Fiberglass vs Pleated Air Filters

When it comes to choosing an air filter, having several options to choose from can make the decision more overwhelming than anticipated. Most consumers, though, end up at the same crossroads: fiberglass air filters or pleated air filters.

The two most important factors are cost and air quality - homeowners want their filters to effectively control air quality without having to pay a fortune for it. Fiberglass filters are the cheaper option, but buying filters based solely on the initial price does not guarantee quality air for your home.

Fiberglass air filters

Fiberglass filters are made with spun glass that is encased in a cardboard frame. Often the biggest selling point of fiberglass filters is that they are inexpensive, since the materials they are made with are very affordable. You can get these filters for as low as $1. However, there are several drawbacks to fiberglass air filters that need to be considered.

  • You get what you pay for. While fiberglass filters are cheaper than pleated air filters, they do not trap nearly as many particles as pleated air filters do. They only pick up larger pollutants that are common in the air of a home, such as lint or dust. However, because the material is more porous, smaller particles like animal dander, smoke and bacteria are not filtered as effectively. On a 1-20 MERV rating scale, fiberglass air filters typically have a rating of 2-3.
  • Fiberglass filters need to be replaced more often. Their surface area is small and cannot hold as many particles as pleated filters and need to be replaced every month. Because of this, fiberglass filters can be more expensive in the long run because you are buying more filters.
  • The materials used to make fiberglass filters cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable.

Pleated air filters

Pleated air filters are made from sheets of cotton, paper or polyester that are folded into pleats, which increases their surface area. They are more expensive than fiberglass filters initially - ranging from $5-$20 - but are the superior choice for home air filters for the following reasons:

  • Pleated air filters provide better overall air quality, with MERV ratings ranging from 7-13. Their increased surface area picks up more debris and pollutants than fiberglass filters, such as pollen and pet dander in addition to picking up dirt and dust and larger allergen debris. This makes pleated filters perfect for those with allergies or respiratory problems.
  • They don’t need to be replaced as often as fiberglass filters. Pleated air filters typically last 90 days before needing to be replaced, meaning you're getting more value from what you spend. This can lead to pleated filters being less expensive overall than fiberglass filters.
  • Pleated air filters can be recycled upon their disposal, thereby making them an eco-friendlier choice than fiberglass filters.

a picture of merv 13 air filters from Filterbuy

Because of their benefits, pleated filters are more expensive than fiberglass filters, ranging from $5 to $20 per filter, but the pros of pleated filters far outweigh the cons. Additionally, there are easy ways to save money per filter when buying pleated. Buying in bulk is a great option - for example, those who buy 3 pleated filters from us (enough to last the year) save about 50% on the per unit cost.

FilterBuy highly recommends pleated air filters over fiberglass filters for use in homes or businesses. We offer pleated air filters in various sizes with MERV 8, MERV 11 and MERV 13 ratings, and you can order them in any quantity.

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