials offer the best of both worlds. Fibrex® offers the strength, energy efficiency, and beauty of wood windows combined with the durability and low-maintenance of vinyl.
Watch the video below to see how Andersen makes Fibrex®. In the video, you’ll see how the wood and plastic fibers bond together to create a durable and flexible material that can be extruded into various shapes.
Vinyl is also known as polyvinyl chloride, PVC for short. According to ChemicalSafetyFacts.org, “Vinyl is largely derived from salt – an abundant and inexpensive resource – and ethylene, which is derived from natural gas. Vinyl products consume less energy, generate fewer emissions, and save more energy than many other products.”
Vinyl is a great building material because it’s strong and resistant to moisture. In window construction, vinyl makes window frames that are “extremely durable, affordable, and help conserve energy when heating and cooling homes” (ChemicalSafetyFacts.org).
Vinyl windows. According to Window and Door, vinyl windows were the most in-demand product in 2018. Earlier this year Katie Gregg, from Window and Door, reported that composite products like Fibrex® windows were poised to take more of vinyl’s market share because they are stronger and more durable. Gregg also reported that growth in popularity has allowed Andersen to open a new manufacturing facility dedicated to Fibrex windows and parts.
Read More: What Are the Pros & Cons of Vinyl Windows?
Building materials expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. If you live in a climate that experiences extreme temperatures and changes, less thermal expansion in windows is better. Less thermal expansion means the frame is less likely to bow and crack, it’s also more stable which means the seal around the glass is less likely to fail. The glass in your window is the most important component when it comes to energy efficiency – a weathertight seal keeps it at optimal performance.
Which performs better? Fibrex®
To keep your home at a comfortable temperature it needs to be well insulated. Every element of your home’s envelope contributes to the insulation including your windows. Fibrex® and vinyl both have excellent built-in thermal qualities that reduce the thermal conductivity meaning less heat and cold are traveling through your windows.
Which performs better? Vinyl®
Water can cause a lot of damage to our homes, fortunately, vinyl and Fibrex® are both moisture-resistant meaning water won’t penetrate the material and rot (common in wood windows) will never be a problem.
Which performs better? It’s a tie!
We reached out to other window professionals who also have experience with vinyl and Fibrex® windows and here is what they had to say when we asked which material provided a better value.
“Fibrex – it’s structurally sound, doesn’t fade out like vinyl, and you could repaint it if you wanted to. Vinyl windows aren’t forever, at least not in our climate. We like the fibrex window, it’s a very good product for the price point – actually it’s an exceptional product for the price point and you have a national manufacturer that stands behind their product.”
Stephen Shirley - La Maison Complete of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
“They’re two completely different products, so it’s hard to compare the two. When Andersen started selling the 100 Series it was to compete against vinyl but they’re different – can’t compare them. We sell both vinyl and Andersen 100 Series Fibrex®, people who want Fibrex® are not interested in vinyl and people who want vinyl don’t want Fibrex®, the price and familiarity with Andersen makes a difference, too. The one thing about the 100 Series is that it’s available in darker colors that aren’t available in vinyl. There is one vinyl company that we work with that offers a laminated finish with darker colors, but when customers are interested in the darker color in the exterior, they want it on the interior, too. When considering both Fibrex® and vinyl, most customers who want darker colors will choose Fibrex instead of X-vinyl windows.”
Cathy Kleinschmidt - Superior Window & Door of Lake Charles, Louisiana
Monica Batiz’s customers at El Paso Window Co. are also choosing Fibrex when it comes to darker color windows. Asked specifically, which offers a better value Monica said, “Fibrex® is a better value because of its energy efficiency.”
Fibrex is a better material than vinyl. However, what you purchase is going to depend on your color choices, budget, and what’s available in your area. The Andersen 100 Series offers a great product but if it’s out of your budget, there are also lots of great vinyl window manufacturers making high-quality vinyl windows.
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