Compare Vinyl vs. Composite Windows

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Vinyl vs Composite Windows

Let's compare vinyl vs. composite windows in four key areas: overall strength, aesthetics, energy efficiency, and costs.

Bottom Line When it comes to deciding b/n vinyl vs. compsite windows, it may come down to looks for some, with the nod going to the best composite windows. However, a high end well made vinyl window with solid installation is hard to beat from the overall price and value perspective.

Dane - Site Editor - Page Last Updated: March 15, 2024

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On the strength issue, vinyl and composite windows will be pretty darn comparable. A top quality vinyl window frame can last up to thirty years, as should be the case with the composites. Composite windows are a newer technology so time will tell how they hold up in the long run.


The style window you choose comes down to taste and the actual product you choose. The Andersen 100 window is a composite that is quite nice looking, while other composite options out there leave something to be desired on the style front. Composites can be made with a mix of color and finish options, which can mean a very nice looking window. Vinyl frames are relatively bland - not bad looking by any means, but nothing special. Some contractors point out that certain high end vinyl options are quite nice looking, such as the Sunrise Restorations window, but they simply can't compare to wood clad.

Energy Efficiency

Many manufacturers claim that their composites are more energy efficienct than vinyl windows, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of unbiased information to support that Renewal By Andersen windows have decent performance numbers but nothing exceptional (they are nice looking but also very expensive windows.) Well made vinyl windows offer some of the best performance numbers in the replacement market, while other brands such the lower end models from American Craftsman and Cascade for instance have some of the worst (especially once installed as opposed to in the showroom).

Cost & Value

Vinyl windows are quite popular and account for nearly half of all replacement windows - expect to pay anywhere from $200 and $750 per installed window. A well made vinyl window with installation should run you $400 to $450. Vinyl can offer very nice long term value with a well made product and installation. Composites range in price from $325 to $1100 per installed window. The Andersen 100 should run you around $500 installed for a normal sized double hung. The value issue is still up for grabs with some composite proponents saying they offer excellent value, while other industry experts are only so so on their long term prospects.

Our window replacement cost estimator can help you compare costs between these two frame materials.

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Vinyl vs Composite Windows

Love some advice or suggestions on our replacement window project for 16 double hung and sliders.

Marvin Infinity Windows: $25K
Simonton Platinum: $11.7K
Andersen 100: $17K
Window World 4000: $11K
Window Universe Berkshire Elite: $12.K
Zen Soft Lite Classic: $13.7K

How do you rank all of the price quotes we have???? I really appreciate the help.

Patricia - Homeowner - from 2022

[Site Editor's Answer]

Patricia, I would say the Berkshire Elite might be the way to go if you are living in the home for say 12 years or less. Probably your best bet in terms of the capital outlay. But if I were living in the home for more than 12 years, I would then probably make the switch to the Zen Soft Lite Classic for the additional $2K. The Infinity is a nice window, but that is such a big price jump that I don't think it's worth it even if this were your forever home.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2023

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