Fiberglass screen is the most common type of screen used for enclosures, but polyester screen has several advantages. Since polyester screen is more expensive, the question becomes: is the difference worth the extra cost? Either kind serves a purpose and, depending on your goals, may be the right screen for your home. When it comes to polyester screens, there are currently 3 brands all producing a VERY comparable mesh (we believe they are all manufactured in the same facility and just get their own brand packing), Ultrascreen, Superscreen and Tuff Screen.
Polyester mesh is incredibly strong. In fact, it’s over 100% stronger than standard American-made fiberglass screen. According to information published online by Super Screen, a brand of polyester screen, the warp tensile strength of fiberglass screen is only 78.8 pounds force, while that of their product is 112.5 lbf. They list the warp tear strength as 14.0 lbf and the fill tear strength of fiberglass screen as 9.9 lbf, but Super Screen as 31.5 lbf for warp and 27.2 lbf for fill. The ball burst strength of Super Screen is also impressive at 188 lbs, compared to only 61 lbs. for fiberglass screen. Ultra-Screen, another polyester screen, has 141.6 tensile warp strength, 151.8 tensile fill strength, and 268.0 psi burst strength.
***Side note on strength: Initially both screens are ‘strong’, albeit the fiberglass not nearly as strong as polyester, but not a ‘weak’ material. HOWEVER, as the materials age under the Florida sun the fiberglass materials quickly deteriorate and lose their original strength and color.
The warranty for polyester Super Screen is a full ten years, although tests have shown it can last over twice as long. UltraScreen polyester mesh also has a ten-year warranty. Fiberglass screens don’t last as long, and so don’t have this type of warranty. This means that, while you will typically need to rescreen your pool cage, screen lanai or screen room within a few years of installing fiberglass screen, you shouldn’t have to put on new screen for a very long time if you choose polyester screen in the first place.
No See Ums
Neither standard 14/16 polyester screen nor standard 18/14 fiberglass screen keeps out small bugs like no see ums. Most Florida residents who have been in the state for years are quite used to these critters and may not even notice them anymore. However, if you’re new to Florida and unaccustomed to the itchy nuisance of no see ums, you might prefer the 17/20 polyester mesh or 20/20 fiberglass mesh. Its holes are so small that even these tiny, nearly-invisible bugs can’t get through.
Once you invest in a screen enclosure, you’ll want to keep it clean and in good repair. Powerwashing is a great way to keep your screen clean, but you can’t use that method on fiberglass screen after a few years. But, you can always powerwash polyester screen as long as you have it.
If the screen does tear and you need a panel replaced here and there, you will have to pay a higher price and usually a service call charge for replacement. With a Polyester screen such as UltraScreen or Super Screen, however you’re much less likely to need to do it (get a service call for repair). Recall from the first paragraph, that the polyester screens are much stronger, and the fiberglass weaken with exposure to the elements. After a couple years, a strong gust of wind, power washer, or weed whacker could easily tear the fiberglass material.
Fiberglass tends to change colors very quickly. Polyester screen, on the other hand, never does. This increases its long-term visual appeal over fiberglass. You should never have to rescreen due to color changes after screening with UltraScreen or Super Screen polyester materials, but you might if you’ve used fiberglass and want to maintain its appearance.
So, which screen should you buy? Should you pay more for the advantages of polyester screen? The most important factor in your decision about which screen to use is how long you plan to own your home.
If you only plan to spend a few short years in your current home, you may want to use the less expensive fiberglass screen. You can choose between a standard 18/14 fiberglass mesh or a 20/20 no see um fiberglass mesh. The strength won’t matter as much unless there’s a storm severe enough to damage it. You won’t be able to powerwash it after a few years, but that’s okay if you don’t plan to be there very long.
On the other hand, if you intend to make this house your forever home, you’ll want the better polyester screen that lasts longer, has a longer warranty, is stronger, and is easier to maintain. For you, getting the better product is well worth the additional cost. You’ll have a stronger, longer-lasting screen enclosure that stays beautiful for many years into the future.