At AM Window & Door Solutions we offer many different options when it comes to your window projects. If you’re still living with old windows and haven’t investigated what options you have, you might start to feel overwhelmed. With so many options, a common window you’re bound to come across is the vinyl window. If you haven’t thought much about your windows, you might be asking yourself “what’s a vinyl window and what makes it different from other types of windows?”
What Is a Vinyl Window and How Long Have They Been Around?
When you’re looking at replacing windows one of the most common window materials you will come across is vinyl. Vinyl is an umbrella term for PVC (Poly-vinyl Chloride), which is a type of plastic. However, unlike the plastics you find in cheap dollar store toys, the PVC used in windows are mixed with particular additives to give the windows durability and UV resistance.
Historically, the earliest vinyl windows were manufactured by BF Goodrich Company in the late 50s. In the late 50s manufacturing a window out of vinyl made sense because of the lower cost associated with using vinyl, and unlike wooden windows, vinyl windows were far more durable; cheaper windows with higher durability seemed like the perfect product. Unfortunately BF Goodrich’s design didn’t catch on due in part to the perception in the 50s that plastic products were low end.
It wasn’t until the late 60s that vinyl windows started to catch on in North America when replacement vinyl windows were introduced into the market. With new technologies being implemented into vinyl windows, and higher quality vinyl windows being introduced to the market, by the 1990s vinyl windows had become the predominant window choice for people renovating their homes and for home builders.
What Are The Advantages of a Vinyl Window?
Unlike wooden windows, the most obvious advantage of a vinyl window is that they are not prone to rotting. In addition, because vinyl windows are made of a hard PVC, the chances of insects or bugs penetrating the framing of the window are nearly impossible, and granted the vinyl window was constructed with care, the windows themselves are not prone to cracking or warping.
However, a consideration to make when selecting vinyl windows is the type of PVC mixture that the window is made of. If the vinyl window is made of a recycled PVC it can have potential structural issues over its lifespan. When looking at windows, it’s best to consider a window using virgin PVC as this means your window frame is less likely to warp or crack in mitre joints.
Another advantage to a vinyl window over aluminum or wood windows is the thermal resistance that vinyl windows can offer. Aluminum windows can typically conduct cold air and make rooms feel drafty, whereas vinyl windows are a lot more air tight. Inside many vinyl windows you will find air chambers that are designed to cycle air away from the inside of the home without causing structural damage to the frame itself; a good rule of thumb is a good vinyl window will typically house more chambers inside the frame than a cheap vinyl window would.
A long with a thermally resistant frame, vinyl windows commonly house better thermal units than the single pane aluminum/wood windows you’ll find in older homes. Thermal units, or IG units (insulating glass units), are the actual panes of glass that you look out of. Between these panes of glass is typically a dense air fill, in the form of argon gas or krypton gas, that serves as an insulating factor between the windows. Keep in mind you can get contemporary wood or aluminum windows with these same style of IG units, but because vinyl windows typically have more thermally resistant frames, the IG units tend to perform better in vinyl windows.
Vinyl windows have also become a mainstay in the renovation market because of the cost effectiveness when it comes to custom options for a house. With PVC being relatively easy to produce, having custom window sizing and components is relatively easy when it comes to a vinyl window. Unlike contemporary aluminum or wooden windows that have a more involved manufacturing process that result in hefty price points when it comes to custom sizing and shapes. This is not to say that higher quality custom vinyl windows can not become costly, but typically these costs are far less than custom wooden or aluminum windows.
How Long Will Vinyl Windows Last?
Most contemporary vinyl windows are rated to be lifetime products. A large part of this lifetime rating is due in part to the high durability of vinyl. With vinyl windows using PVC, windows will not rot the way a wooden window would rot. Vinyl windows are also less likely to have critters or insects destroying the frame of the window like a wooden window might. Granted the window is a quality vinyl window, the thermal units are less likely to fail as quickly as old style wooden windows did meaning that vinyl windows are also going to be more functional over their lifespan.
Largely credited to the durability of vinyl, many contemporary vinyl window manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties on their windows. Typically these warranties cover the frames and function of the window, with some manufacturers even offering lifetime coverage on mechanisms such as latches or cranks. Keep in mind that cheaper manufacturers may not cover things like cracking or thermal warpage on their windows, but in general quality window manufacturers are more likely to warranty more components related to their windows.
With the lifespan of modern vinyl windows being much longer than older style windows, many vinyl window manufacturers offer transferable warranty packages on their windows. Transferable warranty packages mean that not only will future homeowners be protected in the event something goes wrong with their vinyl windows, but vinyl windows will offer a greater return on investment in the long run.