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High Fiber

  • Ultra Ultrex

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    Featuring wood interiors and an Ultrex fiberglass exterior, the manufacturer’s casement and awning windows stand up to the strongest wind and rain, the company says. Standard options include a folding handle and dual-arm roto gear, multi-point locks, and optional triple glazing. Interiors come in pine, and the exteriors are available in five colors. Integrity by Marvin Windows and Doors. 888-419-0076. www.integritywindows.com.

  • Fiber Diet

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    The manufacturer’s Series 525 fiberglass windows are resistant to environmental damage such as salt air, high temperatures, and moisture. Available in a variety of styles such as double-hung, casement, and awnings, the windows feature insulating foam in the cavities, warm-edge spacers, wet glazing, and a variety of gas fill insulation that improves energy performance. Serious Energy. 877-797-1206. www.seriouswindows.com.

  • Bare Essence

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    The Essence Series is a new window and door line that combines the beauty of wood on the interior and the strength and durability of fiberglass on the exterior. Featuring the company’s new SmartTouch lock, windows are available in pine, vertical-grain Douglas fir, or primed wood. It comes in four standard exterior colors and 11 additional hues with extended lead times. Milgard Windows & Doors. 800-MIL-GARD. www.milgard.com.

  • Strong Arm

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    Impervia fiberglass windows offer strength and durability, the manufacturer says. Products will not expand and warp in the summer or shrink and turn brittle during winter. Windows are offered in three frame colors that give the look of a painted wood window, a variety of hardware finishes, grilles-between-the-glass in a variety of patterns, and insulated glazing options. Pella Corp. 877-473-5527. www.pella.com.

  • Shields Up

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    The manufacturer has added a double-hung tilt fiberglass-clad window to its EnduraShield line of products. Fiberglass means the product is energy efficient, strong, and durable. As a result, it will not warp or buckle under heat, and is low maintenance. The window is available in five exterior colors, pine or character alder interiors, and various glazing options. Weather Shield Windows & Doors. 877-452-5535. www.weathershield.com

Michael Anschel is not a fan of vinyl windows, but he loves wood. “Wood requires very little additional energy to manipulate,” says the principal of Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build in Minneapolis. “It is stored carbon, it can be easily handled when its useful life has ended, and it is beautiful.”

But if Anschel had to compromise, he would go with fiberglass.

“I feel better about fiberglass,” Anschel says. “The expansion and contraction of the frame material and the glass are closer, so durability is increased. They are more stable overall, and failures seem less likely.”

Fiberglass windows have been around for a while, but in recent years the product has achieved a higher profile. Because of the many benefits, manufacturers say it’s the perfect material for windows.

“The superior characteristics of fiberglass that make our lives mobile, safer, and convenient are the same qualities that contribute to making a solid, long-lasting window,” says Dave Koester, wood and fiberglass products brand manager at Medford, Wis.–based Weather Shield Windows & Doors. “It’s energy efficient, durable, and doesn’t become brittle. It’s also resistant to water, scratches, dents, and corrosion.”

Strength is one of the most oft-reported benefits of fiberglass. Warroad, Minn.–based Marvin Windows and Doors says its Integrity brand of Ultrex fiberglass windows is as strong as steel and is eight times stronger than vinyl. “In fact, it’s so tough, we have to use diamond-edge blades just to cut it to size,” the company says.

Fiberglass also is a good energy-efficiency option. The Energy Department says fiberglass windows have air cavities similar to vinyl and when “these cavities are filled with insulation, they offer superior thermal performance compared to wood or vinyl.”

So if fiberglass windows are so great, why aren’t they more popular? Cost might be the main reason.

“Because of its durability, fiberglass is the most expensive window material on the market,” says the Seattle-based window dealer Keystone Windows and Doors. In other words, manufacturers charge a premium for the material.

Sizes and features are also limited. John Kirchner, public relations manager for Marvin, confirms that there are limitations “due to the strength and durability of the fiberglass making it difficult to bend and shape.” Round tops or radius windows are not possible, he adds.

Still, if you can work around those constraints, fiberglass offers features and attributes that your home buyers will love. Moreover, it has “the benefit of being able to mimic the appearance of wood, which improves consumers’ acceptance of the product,” Anschel says.