Years ago, vinyl-framed windows were considered a cheap and unattractive alternative to wood. However, recent advancements in design have not only increased their appearance and appeal, but also made them more energy-efficient than just about any other frames on the market.
As a result, and because of their lower cost, vinyl windows have since become a much more popular option. Unfortunately, the market is full of vinyl windows that may not stand up to par. To get the best possible window for your money, it is important to understand how to choose the best one for your home.
This guide will help you understand more about vinyl windows, including factors to ensure the highest quality (and return on investment) possible.
Look for high-quality vinyl
In the industry, the term “vinyl windows” refers to the material of the frame around the window (just as “aluminum windows” would refer to an aluminum frame).
Vinyl frames are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is comprised of multiple chemicals, fillers, plasticizers and pigments. All of those additives affect the quality of the vinyl. In other words, not all vinyl frames are manufactured the same.
If you want windows that last for decades, it is critical you look for frames made of high-quality vinyl. This is because the best vinyl will protect your windows from fading, warping, rusting, brittleness, and even rot.
So how do you know if the vinyl frame you’re looking at is of the best quality?
First, look at its colour. A bluish tint reflects a lower quality vinyl frame that will eventually yellow and fade. High quality vinyl, however, will never yellow or fade, because its PVC has high amounts of additives including organic tin and titanium dioxide.
Second, find out the construction of the frame. There are two main methods used to assemble vinyl frames: by welding, or with mechanical connections. Frames built with brackets, screws and caulking are prone to breakage during transport or installation. Conversely, welding is another indicator of high-quality vinyl windows, because it takes advantage of vinyl’s chemistry, working with the PVC to create a smooth and strong vinyl seal.
Third, try to get a look at the inner-workings (also called the “cross-section”) of the frame design. A higher number of empty chambers points to higher quality—as well as better insulation and energy efficiency.
Consider glass quality for energy efficiency
Frame construction and appearance are not the only two factors to consider when selecting vinyl windows. You should also pay attention to the quality of the glass, which can affect your home’s energy efficiency.
First, look for the U-value (also called the U-factor). This rating indicates the insulation properties of your windows. The lower the U-factor number, the more efficient it is. In Canada, all windows with the ENERGY STAR® symbol display the U-value on the label.
Second, consider double- or triple-glazing (also referred to as double-glazed or triple-glazed windows). The term refers to the number of panes or layers that make up your window. A spacer separates the panes, and those “pockets” of air are filled with inert gas to slow the transfer of heat through the window. Working in conjunction with airtight seals and frames, double- and triple-glazing prevents any leakage and have consequently become the standard of energy-efficient windows.
Together with a high-quality frame, your energy-efficient vinyl windows will offer you several benefits including lower utility bills, increased comfort, and more.
Styles and colours
You should ensure the overall look will complement your home. As you shop for vinyl windows, consider your home’s architecture and age and what styles may best fit the aesthetic.
Also consider the location of your window. For example, do you really need a single-hung window in your basement, or would a different style be better? Learn about the types of windows that work best in different spaces, and reach out to a professional window installation company to help guide you in the decision-making process.
Vinyl cannot be painted; however, vinyl frames come in a variety of finishes and colours. Some manufacturers will produce frames with two colours: one for the exterior of your home, and another for the interior. Don’t forget that quality vinyl retains its vibrance, meaning you won’t ever have to worry about the colour fading!
Don’t go DIY with installation
The success of your vinyl windows is not only reliant on the factors above; having them professionally installed is also a vital step in the process. An expert will ensure your windows are measured and installed so you can experience optimal benefits for years to come.
Don’t be afraid to ask for warranty information. The window company you select should offer a warranty on their products, construction and installation work. For example, here at Weaver Exterior Remodeling, we offer our customers a unique Lifetime Warranty that covers all window components including insulated glass, window frames and window sashes, hardware and even accidental glass breakage. The Weaver Lifetime Warranty is fully transferable and comes at no additional charge.
With over 30 years in the business, Weaver Exterior Remodeling has become one of the three top window installation companies in Barrie. We invite you to get started today by setting up a free quote with us, or browse our online gallery of past work.