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Cardinal Glass vs. Big Box Window Glass: Energy Efficiency, Durability, and More

October 20th, 2023 | 6 min. read

Cardinal Glass vs. Big Box Window Glass: Energy Efficiency, Durability, and More

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When it comes to upgrading your windows, one of the most critical decisions you'll make is choosing the right glass.

The window glass makes up about 97% of the entire window. It plays a pivotal role in determining energy efficiency, insulation, and overall comfort in your home.

As a trusted window replacement company since 1989, Southwest Exteriors strives to be the number one educator in the industry. While we offer the highest quality replacement windows and expert installation, we're here to educate you on all you need to know, from products to installation to warranties. 

Our replacement windows are made with Cardinal Glass, which is the leader in energy-efficient and durable glass. This glass protects your windows and your home from harsh UV rays and sun heat. 

While the glass of a window may not seem like an important part of a replacement window, it's arguably the most important part. 

So, we want you to know the difference between Cardinal Glass and regular window glass to understand the importance window glass plays in the performance of your new windows. 

This article will compare Cardinal Glass to the glass commonly found in windows from big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's so you can make informed choices when replacing or upgrading your windows.


About Cardinal Glass: A Leader in Energy Efficiency

Cardinal Glass stands as a symbol of innovation and excellence in the window industry. Renowned for its commitment to energy efficiency, Cardinal Glass utilizes advanced technologies and coatings to enhance the performance of windows.

The use of low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings, inert gas fills, and high-quality manufacturing has made Cardinal Glass a top choice for homeowners seeking energy-efficient solutions. Cardinal Glass windows not only offer superior insulation but also significantly reduce solar heat gain while maintaining optimal visible light transmission.

Why Choose Cardinal Glass

If you're looking for top-tier energy efficiency and year-round comfort in your home, Cardinal Glass is a wise choice. Its exceptional U-factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and Visible Light Transmission (VT) ratings make it ideal for climates with varying temperatures.

Choosing windows made with Cardinal Glass is the perfect choice for any homeowner looking to replace their windows with high-quality, long-lasting windows that will protect their home and improve its energy efficiency. 


Window Glass from Big Box Stores: What to Watch For

Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's offer convenience and affordability, making replacement windows accessible to many homeowners. However, it's essential to be cautious when considering the glass that comes with budget windows from these retailers.

While these windows may be cost-effective, the glass used in them can sometimes lack the advanced features needed for optimal energy efficiency.

The glass in budget windows typically lacks the low-E coatings, gas-filled panes, and other advanced technologies that you find in Cardinal Glass. This results in a lack of energy efficiency and comfort.

The glass in such windows may also have lower-quality seals and construction, making them less effective at insulating your home.

When to Consider Window Glass from Big Box Stores

Budget windows from big box stores can be a viable option for homeowners with tight budgets or those living in areas with milder climates. They can serve well in areas where extreme temperature variations are less of a concern.

If you are a house flipper or don't need windows that will last, finding windows at a big box store may be the right option. However, you must consider the lack of energy efficiency and durability that comes with these windows. 


Comparing Energy-Efficiency Ratings

To help you make the best choice when finding the right replacement windows, it's essential to compare the energy-efficient ratings of Cardinal Glass to the glass from big box store windows.

Here are a few energy factors to compare to better determine what type of windows are best for you.

  • U-Factor:  Cardinal Glass provides an impressively low U-factor, indicating superior insulation properties. This means it effectively prevents heat transfer and minimizes energy loss, maintaining a comfortable indoor environment throughout the year. In contrast, the U-factor of glass in budget windows may be higher, indicating less effective insulation.

  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): Cardinal Glass offers a low SHGC, reducing unwanted solar heat gain. This is particularly valuable in warmer climates where excessive heat can strain air conditioning systems. The SHGC helps keep your home cool by minimizing heat transfer from the sun. Glass from budget windows may have a higher SHGC, allowing more heat to penetrate the home and making it hotter.

  • Visible Light Transmission (VT): With Cardinal Glass, you enjoy ample natural light while minimizing heat gain and UV radiation. In contrast, budget window glass may have reduced VT, which could impact the overall lighting and ambiance in your home.


Overall, comparing specific energy-efficient ratings helps you to understand the key differences between high-quality Cardinal Glass and lower-quality glass from big box store windows. 


Security and Soundproofing

While energy efficiency is a significant factor, it's not the sole consideration when choosing window glass.

Depending on your wants, needs, and goals, you should also weigh other aspects, such as sound insulation and security features.

Cardinal Glass offers various options for enhanced soundproofing, helping to reduce noise from the outside. Its sound-dampening properties can contribute to a quieter and more peaceful home.

When it comes to security, Cardinal Glass can be paired with windows featuring robust locks and laminated glass options for added protection.

Big box windows lack the quality Cardinal Glass provides. While there may be options for upgraded glass with added strength and soundproofing qualities, these are important factors to consider when choosing the right replacement windows. 

Longevity and Durability

Another thing to consider when choosing the right windows with glass that will meet your needs is durability and longevity.

Cardinal Glass is recognized for its longevity and durability. It can withstand the test of time and maintain its energy-efficient properties. This ensures that you won't need to replace your windows prematurely, making Cardinal Glass windows an ideal choice for long-term homeowners. 

Glass used in budget windows may be more prone to wear and tear. These windows may have lower-quality seals and construction, reducing their ability to insulate your home effectively. This can result in higher maintenance and replacement costs in the long run.


Choosing The Right Glass For Your Replacement Windows

The decision to upgrade your windows is a substantial investment in your home. Ensuring you choose the right glass is critical to enjoying energy efficiency, comfort, and peace of mind.

When making your decision, consider the climate in which you live, your budget, and the level of energy efficiency you require. It's also beneficial to consult with a professional to assess your specific needs and explore the available options.

The glass in your windows is not something to overlook when upgrading your home.

  • Cardinal Glass sets the standard for energy efficiency and comfort, offering low U-factor, reduced SHGC, and optimal VT.
  • While budget window glass from big box stores provides affordability, it may lack the advanced features needed for peak energy efficiency.

In the end, making an informed choice depends on your climate, budget, and energy efficiency needs.

To better understand what to look for in replacement window glass and ensure you choose the right replacement windows, check out this article that outlines five questions to ask a window replacement company about replacement glass

Then, you will be confident in your decision and find the right replacement windows that meet your needs in durability, longevity, and energy efficiency.