Go cheap on vinyl windows or long lasting fiberglass Marvin?

7 Replies

So I am on my live in flip which is going to become my first rental property in a year or so. My windows are pretty shot so I am getting them all new, $8,000 for whole house vinyl or $12,000 for Marvin fiber glass windows which may work better for resale and less repairs in the future. Any input is appreciated !

First question is how many windows are you getting ?  A good vinyl replacement window will last 20 plus years . That price could be high or low depending on the quantity . 

If you are hands on installing replacement windows is rather easy . 

Nine windows one is a pretty big window that goes across the living room and two windows have to be brought up above the counter tops as we converted a dining room into a bigger kitchen so they are moving some siding around as well to raise two windows. I am somewhat handy but don’t have much time and don’t want to get stuck with window issues so I figured I’ll get it done by professionals and not risk screwing up windows

@Andy Rousch

I suggest you listen more carefully to what @Matthew Paul is telling you. Window replacement is one of the three biggest hustles in home improvement. I typically replace with the Series 70 American Craftsman by Andersen vinyl windows available at the Home Depot in a variety of sizes, all with a limited lifetime warranty. Get a handyman and give him a tape measure, get the measurements, buy the windows, and have him install at $50-$75 per. Since the windows will all run you under $200 each except possibly for your extra-large jobs, even with the money you'll be paying the handyman you'll end up paying half as much. There's no "window issues" that a couple tubes of 100% silicone caulk and a can of Great Stuff foam can't handle. And some fiberglass or,  better, rockwool insulation to fill up weight cavities in old sash windows.

I know the salesman who came out and carefully measured your windows before giving you a quote offered you a careful spiel about thousands of dollars of possible leakage and damage and insurance and a bunch of other vague warnings. It's in their standard playbook. Go and check out a few videos on how to replace windows. It's handyman's work. The guys that the window company will send out to your job will really have no more than a few hours training between them. It's pretty straightforward outside the web of nonsense the salesmen spin about it.

If you're in the residential renovation business for the long haul, window replacement is one of the things that comes up again and again. If you're going to run this place as a rental and you contract window replacement out now, you're going to be paying those extortionate prices for people to come out every time a kid busts a window. Old windows going back to the late 1800s were all installed with the understanding that they would be eventually have to be replaced. The only difference these days is that the modular vinyl windows can be bought preassembled with gas sealed between glass panes and slotted into existing window openings.

Whatever you do, Andy, good luck in your business.


As long as you aren't installing hurricane impact rated windows or need windows with leak resistance above 60mph winds, any standard window with DIY installation should work well for you. There are lots of videos on YouTube that will outline the most important part - water penetration prevention.

In your neck of the woods, window frame construction material is a toss-up. PVC windows are probably going to be your most economical, up front. If being environmentally conscious isn't a concern and a 20-30 year lifespan is acceptable they will do fine. However, their manufacturing process (and other PVC materials like siding/soffit) produces toxic gases and the disposal of them in landfills is a major issue. Fiberglass lasts longer, is more dimensionally stable (less bowing and warping) and is a bit more environmentally friendly but the inhalation of the powders produced when grinding, cutting or sanding the finished product is known to cause of form of Mesothelioma as well as the more common skin irritation.

Aluminum will last the longest, and is recyclable. If condensation on the inside of the windows and/or energy efficiency during the cold months is a big concern, interior or exterior storm windows are options to consider.

I'm not a big fan of modern wood windows. Most are made from new-growth wood that lacks the density of old-growth farmhouse windows (which would be my preference. They require more maintenance but are the most reliable). Some companies have attempted to "clad" new-growth wood in an effort to claim the moniker of "low maintenance", but all it takes is one little leak in the cladding and the rotting of the wood core quickly ensues while the cladding hides the process until it's too late to repair.

That's just my two cents in the FWIW department. Whatever you choose, best of luck to you.

8k for 9 vinyl windows is very expensive. I've just custom ordered windows for several houses at Home Depot and they averaged $ 150 per piece. A handyman can probably install each for $ 100 each. So, if 7 of them are basic windows - you'd be at 7 x 250 = $ 1750.00. 

Framing in some new windows isn't that difficult for a good handyman, so even those 2 larger windows shouldn't be that expensive. 

Cheap vinyl windows are a pain. Smaller sizes at locations where the tenant will never open them anyway, offer you a way to go cheap. But the larger the window, the more I recommend going with quality. Over the years I have inherited properties with crappy windows. They leak, they warp, and you can push them open with one hand despite being locked. There are good vinyl windows to use, they just cost more than the cheapest options. That being said, I have most often sided with Fiberglass at replacement time. Your quotes seem high to me.