Ever hear of “Poltruded” Fiberglass Windows?

Chances are you soon will if you haven’t already, because everything else being equal, a very good case can be made that “poltruded” fiberglass is your best all-around value.

What the heck is “pultrusion?”

Pultrusion is the process of mixing fiberglass strands with a proprietary1 resin and then pulling them through a heated die. The result is protruded fiberglass, a material with performance characteristics better than aluminum, vinyl, wood, or steel.

Are fiberglass replacement windows the strongest?

Protruded fiberglass is stronger than aluminum, wood, or vinyl. It will not rot or warp as might wood. Nor will it shrink, sag, or crack, as might vinyl. That’s a pretty good start. But more subtly, protruded fiberglass expands and contracts at basically the same rate as glass.

This means that there is less gapping between the window glass and frame as weather changes from one extreme to the other—not like that ever happens in the Wisconsin. So there is much less air leakage and much less stress on locking mechanisms.

To put that into perspective, aluminum expands-and-contracts at triple the rate of glass; vinyl at seven times the rate; and wood is even more active than either, depending on the species. So there are a lot more opportunities with wood, vinyl, or aluminum for gaps to develop, leaking your expensively heated or cooled air into the great outdoors.

Are fiberglass replacement windows more thermally efficient?

Protruded fiberglass has air trapped inside of it, which happens as it’s pulled through the die to create it. Thus it is much more thermally and acoustically efficient than vinyl or wood or aluminum. In contrast:

  • Aluminum is actually an excellent conductor of heat, cold, and sound. So window frames made of it need to have a “thermal break.” In other words, they are hollow and filled with an insulator, which makes them inherently less sturdy and not as acoustically or thermally efficient as fiberglass.
  • Vinyl is not as rigid—let alone as strong as protruded fiberglass. So vinyl window frames necessarily include steel or aluminum stiffeners, either of which is an excellent conductor of heat and cold, thus decreasing the overall thermal efficiency of vinyl relative to fiberglass.

What about fiberglass replacement window colors?

Because protruded fiberglass conducts comparatively no heat, fiberglass replacement windows are available in heat-absorbing darker colors that would otherwise warp vinyl or wood. Color is added to the fiberglass during the protrusion process, so it runs throughout the material rather than just lying on top. That makes it more fade-resistant. If you scratch the surface the color is still there. And protruded fiberglass can be painted a different color if you wish to do so down the road.

How eco-friendly are fiberglass replacement windows?

Fiberglass is essentially made from glass, which is essentially made from sand: definitely a renewable resource. It takes much less energy to make fiberglass than other comparable window framing materials. This is called “embodied energy,” and fiberglass contains approximately 80 percent less embodied energy than steel and 39 percent less than vinyl.

Are poltruded fiberglass replacement windows right for you?

There’s more than one kind of house—and more than one kind of homeowner. Different people have differing budgets—and they certainly have differing tastes. So we would respectfully suggest that you be skeptical of any Madison replacement window contractor who offers only one make and model regardless of your home’s style, its age, or how long you intend to live there.

So what’s the bottom line?

At Genesis Exteriors, we’re striving to “differentiate” ourselves from other Madison replacement window contractors by being primarily about choices. How?

Fiberglass, vinyl, wood, or some combination thereof—our sales representatives are not paid by commission, and so the consultant we send to your home will have no financial incentive to advocate one kind of window over another. The style, type, construction, brand, and model we recommend will depend solely on the unique qualities of your home and your personal situation. We promise.

Please contact us at Genesis Exteriors to learn more.

1Simply meaning that each company concocts its own resin formula rather than using a generic product from an off-the-shelf supplier. Heck, we had to look it up, too!

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