Vinyl vs. Composite Windows: Which Should You Choose?

Whether you are building a new home or updating an existing one, the type of windows you choose is a serious consideration. Due to the expense, permanence, and impact of installing windows in a home, every practical homeowner or contractor owes it to themselves to fully research their options.


When vetting candidates for high-quality windows that will have both longevity and style, the two stand-out options are vinyl and composite. Both materials have their own features, advantages and drawbacks.

Strength and Durability

Vinyl windows are a well-established replacement window choice. Vinyl is a synthetic man-made material made from ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in regular salt). When processed, both the substances form vinyl, a plastic-like material that guarantees resistance to moisture and rot. Since the 1970s it has been a popular choice for homeowners and builders alike, and new technologies make it more customizable and attractive than ever.

Composite windows are a relatively new window trend. Composite is created by combining substances such as resin and fiberglass to create a tough, solid core. And while composite windows are made from a blend of materials, similar to what your car's bumper is made of, they are finished to have the appearance of natural wood and are long-lasting and easy to maintain.

When it comes to durability, vinyl windows can withstand extreme temperatures and are more durable than wood and aluminum windows. While vinyl windows last on average for about 30 years, superior quality vinyl windows, such as windows from Soft-Lite Windows & Doors, are known to last for up to 40 years.

Composite windows can also withstand cold climate conditions or excessive heat and tend to not expand or contract due to temperature fluctuations. Generally, quality composite windows have a lifespan of around 40 years.


Both vinyl and composite windows help you control your energy costs throughout the year. You won’t need to contend with the moisture, peeling, cracking, chipping, flaking or warping that come with wood or aluminum windows, making either choice in windows easier and more affordable to maintain.

Energy Efficiency


Energy-efficient windows use double and triple panes of glass with gas between the layers to block UV rays and to prevent heat loss. The window frame, whether vinyl or composite, is responsible for creating a tight seal to keep air inside or outside the window.

Vinyl windows are some of the most energy-efficient on the market. However, composite windows always excel in air infiltration performance as well, consistently out-performing their wood and metal window equivalents. Soft-Lite’s vinyl windows feature fusion-welded frames and sashes, while composite windows are mechanically fastened. This allows Soft-Lite vinyl windows to have a better air infiltration rating over a composite window, while also offering maximum weatherproofing and superior structural integrity.

Due to vinyl’s forgiving nature, engineers in charge of designing energy-efficient windows designed interlocks and air barriers that fit right into the vinyl extrusions. Multi-chambered extrusions even allow for you to include foam insulation, further increasing the home’s energy efficiency.  Most vinyl windows from Soft-Lite Windows & Doors, are ENERGY STAR qualified which can save you money in energy costs.  Soft-Lite has also been awarded ENERGY STAR partner of the year for 6 years in a row.


Vinyl windows come in a wide range of colors, styles, and finishes. Soft-Lite Windows & Doors offers 14 standard colors and unlimited custom colors, in addition to white, beige, brown or wood grain. Vinyl windows can have the look of wood with the maintenance-free attributes of vinyl and the wide array of color choices is a designer’s dream.

Composite windows are typically only available in styles that mimic the appearance of wood finishes.

Learn more about Soft-Lite’s vinyl window lines. Or, contact a vinyl window dealer near you.

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