The majority of windows sold in the U.S. today have vinyl frames. Discover the options and advantages to choosing vinyl windows.
6 reasons to go vinyl
- Whether frames are hollow or insulated, vinyl windows have more inherent insulating ability than aluminum. Some wood windows preclude wood's intolerance to weather with exterior vinyl cladding.
- Double-paned windows with low-emission, or "low-e,"coatings may be almost as effective as a third pane.
- Color permeates the vinyl, making repainting unnecessary. There are dozens of colors, as well as textures and shades, that closely resemble natural, stained wood.
- Vinyl windows require only periodic washing for maintenance. Parts can be easily replaced.
- Styles are numerous and include custom applications.
- Vinyl windows with ENERGY STAR labels are manufactured to close tolerance.
Energy efficiency effects prices and brands
There are few situations in which energy efficiency isn't a factor in window choice. The U.S. Department of Energy's website explains how to understand their regionally adapted ENERGY STAR label. The National Fenestration Ratings Council's website explains their window performance technical ratings. Of course, you expect to pay more for a large, solid core, major brand vinyl window with triple-pane glass, than for that cheap replacement window destined for the garage.
To illustrate the range of prices, here's a ballpark comparison of three ENERGY STAR windows, all double-hung style with low-e coatings, 3-feet wide by 4-feet tall:
- Contractor grade, off-the-shelf, double pane from major building supply stores: roughly $130.00
- Better grade, double-paned vinyl windows from the same source: about $300.00
- Triple pane with solid vinyl frame: around $900
Many manufacturers have window series ranging from contractor grade to custom. Brands are too numerous to list all of them here, but Anderson, CertainTeed, Jeld-wen, Milgard, Pella and Simonton are recognized leaders in the industry.
Tailor window styles and types to meet needs
The architecture of your home and the climate in your region will likely influence whether you choose multi-paned, Mediterranean, Craftsman or another style of window. Each room's height, view, direction and orientation to prevailing weather calls for a specific type of window. Awning windows may be preferable to double-hung styles in rainy areas. Casement windows obstruct views less than double-hungs. Hopper windows work well in basements, or as ventilation-enhancing transoms. East- and west-facing windows may bake a home's interior, suggesting triple panes or low-e coatings to stabilize interior temperatures. The presence of strong wind storms may require windows with wind and impact-resistance. You'll find architectural styles to match all these window types.
A long-range approach to colors
Yes, you'll be dazzled by vinyl windows' color choices. Keep in mind that painting your vinyl windows may void the warranty. This means that sometimes the color of your exterior walls is more easily changed than your vinyl windows' frames. Keeping the frame color in the neutral to natural range won't limit future exterior paint colors--an important resale consideration. White, off-white, tan, brown, black or a woodsy green can work with many wall paint choices.
Call in the experts
Home design magazines and retail showrooms are great sources for basic ideas and information about vinyl windows. Still, nothing beats talking with someone who works with windows day-in and day-out. Fill out the form on this page to tap in to free input from a local expert. He or she can help you make the optimum decisions about the many choices available in today's vinyl window marketplace.