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Cost of Windows: Why Are They So Expensive?

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We don’t look at windows as “windows,” per se. We look at them as glass doors. Windows are an opening in a home in the exact same way a door is — it’s a way for someone to enter or exit. In our eyes, the only differences between doors and windows are the dimensions of the opening (sometimes) and the materials used (again, sometimes).

However, we fully understand that our clients don’t necessarily see it that way. They see doors as entrance and exit points that can be designed and adorned in whatever way they want, and windows as a thing that shows them their spectacular view. Perhaps, also as a thing they can open to let a fresh breeze in. Therefore, they’re sometimes dismayed at how expensive our windows can be. 

We understand this frustration, which is why we wanted to delve a bit further into what exactly goes into the cost of a window. We try to be as transparent as possible (that’s why we offer a pricing list), but to help you fully grasp why security windows cost more at FBS than they do at a big box store, we’ve put together some important considerations. 

Major Factors in the Cost of Windows

Material Used

Window encasements are typically made of vinyl (plastic), aluminum, or steel. Of course, windows can also be made of wood, but that’s less common than it used to be, at least in part because the maintenance is a pain (the frames need to be sealed and re-glazed every few years to prevent rotting). Furthermore, the material simply can’t last as long. It will not stand up to hurricane-like conditions, and it certainly won’t stand up to a determined criminal with a crowbar. 

Vinyl is the cheapest material possible. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the weakest. It can be hurricane-certified, but it will not stand up to intruders or bullets.

A photo of the cross-section of a vinyl window to illustrate its construction.
A vinyl (plastic) window.

Both aluminum and steel are strong in their own right and both can be approved for various certifications (such as hurricanes and security), but there is a significant price difference between the two materials.

Most windows are made with aluminum frames exactly for this reason. Your typical, run-of-the-mill window companies use either vinyl or aluminum because it’s lighter (which architects love) and cheaper (which homeowners love). Homeowners don’t often care about their windows aside from being energy efficient, so they’re satisfied with a cheaper product as long as it meets their standards. 

A photo of a cross-section of an aluminum window to illustrate its construction.
An aluminum window.

But FBS isn’t a run-of-the-mill window company. As we’ve said before, we’re not a window (or door) company. We’re a security company that manufactures doors and windows. 

If all you’re looking for is a beautiful window that shows off your breathtaking view, aluminum might suit your purposes just fine. But if you’re worried about your safety — or the safety of your family — you really need a window made from steel. It’s the strongest, the heaviest, and the most durable. We use it because it’s the best way to keep you safe.

There are also circumstances in which special grades of stainless steel are necessary, such as in climates with severe weather conditions, like Caribbean islands. In order to withstand the hurricanes, window encasements need to be stainless steel. Of course, they can be painted any color you’d like, or covered with outdoor-appropriate materials, but we have to start with high quality metal. 

A photo of a cross-section of a steel window to illustrate its construction.
A steel window made by FBS.

Another positive aspect of steel windows is that the material itself is more durable than aluminum. Of course this means that the integrity of your window is higher, but it will also last longer.

The bottom line with steel is that it’s more difficult to work with and it’s heavy. For reference, a three foot-by-three foot steel window will weigh about 200 pounds. Of course it’s going to be expensive. But it’s also the best material available for security windows.

Both metals are low maintenance, and shouldn’t require too much attention once they’re installed. Additionally, they can be painted or covered with any outdoor-approved materials.  

Size

Obviously, the size of the window will play a significant part in the cost. The larger the window, the more materials will go into it, the more planning is involved to assure the window can pass whatever certifications are required (i.e. hurricane, security, ballistic), the heavier it will be, the more packaging it requires for shipping. 

While some companies charge the same amount for a window, regardless of size, we cannot make that assertion at FBS. Because all of our windows are custom-made from the inside out (glass composition, in particular), the amount of materials needed is rather important. 

Glass Composition

Another contributing factor to the cost of windows is the glass composition. Most window companies have a set series of offerings — usually a double pane and a triple pane variation, which affects energy efficiency and noise reduction. And while every window company will tell you they sell “custom windows,” they’re not making what we’re making.

In one sense, every window is custom because every window has to be made to fit exactly into a designated space. To some extent, there are standards at play, but not to the extent that American doors are made. What you won’t get with standard window companies is custom glass composition. 

Because we’re a security company, every door and window we make will be a security door or window. That’s where we start construction every single time — with security in mind. From there, we make adjustments according to what your unique needs. For example, if you live in a hurricane zone, we can create windows that are not only security windows, but are also hurricane-certified. If you have concerns about violent crime or have been physically threatened, we can create ballistic windows for you (that are also security windows, and could be hurricane-certified if necessary).

We do all of this by combining annealed, heat-strengthened, and/or tempered glass with PVB (polyvinyl butyral) or polycarbonate in order to fortify the window. Not every material is acceptable for every use-case, which is why we carefully discuss our clients’ needs prior to starting construction. 

Specifically, the way hurricane-certified windows behave when hit with flying objects is entirely different from the way security glass behaves when someone is hitting it with, say, a sledgehammer. (Check out our Burglary Testing video on the Windows page.)

Once we know what your concerns are — whether they’re man-made or nature-made — we can create a completely custom product that will solve those problems, protecting your family and your home at the same time.

A photo of the exterior of a white house with green ivy growing up the stucco.

Operability

Whether or not the window is fixed or operable also plays a role in price. Fixed windows are essentially just large panes of glass and are generally cheaper than their movable counterparts because there is less hardware and less work that goes into making sure the window is functional — because it doesn’t need to be. 

Operable windows require more steel to make the frame, as well as more time for construction and testing.

Installation

Assuming you’re not a window installation expert yourself, you’ll need to pay for someone else to install your gorgeous new windows. Depending on the company, this cost is either rolled into the cost of the entire window, or it’s kept as a separate charge that varies depending on how many windows are being installed and how many people the job will require.

Another factor into installation costs can be the shipping of the windows themselves. If the manufacturer is far from your luxury home location, you may be expected to pay for the transportation. However this practice is typically something you’ll find with cheaper windows. Higher end window manufacturers aren’t as likely to push this cost onto the consumer. It will either be included in the cost of the window, or shipping will be free because you’re already spending so much money.

At FBS, we roll the cost of installation into our overall price. The only other cost you’ll incur is the shipping, which (of course) varies according to size and weight. This is why we cannot include it in the overall price. 

The Average Cost of Windows

The cost of windows can vary widely depending on the factors discussed above. The lowest end of the price spectrum is about $200 — this is something you’d find at a big-box store, and is lower in quality than something you’d buy directly from a window manufacturer. 

Again, windows made with aluminum are cheaper and lighter, and run an average of about $800 to $1,200 a piece, depending on whether or not installation is included in that price. 

Of course, steel is more expensive than aluminum, both because of the material itself and the process involved in manipulating and molding it. Truthfully — and this is not an attempt to be evasive — it’s difficult to give accurate quotes on steel windows without having dimensions and glass composition requirements. What we can say with certainty is that steel windows are much more expensive than aluminum windows. 

A photo of a large living room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a luxurious backyard and pool.

Whereas aluminum windows can be manufactured and sold for under $1,000, there is almost no way in which this can be the case for steel windows. Low quality versions of steel windows are sometimes sold through big box stores, but make no mistake that they are not the same product as a custom security window from a company like FBS. 

The windows you can purchase in stores will have much lower quality steel, in addition to cheap, generic glass. These will not be security windows, and buying the green film to put over them will never be the same quality as a custom-built security window. It’s better than nothing if security is your goal, but it’s certainly not the same.

Because we use the highest quality materials and custom make your windows from the inside out (without the ugly green film), our products start at a price point closer to $4,000. Of course, based on the size and glass composition requirements, the price can go up from there. 

FBS Quality Assurance

One of the most important things we do at the factory before sending your custom security doors and windows to their final destination — your gorgeous luxury home — is test them relentlessly. We install them into a temporary space in the factory and then test every single aspect of it. 

If it’s an operable door or window, we open and close it. And open and close it. And open and close it. If it has smart technology incorporated into it, we check every detail of its functionality. We test the locks, the sturdiness of the encasement, and regardless of its operability, we try to pop it out of the frame. We want to make sure that when the final product arrives at your home for installation that it’s perfect. 

Furthermore, our newly ordered security doors and windows come with our Platinum Level Service guarantee. For the first year of use, we’ll provide you with 24-hour on-call service. If you have any questions or concerns at any point, you’re welcome to call us and a qualified technician will answer, or otherwise call you back as soon as possible. 

Many times, we can fix technical problems over the phone. However, if that is impossible, or there is a hardware problem, we will send someone to resolve the issue (weather permitting) within 48 hours. This service also includes an annual maintenance check, during which we check for any damage, oil hinges, check any smart technology, replace batteries, and test all functionality. After the first year, you can renew this service guarantee for a fee. 

We pride ourselves on being able to create whatever yourself, your architect, or your interior designer can come up with. We’ve yet to be issued a challenge that we cannot meet and exceed. 

Despite our Boca Raton headquarters, our doors and windows are made in Italy and ship worldwide. No matter where your luxury home is located, we can deliver straight to you. If you’re ready to discuss your luxury home door or window needs, feel free to contact us today!

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