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Are Vinyl Windows Good?

by YanJoanne 15 Jan 2023 0 Comments

If you’re thinking about how to save energy, you might be turning down the heater in the winter or getting new lightbulbs or lower energy appliances. But there are passive, fixed things in your home which effect your energy draw more than what brand of toaster you have plugged in. Things like your floor, your roof, and your windows. Windows are by far the easier thing to replace or upgrade, however. If you’re still concerned about up-front and lifetime costs, you should look into replacing your current windows with vinyl windows.

Vinyl Replacement Windows

The term “Vinyl” for construction material is not the same as what you put on a record player. Vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride, the proper term for PVC. This common, utile and resilient polymer is highly customizable, durable and highly energy efficient. It’s also opaque, you can’t see through it. What vinyl is meant to replace is the window frame, which is what the glass window pane is installed into and set around. Vinyl is much more energy efficient than materials like aluminum, and easier to maintain than wood. It’s also the most affordable out of all the framing options.

Benefits of Vinyl Windows

Vinyl is a plentiful material that comes in many customizable colors and shapes. It’s cheap to make and cheap to buy and use without a drop in quality from products with an equal energy efficiency rating. You won’t have to worry about clashing with the existing fixtures as it can be ready-made to any specifications to mix or match in with the walls or outer siding of a house. Maintenance is also incredibly low-effort. As a polymer composite of plastics, it doesn’t degrade or rot, it’s durable enough not to crack or break from the temperature or weather, and is easy to spray and wipe down once in a while to keep dust off.

Thing to Consider Before Vinyl Window Installation

Vinyl is a great option for a budget clean up or renovation, but it does have risks. Vinyl, as a plastic, isn’t malleable. It can break or crack. These breaks, if small, can be resealed to preserve the rest of the windowframe, and they can be assembled in pieces so only part of the frame will need replacement if it breaks all the way through. Older PVC faded with age, but new manufacturing has made them last much longer. Vinyl can have a 10 to 20 year lifespan if properly maintained and safeguarded from breaks. Most paint doesn’t stick to vinyl, but newer PVC-specific paints can to help cover up marks or fading.

What are the Best Replacement Vinyl Windows?

You will want something of high quality when it comes to vinyl. Even in terms of higher quality having a matching price, vinyl remains one of the cheapest options with very few setbacks or exceptions. So it’s worth the cost to get a stronger, more reliable vinyl option for the short or long term. The best way to see that you’re getting a great replacement is to look at the inside of the window itself. Manufacturers and installation companies should have a cross-section where they cut down through the middle of the window so you can see all the things that are put inside of it, between and underneath the glass, that make up the whole of the window itself. VInyl are hollow, with thick outer layers and thin, supporting layers which keep pockets of air to prevent the material getting too hot or cold the same way window panes are spaced apart so the air between them helps manage the temperature. Some are fastened together and can be disassembled or are welded and shipped out as unbroken whole pieces. Welded windows are more durable, but harder to replace since the parts can’t be replaced one by one. The window spacers are another important part to know about: they are small pieces of material that keep the panes separate. Some can be made of material which expands and contracts along with the glass in intense heat or cold, making them more viable in environments with varied weather compared to climates that stay mostly one way throughout the year.

Quality Window Manufacturers

A good window manufacturer will be able to offer you an exceptional warranty. Anything can happen. If you have to replace a window there is bound to be a good reason, and a new window may go the same way faster than you might want. In that case, find a manufacturer who can offer a great warranty. Installation is another matter. You could get a window with a vinyl frame from a reliable manufacturer, then entrust it to a professional installer. Some manufacturers handle installations as well in a full service package. What you want to look for, and what they should offer, are specifics on the frame construction. A reliable manufacturer will show off their process, offer cross-sections and other statistic proof of their work for a discerning customer.

Some top window manufacturers in the US are:

Alside Excalibur

Andersen Windows and Doors

Cascade Windows

Earthwise Group LLC

Harvey Building Products


Marvin Windows and Doors

Milgard Windows and Doors

New South Window Solutions

Pella Corp

Ply Gem

Polaris Windows & Doors

Sierra Pacific

Weather Shield Windows and Doors

Woodgrain Millwork

Quality Window Glass Panes

Vinyl frames are only there to support the glass which they hold. Be sure the glass is double or triple paned, as these offer a far higher energy efficiency which the vinyl will help to support. Also, check to see if the windows have a treatment or a coating for high efficiency ratings, this is often called a Low-E coating. You may also want impact resistant glass to keep up with storms or loud noises which can vibrate and damage the panes. If you save money with vinyl, you can make up the cost in a high performance glass to get the best of both worlds in one window.

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