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Fiberglass Vs Pleated Air Filters: Which Is Better?

Fiberglass air filters? Pleated air filters? When you have so many air-filter options to choose from, it can be overwhelming sometimes. You have to consider many factors such as the price, the replacement frequency, the airflow/restriction, the construction quality, and the MERV rating. If you buy the cheapest air filter for your budget, it may seem like a good idea, but it may not be the best long-term air filter option available for your family, home, or HVAC system

While there are various air filters available, most shoppers end up choosing between pleated and fiberglass furnace filters. So the question is: what is the difference between pleated and fiberglass air filters? Which one is better? Let’s take a look in detail.

Fiberglass Air Filters

A fiberglass filter is made of spun glass and protected with a cardboard frame. Since the materials used to make them are so inexpensive, they are extremely popular. They are readily available for as little as $1.00 each. 

Using fiberglass filters is usually justified by the buyer to save money, but keep in mind that you'll have to replace these filters monthly, and you will ultimately get what you pay for. Another reason why people choose these filters is that they provide the least amount of airflow resistance for HVAC systems.

Their MERV rating is between 1 and 4 (low), and they trap around 80% of particles larger than 50 microns and 25% of particles smaller than 3 microns. Their main purpose is to protect your HVAC unit from large dust particles; however, they do not trap mold, pollen, or other small particles and are not recommended for homes with people with allergies.


  • Cost-effective: Fiberglass filters cost just a few dollars.
  • Filter larger particles: Fiberglass is great for capturing dust and lint.
  • Air Filtration: The fiberglass media of non-restrictive filters is very porous and does not restrict airflow. Nevertheless, fiberglass filters should typically be replaced every 30 days in order to prevent the filter from becoming fully loaded with debris and pollutants, preventing air from passing through easily.


  • High Replacement Frequency: Fiberglass air filters must be replaced every 30 days.
  • Filtering capability is limited: Since they don't have a lot of surface area, they don't filter out smaller items such as pollen, bacteria, or viruses. Due to this, they are not suitable for people with allergies, asthma, or other sensitivities.
  • Less availability & variety: Filters made of fiberglass are usually found at the lower end of the spectrum, with ratings ranging from one to four or five. Therefore, they don't have many options in terms of more efficient filters for smaller particles.

Pleated Air Filters

Pleated air filters are made from cotton, paper, or polyester sheets that are folded into pleats, increasing their surface area.

Despite the fact that pleated air filters are not the cheapest option, they provide better air filtration than fiberglass panel filters. With pleated synthetic fiber media, these filters provide a large surface area for capturing more airborne pollutants. These filters also have an expanded metal backing and a heavy-duty frame. Pleated AC/furnace filters have a MERV rating of 8-13 and can last up to 90 days without replacement. While some older HVAC systems may be strained with pleated filters and experience less airflow, most modern HVAC systems have been improved so that pleated filters have no impact on performance. By using synthetic media in these filters, you can trap and block smaller particles of air in your environment for a longer period of time than with fiberglass filters.


  • Filter out more debris: Pleated air filters contain more surface area, so they capture more - and smaller - debris. They may filter out pollen, pet dander, bacteria, and some viruses, depending on the MERV rating. Therefore, pleated air filters are a great choice for anyone with allergies, asthma, or similar sensitivities.
  • Less Replacement Frequency: Depending on the time of year and the atmosphere in your home or office, pleated filters can last up to 90 days before needing to be replaced.
  • Environment friendly: Depending on where you live, pleated air filters may be recyclable. Contact your local authorities for more information.
  • Greater availability & variety: Pleated filters are widely available and designed to work with furnaces with any MERV rating, and to remove smaller toxins that often trigger allergic reactions. 
  • High efficiency: The pleating actually means that they are larger, allowing them to capture more contaminants in the same amount of space. The MERV rating of these units is much broader, so you can get one that traps smaller particles, as well as the main contaminants responsible for irritating any respiratory system.


  • Expensive: Pleated air filters may cost a little more - they range from $5 to $15 - but you get what you pay for.

So, Which Air Filter is Right For You?

If you want long-term savings and high-quality filters that will need to be changed often, less pleated air filters are the best choice for you. In the case of allergies or respiratory problems, they are an excellent option because they're efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable.

Choosing fiberglass air filters is a great option if you're looking for a traditional, no-nonsense filter that will provide you with basic protection at an affordable price.

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If you have any questions about which air filter is best for your home and HVAC system (or any other questions about AC, custom air filters, Whole House filters or Grille filters), we have an experienced staff ready to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We carry humidifier filters and pads for all major manufacturers (including Air King, American Standard, AprilaireGeneralAire and Honeywell). In our role as an air filter manufacturer, we have uniquely positioned to custom manufacture any and all types of air filters. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.


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