fiberglass or aluminium screens for windows

We are going to have some replacment windows put in. We can pay a little extra for aluminium screens instead of the default fiberglass. I am curious about people's opinions. The case for and against aluminium:
+ aesthetically more pleasing? + sturdier (we don't want our cats getting out, or critters getting in, we recently found a dirty great hole in the foundation left by a possum or something)
- fiberglass will not corrode (aluminium will?) - save $10/window
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Dominic:

Never having had fiberglass screens until last summer, I hadn't realized how different they are from aluminum aesthetically. The cat issue may be decisive for you, because there's little doubt fiberglass is more fragile, though how much so I'm not prepared to say. I think fiberglass *looks* better by a large factor, but for me the main thing was that from inside they are virtually transparent (I suspect this is more a matter of color than of material); sitting on my screened porch, I'm essentially unaware of the screen between me and the world.
I myself would discount the cost difference as a trivial fraction of the total cost of window replacement. I recently replaced 16 windows, for instance, and $160 is only 1.33% of the total $12,000 it cost.
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I installed black fiberglass screening (essentially 55' linear feet worth of floor-to-ceiling screen) about 12 years ago (walls of roofed in porch in wooded area, lots of animals, flying leaves and twigs).
Chose the black fiberglass because it would otherwise obstruct our scenic view. From the inside of the house, the porch screen is almost completely invisible, even after 12 years.
I was quite worried about how long it would last, half expecting to have to replace it in a few years.
It lasted so well I installed another 40' or so last year.
[I'm glad I bought a 50M roll of 60" screen 12 years ago!]
Caveats:
The first installation is not exposed to direct sunlight. The second is in direct sunlight, and so we'll find out how well it does with UV exposure.
Over the 12 years, we had 2-3 very short rips of the larger (5'x14') panels (bird impacts[+] and squirrels climbing on it), which were repaired invisibly by weaving in a little black thread. The only "real hole" was in a small panel where a squirrel chewed his way through to get to some birdfeed accidentally left inside the screened-in area. Replaced that panel.
I think one small panel out of over 400 square feet of screen over a period of 12 years is pretty good. So, I'm very glad I went with fiberglass.
When brand new black painted aluminum might be almost as invisible, but over time it'll become much more visible.
[+] I believe we've even had hawks collide with the screen. Had a Great Grey owl hit the glass railing panel when diving on a squirrel. Huge bang. Survived fine, just a little shook up...
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dominic) wrote in message

I find the fiberglass screen material is far less durable than aluminum, especially on doors or lower windows where children are using them. The price difference should not be any $10 per window when the material is only pennies different and the labor is the same. The best thing I have seen is an extremely stretchable material that really resists punctures. I've only seen it on TV and never at the retail outlets because it costs more than all the rest. Still, it would be ideal for special situations, perhaps cats being one.
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Just mho, but we have Andersens with aluminum screens, and if I don't remove them for the winter, it's really difficult to deal with the corrosion that deposits on the outside of the glass. I'm in the Northeast, in northern PA, and have to wonder if our acid rain is a factor.
Those windows that we keep screens on year-round have to be scrubbed with a 'chore-boy' bronze scouring pad and detergent to remove the nasty stuff.
I plan on trying fiberglass screens when they need replaced for this reason. We don't have any cats, though, that probaby would be a concern.
That's my $.02 worth of experience. Hope maybe it's worth at least that much to you <grin>.
God bless,
Dave Harnish Dave's Repair Service New Albany, PA snipped-for-privacy@sosbbs.com 570-363-2404
I'm a 30-year pro appliance technician, and love sharing what I've learned - in a FREE Monthly Appliance Tips Newsletter: www.DavesRepair.com
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Dominic) wrote:

current house has had fiberglass screens going on 12 years now, and all but two held up fine. Those two where near the back door, and one of our cats (RIP) used to p-r-r-r-y-y-y himself up to window level to yell "I want in" if the window was open. This pretty much ruined the bottom parts of two screens. We replaced those two with aluminum screens, which survived the "cat treatment" quite a bit better.
In short, go with fiberglass, since it's not a bit deal to have the screening replaced with aluminum for those cases were it's necessary.
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