Vinyl windows are durable and long lasting and require little maintenance. They also provide excellent thermal efficiency and more but they can have some key disadvantages that most people tend to overlook until it’s too late. We’ll take a closer look at some of the disadvantages of vinyl windows when compared to other window materials in this post.
- What are vinyl windows?
- Some Disadvantages of Vinyl Windows
- Vinyl Windows Don't Have Customization Options
- Vinyl Windows Aren't As Durable as Wood Windows
- Vinyl Windows and PVC Products Can Impact The Environment
- Vinyl Windows Have Less Styling Options
- Price of Vinyl Windows
- Installation Woes with Vinyl Windows
- Window Maintenance Needed
- Durability and How Energy Efficient These Windows Are
- Weather Resistant and Climate
- Overall Appearance of the Home with New Windows
- Talk with a Contractor About Vinyl Replacement Windows First
There are lots of factors that can play into just how well a window performs and just how energy efficient the windows are. The climate of the area, weather threats such as hurricanes and more. And while these problems can exist for all windows, when it comes to vinyl windows these problems can be more impactful on the windows themselves.
What are vinyl windows?
Vinyl windows are one of the most common types of home window used today. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and you can choose from a variety of colors and finishes with the most common being white. Vinyl windows can be purchased for a new home construction or as replacement home windows.
The main benefit of vinyl windows is that they are economical for the energy efficiency that they provide. They are mass produced in standard window sizes which can help with the pricing of the windows. In fact, vinyl windows are likely the least expensive window available for most homes. These key advantages of vinyl windows are why most people choose them for their homes.
But even with a great price for the window doesn’t mean there aren’t some problems that you’ll need to be aware of.
Some Disadvantages of Vinyl Windows
Vinyl windows are great for many reasons. They’re easy to install, inexpensive to purchase, and they come in a variety of styles and colors. But there are some downsides to vinyl windows that you might want to know about. Here are some things you should consider before purchasing vinyl windows that vinyl window manufacturers don’t want you to know.
Vinyl Windows Don’t Have Customization Options
Wooden windows are often custom designed to fit the home perfectly. You can choose from a wide range of window designs and shapes, including bay windows, bow windows, picture windows, casement windows, double hung windows, fixed windows, sliding windows, and even French doors.
With vinyl windows, however, you’ll be limited to the exact style and size of each window. If you want something different, you’ll likely need to special order it. Some of the lead times on vinyl windows can also be quite long so if you plan on going the route of ordering a vinyl window make sure to inquire about lead time since the vinyl window frames will need to be special made for each order.
Vinyl Windows Aren’t As Durable as Wood Windows
Vinyl windows are typically made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is a type of plastic that’s used to make everything from shower curtains to children’s toys. While it’s strong enough to withstand most weather conditions, it doesn’t hold up well against extreme temperatures.
Vinyl windows are much like fiberglass windows but instead of using PVC, obviously fiberglass windows use fiberglass. However, with fiberglass windows there are many more options but they usually come at a higher price.
The frame on vinyl windows is also hollow with only material on the outside edges of the window whereas a wooden window will be solid. Other options such as fiberglass and aluminum windows are also hollow in the frames which offers less protection. This is also true for vinyl window replacements.
The thin layer of material on the frame can lead to cracks and peel over time in some colder climates. This makes them also susceptible to damage from high winds, snow, rain, hail, sleet, and sun. Wood windows, on the other hand, are naturally resistant to such elements.
Vinyl Windows and PVC Products Can Impact The Environment
Most wooden windows are made of materials which can be easily biodegradable and have a much lesser impact on the environment than vinyl windows. Plastics in our oceans and landfills are growing at substantial rates and choosing a more environmentally friendly option for your home windows can help to reduce our carbon footprint. Think about it, using a natural product will be much better than using a plastic material for almost anything including your window selection for your home.
Vinyl Windows Have Less Styling Options
Vinyl windows are available in many colors, sizes, styles and finishes. They come in three basic types: single hung, double hung, and sliding. Other types of windows are available as well.
While there are options available for styling vinyl windows the most prominent one is the grid design on the interior of the glass. Options for colors or getting one in wood grain is usually more of a custom window design which can drive the price of the window up.
So getting a wood grain finish on the vinyl window may actually cost much more than simply getting a wooden window to begin with. This is usually why most vinyl windows have the same smooth gloss white finish look. They can also appear as some call it: ‘plastic windows’.
Price of Vinyl Windows
The cost of vinyl windows depends on the type of window you purchase and the options that you want. More customization will mean a higher price. Most standard vinyl windows will be more economical than other options however but make sure to compare energy efficiency ratings and warranties of the windows you plan on purchasing no matter the material.
Installation Woes with Vinyl Windows
If you choose to install vinyl windows yourself, it could take several days to complete. If you hire a professional installer, installation can take about one day. In either case, the process involves cutting out the old frame, installing the new vinyl windows, caulking, and painting.
If you’re planning on getting replacement windows for your home and buying vinyl windows make sure you choose a replacement window. If not, most new construction vinyl windows will have nail fins which will need to be installed under siding and molding on the window frame.
Window Maintenance Needed
Most modern windows have very little maintenance requirements. Window guides and internal mechanisms are already lubricated and will not need to be serviced typically. Simple cleaning is all that is needed on most windows including vinyl windows.
Vinyl windows will not need to be painted initially like wooden windows will need. This can be considered as part of the installation and if a good paint is used on the wooden window, the maintenance requirements for the two windows are almost identical.
Durability and How Energy Efficient These Windows Are
Vinyl windows will hold up better than wood windows over the long term if you only compare the window frames. However, window frames aren’t usually the part of the window that fails over time. The window sash is typically the problem in most home windows.
Once the glass in your home windows lose pressure it can significantly decrease the windows energy efficiency. You may notice condensation on the interior of the glass which is a clear indication of this problem. On some windows, just the sash can be replaced while on others, you’ll need a new window.
So in reality, the fact that vinyl can last for hundreds or thousands of years may not help keep your home’s energy efficiency where it should be. The energy efficiency rating that is displayed on the window should be used to determine just how much the new windows can lower your energy bill and whether they are Energy Star Compliant.
Weather Resistant and Climate
Heat and cold cause plastic to stretch and shrink more than wood which can be a problem that can create drafts and cracks in the window. You’ll also need to consider local weather threats such as hurricanes or any other extreme weather conditions that your home windows may have. You can check with local building codes to find out exactly what type of window you’ll need.
Overall Appearance of the Home with New Windows
Vinyl windows are one of the most popular window choices because they are inexpensive, look great, are easy to install, and come in a wide variety of styles. They are also extremely durable and long lasting but are usually limited in the range of colors that are available. However, they can sometimes appear less ‘homey’ than other window options.
Wood grain windows can sometimes give the appearance of a warmth that simply isn’t reproducible with vinyl windows. Depending on your home’s designs the wood windows may actually bring the curb appeal of the home much higher which can certainly help the value of the home. They can also provide great cost savings over time and you’ll enjoy real wood windows in your home.
Talk with a Contractor About Vinyl Replacement Windows First
If you’re considering replacing the windows in your home be sure to talk with a licensed contractor about the options that are available with both wood and vinyl windows. Get a quote and consultation today by using the form below: