What are the pros and cons of vinyl windows?
Overall, vinyl is the most widely used material for most residential applications. Today’s vinyl compounds have great weather-ability, are easy to clean, and are virtually maintenance free. The low thermal conductivity of vinyl also makes it a great material for minimizing energy loss through the framing materials. By itself, vinyl tends not to be as strong as some other materials, and screws in vinyl tend to loosen under stress. However, if the vinyl shapes are designed with multi-hollow cavities for stiffness, and properly reinforced with aluminum in all the major structural areas, it does a great job. Vinyl’s market share continues to grow while those of other framing materials are falling.
Vinyl window frames offer many advantages because they require little maintenance and are easily manufactured into almost any shape. The thermal performance of vinyl windows depends on the type and quality of the window. Vinyl frames do not need to be painted because the color is uniform throughout. They do not swell, shrink, peel, or corrode, which make them ideal for homes and businesses near the ocean or in heavy industrial areas.
Because of the nature of the material used, vinyl window frames also have a few disadvantages. For example, they are not inherently strong or rigid. The flexible qualities of vinyl also limit the size of the frame and the weight of the glass used in it. Vinyl window frames can sometimes soften, warp, twist, and bow if heat builds up become excessive. Better quality vinyl frames are reinforced with metal to compensate for these limitations.
Dark color vinyl window frames are more susceptible to absorbing heat which causes them to soften, warp, twist, and bow if heat builds up within the frame. Many dark vinyl window frames may also fade over time. There are special dark color paints available with reflective characteristics that will minimize heat build-up and weather well over time.
Advances in vinyl technology allow quality wood-grain vinyl laminates to come very close to the look of real wood. It’s very attractive and it often matches the color of the wood trim in homes. An added benefit is that wood-grain vinyl laminates never need to be stained or sealed.