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There's too much conflicting window information online — window sales is a hot industry, with millions spent each year on marketing campaigns.

HOMR researched the most frequently purchased window frame brands and materials to create an objective, no-nonsense guide to which window material is right for your home. We focused on energy efficiency, as it's the #1 long-term cost saver for homeowners when choosing a window frame material.

Here's our cheat sheet of best uses for the 5 most popular window materials:

  • Vinyl Windows are the best window material for most homeowners, due to energy efficiency, price point and overall lifespan.
  • Fiberglass Windows are an upgrade option for homeowners who want more color options and a higher quality product.
  • Composite Windows are a premium material for durability and thermal insulation for homeowners who want to spend more.
  • Aluminum Windows are a budget-friendly option for homeowners who want lightweight materials and care less about energy efficiency.
  • Wood Windows are a beautiful, high price point option with more maintenance requirements.

Skip the article and get a no-hassle free quote for home window installation from HOMR!

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Vinyl Windows: The Best Window Material for Most Homeowners

A photo of 3 vinyl windows on a brick house - the windows are made of vinyl with multiple panes in each window - they are white and surrounded by brick sidding.

A vinyl window is the best option for most homeowners. Vinyl is extremely low-maintenance and relatively economical compared to other window material options. Vinyl frames are lightweight and recyclable, making them popular choices for both replacement windows and new window installation.

Are vinyl windows energy efficient?

The top vinyl window brands are extremely energy efficient. Quality vinyl frames are equipped with strong insulation, which guards against air leaks in and out of your home. Vinyl windows coupled with energy efficient window treatments — like cellular shades or Roman shades — can save you up to 15% a year on home energy bills.

Homeowners who want the most energy efficient vinyl windows should opt for triple glazing. Triple pane windows significantly reduce heat loss in the winter, and keep air conditioning from leaking in summer months. Look for krypton-filled units — the addition of krypton gas to the existing vinyl window insulation increases your protection against heat loss.

The pros and cons of vinyl windows

Pros:

  • Highly energy efficient
  • Lightweight
  • Well insulated
  • 20+ year lifespan when properly managed
  • Fire resistant
  • Noise resistant
  • Good variety of colors and styles

Cons: 

  • Weaker than metal and fiberglass frame options
  • Cannot paint or stain
  • May warp and bend if exposed to high temperatures
  • Small risk of fading over time

What do vinyl windows cost?

A small vinyl window costs $250-$450 to purchase. Larger vinyl window frames cost anywhere from $475 to $950 per window. 

The best option for most homeowners is a double-hung or casement window. The average vinyl window of these styles costs between $450-$675 per window. However, choosing a brand-name like Pella can often double the costs to $1,350 per window before installation.

Add roughly $125-$150 per window if you prefer double-pane vinyl windows.

The installation labor typically runs $300-400 per window

What's the difference between single hung, double hung and casement windows? Learn about 21 different types of window in our upcoming HOMR Buying Guide to residential windows.

Fiberglass Windows: Excellent Durability and Energy Efficiency

Image courtesy of RDS windows

Fiberglass window frames are among the most durable residential window options available. Fiberglass windows contain an interwoven structure of glass fibers and resin core. This creates a strong, flexible structure that expands and contracts with the temperature and elements.

The strong construction of a fiberglass window leads to exceptional energy efficiency and noise cancellation. But you'll pay for the upgrade — the average cost of a fiberglass window is 1.5x-2x greater than a comparable vinyl frame.

Are fiberglass windows energy efficient?

On merit alone, fiberglass windows are the most energy efficient window material among the 5 most popular options. They perform slightly better than vinyl frames regarding heat loss, sealing air leaks and providing added insulation. 

We think that the potential gain in energy savings doesn't quite offset the cost increase of fiberglass windows vs. vinyl windows. However, homeowners who live in extremely cold or hot climates will benefit greatly from the upgrade.

The pros and cons of fiberglass windows

Pros:

  • Excellent resistance to heat and cold
  • Strong protection against the elements and severe weather
  • Very energy-efficient
  • Noise resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Highly durable, long-lasting material with minimal upkeep

Cons: 

  • Expensive compared to other popular window material options
  • Harder to source than vinyl and aluminum windows
  • Less able to be customized and altered
  • Cost more to install than other window options (due to labor)

What do fiberglass windows cost?

A standard double-hung fiberglass window of medium size costs roughly $500-1,250. The average fiberglass casement window or picture window costs between $650-1,500. 

Fiberglass windows are typically more difficult to install than other window frame materials. Expect to pay an extra 20-25% for labor costs when hiring a window installation company.

Need a vinyl or fiberglass window installer or repair service ASAP? Click here for a free quote on your project.

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Composite Windows: Premium Durability at a Premium Price

A room with 4 composite windows installed side by side. The camera is on the interior of the room looking into the backyard. The Frames are composite and a dark color that contrasts with the white walls of the room
Composite windows blend the benefits of fiberglass with the look of wood

If money isn’t a factor in your window material selection process, consider a composite window. Composite windows blend the low maintenance, and durability of fiberglass with the great look and insulating power of wood. You’ll pay more than every other option on our list — in return, you’ll get premium durability and great looks, all with minimal maintenance required.

Are composite windows energy efficient?

Composite windows score well on energy efficiency rankings, particularly in guarding against heat loss. Composite window materials provide excellent thermal insulation, keeping your home warm (and energy bills down) in cold winter months.

We think fiberglass and vinyl window materials score about as well as composite frames in most energy efficiency categories. If this is your primary criteria for choosing a window material, we don’t think the energy savings of composite windows are quite big enough to justify the price tag.

The pros and cons of composite windows

Pros:

  • Exceptional thermal insulation compared to all other window materials
  • Lifespan of 35-40+ years when properly handled, installed and maintained
  • Engineered to resist moisture and rot, and highly unlikely to warp
  • Excellent in harsh climates, especially in cold weather

Cons: 

  • Higher price tag than all competing window material choices
  • Not a cost-effective window material option for most homeowners
  • Susceptible to fading and discoloration over long periods of exposure to sunlight
  • Less color and design versatility than other window materials, especially wood and vinyl

What do composite windows cost?

The average cost to purchase and install composite windows is $700-$1,200 per window. However, most homeowners who select composite windows opt for premium products to maximize their durability benefits. Premium composite windows start at $1,250 per window before installation.

Installation costs will also run more expensive as composite windows cannot be fusion welded.

Keep your focus on energy efficient windows — read our updated guide to the top energy efficient window treatments, and see why we love cellular shades and plantation shutters.

Aluminum Windows: Budget Friendly, But Not Energy Efficient

6 aluminum window frame cross sections cut and displayed on a table with a city in the background
Aluminum windows come in a variety of cross sections - rubber gaskets keep glass in place

Aluminum windows are ideal for homeowners whose primary concern is lightweight, inexpensive material. However, aluminum is among the worst window materials in terms of energy efficiency.

If you choose aluminum windows, make sure you live in a temperate climate that doesn’t get too hot or cold. The upfront savings you gain by choosing aluminum will evaporate over time with an increase in your home heating and cooling bills.

Are aluminum windows energy efficient?

Not particularly. Aluminum windows are known for heat loss, and cause energy bills to increase during cold winter months. A weak seal also leads to condensation issues in aluminum windows, which can lead to mold and mildew growth.

We think the inexpensive nature of aluminum windows doesn’t make up for their subpar energy efficiency. The average homeowner with aluminum windows can see home energy bills increase by up to 8-10% per year.

The pros and cons of aluminum windows

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight frames are easy to handle and install
  • Low maintenance compared to wood and other natural materials
  • Average lifespan of 20-25 years per window frame — 40+ years if well-maintained
  • More affordable material option than fiberglass and vinyl frames

Cons: 

  • Average to poor energy efficiency ratings
  • Aluminum materials may corrode over time
  • More susceptible to condensation between window panes
  • Much thinner than wood windows and fiberglass windows
  • Very specific in terms of style — won’t look good in wood-based home designs

What do aluminum windows cost?

Mid-range aluminum windows cost between $400-$800 to purchase and install. A double-hung aluminum window is slightly more expensive, ranging between $500-$1,100 to buy and install.

You’ll pay less for aluminum window installation than fiberglass, as the material is far lighter and easier to handle. However, this savings is offset by a poor energy efficiency rating — aluminum is one of the worst material options when it comes to home heat loss. 

HOMR’s home base is in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex — read our updated Dallas Window Buying Guide to see who we rank #1 for window installation and repair here.

Wood Windows: Luxury Design with an Luxury Price Tag

Wooden skylights set at a 45 degree angle and framed in around drywall - the skylights have a latch to let the homeowner open the window.

Wood windows are the choice of homeowners who prioritize design aesthetics above all else. Customization options are nearly endless in terms of color, grain and style — wood windows bring a natural look and feel to home design, especially in older and vintage houses.

Wood windows are a double-edged sword, however — what you gain in beauty, you lose in ease of care. Wood frames require more maintenance than any other option on our list. Expect annual sealing, bi-annual caulking, and repainting your frames every 5 years.

Are wood windows energy efficient?

Wood windows are surprisingly efficient if properly maintained. Wood’s natural ability to protect against air leaks and heat loss means a net positive energy efficiency score — if you keep up with regular maintenance.

Homeowners that don’t regularly maintain and repair their wood frames will see little to no energy efficiency benefits. As cracks and chips form, air leaks naturally occur. The money you save on energy bills goes directly into annual maintenance of your window frames.

The pros and cons of wood windows

Pros:

  • Strong lifespan of 30+ years with proper annual maintenance
  • Beautiful natural look adds value to wood-based home design
  • Easy to customize and pair with home design colors, grains and tones
  • Better than average energy efficiency rankings

Cons: 

  • Higher upfront cost than virtually all other popular window materials
  • Require annual maintenance and sealing to avoid rot, mildew and damage
  • Regular repairs needed to account for chips, cracks and warping
  • Condensation damage accumulates over time, regular caulking needed
  • Prolonged exposure to rain and snow leads to timber swelling

What do wood windows cost?

The average wood window frame costs $750-$1,250 to purchase and install. Double-hung wood windows are actually slightly less expensive than the average wood frame, at $650-$1,050 per window.

Wood windows are valued for their customization and beauty in larger window installation styles. For example, a 3-window wood bay window feature costs $2,500-$3,500 to buy and install.

Let’s decrease your home energy bills with a free quote on window repair.

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The Best Home Window Material Is…

We think vinyl window frames are the best window material for most homeowners. However, each window material on our list has enough advantages to be right for some people. Here’s how they all stack up:

  • Vinyl windows are best for most homeowners, due to their blend of reasonable price, high energy efficiency, and low maintenance needs.
  • Fiberglass windows are best for homeowners willing to spend more money for durability and strength.
  • Composite windows are best for homeowners who want to spend more than vinyl or fiberglass to obtain exceptional durability and energy efficiency.
  • Aluminum windows are best for homeowners in mild climates that value lightweight, budget-friendly materials.
  • Wood windows are best for homeowners who value energy efficiency and the ability to customize window designs, and don’t mind the increase in maintenance and price.

Got your window materials picked out? Get a free quote on window installation with one click!

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$ 1300.00

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