Understanding Vinyl Windows: Pros & Cons
Vinyl windows have become the most popular style of window replacement on the market. There is a number of reasons why vinyl has become the trendy new material for window design.
First, it’s affordable. Vinyl is substantially cheaper than wood and fiberglass. The only other comparable type of window material in terms of price is aluminum, and many homeowners are opposed to installing metal windows.
Vinyl is also durable and requires little long-term maintenance. The product is shipped in a variety of different colors and textures and never needs to be repainted or stained. It also withstands moisture well.
Are you considering new vinyl windows? Here is all you need to know to understand vinyl windows:
Types of Windows
Before we discuss the pros and cons of vinyl windows let’s see how it stacks up to other types of windows:
- Wood Windows: The look of wood is impossible to replicate yet vinyl and fiberglass are capable of matching it much closer than in the past. Wood has a long tradition and some homeowners prefer it on old, historic homes for replacements. However, it doesn’t resist water moisture nearly as well as other types of windows.
- Aluminum Windows: Aluminum is the only other type of window material that stacks up with vinyl in terms of price. Aluminum is very affordable and lightweight, providing solid long term durability too. The biggest knock is that its metal and some homeowners dislike metal on windows.
- Fiberglass Windows: Fiberglass is the premium material for windows these days. The problem is not every homeowner can afford it. Window replacements are expensive by default, and fiberglass is a whole other level. It is exceptional in every critical assessment and really doesn’t have many flaws.
Vinyl windows were first introduced to the market in the late 1950s, yet really didn’t take off until the 1990s. Since that time, it has quietly emerged as the de facto choice for new homes built, and a large number of replacement windows are also getting ordered in the same style.
The windows are manufactured with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which can get produced with either recycled or pure vinyl substances. Pure virgin vinyl windows are considered the most durable and long lasting.
Vinyl is a very flexible option for a window replacement. It passes the three important tests:
- How affordable is it? Vinyl is very affordable.
- Is it built to last? Yes, vinyl has a long life span especially for the price paid.
- Does it require a lot of time and money for upkeep? No, vinyl is very maintenance free.
There is no such thing as a building product that’s completely maintenance free, especially on the exterior of a home, yet vinyl is about as close as it comes. Windows are known to rot and crack and peel, especially with old-fashioned wood. However, vinyl is sold with a color picked out by you and doesn’t need to get repainted ever.
Advantages of Vinyl Windows
There are many pros to buying vinyl replacement windows. Here are some of the best features:
- Energy Efficiency: Vinyl has a really strong track record when it comes to energy efficiency. Vinyl has strong thermal performance ratings which means it’ll help reduce the cost of your energy bills, and provide less stress and wear on your HVAC systems. Vinyl is arguably the best at limiting air drafts, especially if installed correctly.
- Affordability: Everyone likes a great deal so we would be lying if we didn’t highlight the affordability of vinyl windows. Yet, there’s a difference between a cheap product and a cheap price. Vinyl doesn’t feel cheap at all. It is very durable and can last for decades (longer than wood). So you get a ton of bang for the buck.
- Low Maintenance: Vinyl passes all the traditional hassles most homeowners experience with other types of windows. They are easier to install compared to other products, easy to keep clean and require very little yearly maintenance. One of the biggest advantages is not having to repaint the window frame every few years.
- Improved Selection: When vinyl windows were first introduced in the 60s the biggest complaint wasn’t about durability. The color of the window would fade over time, which failed to live up to the promise of never having to repaint them. However, recent improvements in manufacturing technology, as well as a higher selection of options because of vinyl’s popularity has led to the best window variety on the market.
- Outstanding Warranties: Not only are vinyl windows affordable but some of the best manufacturers back the product with a lifetime guarantee. Where else can you find that type of manufacturer promise? If you ever sell your home, the lifetime warranties are a great selling point for prospective buyers.
Disadvantages of Vinyl Windows
There are very few disadvantages to vinyl windows. However, here are the biggest complaints:
- Less Variety in Colors & Styles: While the selection has vastly improved with the increased popularity in vinyl, it still doesn’t offer the same customization as wood. Homeowners simply don’t quite get the same range of colors and styles to select from when trying to match windows with doors, siding, or roofing.
- Less Flexibility with Future Home Improvements: One issue with vinyl is the color and style you order is permanently in place once the product gets installed. Therefore, if later on the road you want to replace a roof or siding, or repaint the entire exterior then you’ll need to match the vinyl windows and not the other way around.
- Not the Most Eco-Friendly Choice: Vinyl windows require chemicals to produce the material. Consequently, it’s not nearly as eco-friendly as other building materials used for windows in an era where “green building techniques” are trending on the market. Unfortunately, vinyl is not a natural product and thus produces an impact on the environment.
Final Verdict: Vinyl Window Replacements
There are numerous benefits to vinyl window replacements. They are very affordable and have long-term advantages. It is a good product for the common homeowner that doesn’t have a ton of money or time to invest in window upkeep in the future.
The selection of styles and colors for vinyl has greatly improved and it’s possible to find a type of window perfect for your needs.