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Understanding Vinyl Replacement Windows

Understanding Vinyl Replacement Windows header

Why Vinyl Replacement Windows?

Vinyl Replacement windows are king, let’s find out why.

When it comes time to replace old, drafty windows, most homeowners look for new windows that aren’t only attractive, but also energy efficient. And that’s a very smart strategy. The top two reasons for installing vinyl replacement windows are to enhance the curb appeal of your home and to reduce heating and cooling costs.

It’s equally important that replacement windows be ruggedly built, easy to clean, very low-maintenance, and reasonably priced. They must be readily available in a wide range of sizes and styles to complement your home and easily fit within the existing rough openings. And don’t even consider a replacement window if it doesn’t have a long history of reliable, weather-tight performance in all types of weather.

There are many different kinds of replacement windows available, including those made from wood, aluminum and composite materials. However, an overwhelming number of homeowners and remodeling contractors choose vinyl replacement windows over all other types. And when you compare the benefits and features of vinyl, it’s easy to understand why.

 

Vinyl Replacement Windows: Simply Better

vinyl window exterior in winterThe first thing you need to know about vinyl replacement windows is that they’re not new-fangled or unproven. Vinyl windows have been available for nearly 50 years, and an astonishing 70 percent of all windows now manufactured in the U.S. are made of vinyl.

Vinyl replacement windows are often called all-vinyl windows to differentiate them from vinyl-clad windows, which are wood windows that have a thin layer of vinyl applied to the exterior surfaces. All-vinyl replacement windows have window frames and sash frames are made of extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  The same durable plastic polymer used to manufacture countless building products, including plumbing pipes, electrical wire insulation, exterior house trim, siding, and doors. The resilient nature of PVC makes vinyl windows particularly effective in climates that experience a large temperature swing between the summer and winter months.

Set within each sash frame is an insulated glass panel comprised of two glass panes that are separated by an air space. Better-quality windows have thick vinyl extrusions with welded corners that create a super-strong, rigid frame. And the space between the glass panes is filled with argon gas or has a Low-E film that helps to block out solar heat in the summer. For even greater energy efficiency — and noise reduction — consider windows with triple glazing, which is three panes of glass with two insulating air spaces.

And when it comes to low-maintenance materials, few products can compete with vinyl. Unlike wood windows, vinyl never needs painting, scraping or sanding. It’s also impervious to rot, water damage, and wood-boring bugs and birds. Vinyl can be restored to like-new condition with an occasional scrubbing with warm, soapy water. And vinyl windows don’t transfer heat and cold through the frame and sash, as is common with aluminum windows.

vinyl window types

Your Window Style Choices

Vinyl replacement windows are available in nearly every imaginable style, including double-hung, casement, slider, awning, hopper, bay, and bow, so you’re sure to find one to suit your home. Now, in most cases, old windows are replaced with the same style of new window, but that doesn’t mean you can’t install a different style of window. For example, consider replacing an old double-hung unit with a new casement, or upgrade from a flat picture window to a bay or bow window.

Just keep in mind that changing window styles can alter the architectural look of your home. And to control costs, be sure the new window fits into the existing rough opening. You want to avoid having to reframe the old opening to accommodate the new window, if at all possible because it’ll significantly increase installation costs. Fortunately, vinyl windows come in custom sizes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding ones to fit the rough openings in your house.

cleaning a vinyl double hung window

 

When shopping for double-hung replacement windows the sashes tilt in for easy cleaning. That provides a safe, convenient way to clean both sides of the glass from inside the room. If you’re considering new casements, confirm that when the window is cranked fully open, you can comfortably reach between the side jamb and sash to clean the outer glass surface.

If you’re looking for an unusually shaped window, look for a vinyl window manufacturer that offers a line of specialty windows, such as round top, full circle, octagon, palladium, transom and octagonal windows. Also ask about glazing options, including etched designs and decorative grilles.

At one time, not too long ago, vinyl replacement windows were available in only one color: white. And while white continues to be the most popular color by far, vinyl windows are also commonly available in beige and brown. Some manufacturers even offer vinyl windows with a realistic-looking wood-grain finish on the interior, which resembles stained oak.

 

6 More Replacement Window Benefits

As mentioned earlier, the two main reasons to install replacement windows are to enhance the appearance of your home and to cut energy costs. And if that were all, it would still be worth it. But here are six other, less-obvious benefits that can be realized with new replacement windows:

New windows block out noise and dust for quieter, cleaner homes.

  • Tax deductions are commonly available with Energy Star-rated replacement windows.
  • New windows lock tightly closed for safer, more secure homes.
  • The sash open and close easily and smoothly.
  • Replacement windows can increase your home’s value by as much as 97 percent of the total cost of the new windows, according to some estimates.
  • If you are selling your home, new windows will help it sell faster and at a higher price.

 

Installation Advice

Vinyl replacement windows install as easily as any other type of window. However, no window, no matter how well it’s built, will perform as engineered if it’s installed incorrectly. That’s why it’s critically important to consider a window manufacturer that offers in-house installation services (as opposed to one that hires sub-contractors). It’s the very best way to ensure that your beautiful new windows will be installed properly for optimum performance, energy efficiency and long life.