Since the 1990s, homeowners across the nation have favored vinyl windows. At the time, these were treated as the better option compared to wooden windows, as they were cheaper yet more appealing.

Today, in 2019, vinyl windows are still a good choice.

Now, before you select your windows, you may have some questions. What exactly are vinyl windows made of?

Vinyl Window Material

The question of what vinyl windows are made of seems like it has an easy answer, doesn’t it?

You’d probably think that the answer is vinyl.

You are a little bit correct. Getting specific, vinyl windows are built from polyvinyl chloride, which is commonly known as PVC.

What Is PVC?

PVC material

PVC is a synthetic plastic polymer. It’s very common and one of the most popular polymers used today.

 PVC is often used to make plumbing pipes, but it also has its place in window design.

That’s because PVC can be either flexible or rigid. If the plastic is rigid, it may be called RPVC.

Another nickname for this material is uPVC, which stands for unplasticized polyvinyl chloride.

It’s this type of PVC that your vinyl windows are likely made of.

Parts of the world like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland favor uPVC more than some other countries.

In the US specifically, uPVC is called vinyl.

uPVC can withstand water oxidation, sunlight effects, and chemicals.

It’s no wonder you can often find this type of vinyl around all parts of your home, such as your downspouts, gutters, drainpipes, waste pipes, weatherboarding, siding, and fascia.

Now if your current windows are single-pane, then vinyl windows will make for a perfect replacement.

Vinyl windows will not fade or wear down from the effects of weather. They’re also far less likely to decompose.

You can even get vinyl windows which replicate the look of wood. You’d never be able to tell the difference.

Speaking of wood, there is another type of PVC that resembles it quite closely. It’s called cellular PVC. This is named such because of its structure, which is more cellular than any other types of vinyl plastic out there.

It may also come with a foam interior. Cellular PVC is known for its durability, which explains why it’s often used for sash rails, jambs, sills, brick mold, and other parts of your window that would otherwise be made of wood.

What Are the Advantages of Vinyl Windows?

Now that you know a little bit more about what comprises vinyl windows, let’s talk about the benefits.

We mentioned earlier in this article that these windows tend to cost less than some other window types, but does that still hold true today?

What are some other advantages of vinyl windows?

They’re Inexpensive.

When vinyl windows first came onto the market, their major selling point was they were cheaper than wooden windows. Just because they cost less doesn’t mean you’re scrimping on quality, of course.

Are that vinyl windows still more inexpensive than wooden ones? Most of the time, yes. They’re also less costly than composite and fiberglass windows.

Remember that, no matter which types of windows you’re looking to buy, there will always be cheaper and more expensive brands and varieties.

Typically, the more you pay, the better the quality of the windows. Still, the overall price for your window replacement project will often be less by choosing vinyl over wood or fiberglass windows.

Little to No Maintenance

Are you the type who doesn’t want to put a lot of time into keeping your windows looking good? If so, then vinyl windows are best for you. While you won’t get a ton of color options (more on this in the next section), vinyl windows aren’t painted. You thus don’t have to worry about touchups. You just have to keep these windows clean.

Greater Energy Efficiency

Window Spacer System

In another article on this blog, we discussed a window’s U-Factor as determined by the National Fenestration Rating Council or NRFC.

To recap: the U-Factor rating tells you the insulation quality of your windows based on the transfer of heat. On the lower end, the rating will be 0.25, and on the higher end, 1.25.

The good news is that most vinyl windows have a great U-Factor rating, which means they will insulate rooms in your home especially well.

That can make a big difference for you, especially on your monthly energy bill. When your home retains warmth well, you don’t have to rely on your heater so much.

That leads to a consistently lower energy bill, putting more money in your pocket.

Fast Installation

Another way you can save money with vinyl windows is on installation costs.

These windows have been a standard choice since the last century. By now, most window companies can install them quickly and easily. Now you won’t have to shell out as much money for installation costs, which is a nice perk!

Great Curb Appeal

Finally, the last benefit of vinyl windows is an aesthetic one.

These windows have a lasting appeal that has attracted homeowners for decades. When you decide to remodel your home with vinyl replacement windows, you’ll improve the curb appeal of your property.

That drives up the value of your home. Should you ever decide to move, you can break even or profit off of your window investment.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

While there are far more pros than cons, to be fair, here are a few complaints that some users have had about vinyl windows.

Few Color Choices

If you have a home with a unique color scheme and you want windows to match, vinyl may not be the material for you. The color options aren’t overwhelmingly exciting.

You’ve got your browns, your blacks, your grays, your beiges, maybe your tans. Any wood color can also be replicated. Hues like greens or reds might not be available.

If you still want PVC windows but more color options, try cellular PVC windows instead. These can be painted any hue your heart desires.

That gives you greater versatility in matching your windows to your home. While you might have to touch up the paint every now and again, cellular PVC windows are almost as maintenance-free as vinyl ones are.

Potential to Warp

If you live in a high-heat environment like Arizona, then it might be worth looking into buying different windows than vinyl ones. Composite windows might be a smarter choice here.

Why? If the weather gets extremely hot, then vinyl windows could warp. This doesn’t usually happen, but it is a possibility.

Why risk it? It would be a shame to spend all that time and money on new vinyl windows only to have to turn around and replace them prematurely.

This only applies if you live in a state with very warm summers or hot weather year-round. Otherwise, vinyl windows are still a very viable choice for your home.

Wood Insulates Better

In the last section, we mentioned how vinyl windows have a good U-Factor or insulating value.

This is still true, but compared to real wood, vinyl windows don’t insulate your home as efficiently.

This isn’t necessarily a disadvantage.

While wood is a good insulator, it’s heavier and more expensive.

It’s also prone to warping, rotting, and chipping in various conditions. So sure, you might be losing some insulation with vinyl windows, but they’re a favorite over wood for many reasons.

Questionable Quality

The last point is one you want to keep in mind.

Vinyl windows can all sort of look the same, but they’re very much not.

The strength and quality of the windows are variable, but if you can’t tell a cheap, flimsy window apart from one of better quality, how would you ever know?

Considering that vinyl windows are cheaper than many other window types, the price can mislead you, too.

The smartest way to ensure you get high-quality vinyl windows is to only buy from reputable window companies.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions before you finalize your purchase. You want to make sure the window replacement project is one you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Conclusion

Vinyl windows came onto the scene in the latter half of the 20th century and have been a great window choice ever since. They’re made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC.

Cellular PVC, while not the same material, is quite close.

There are many benefits to vinyl windows. They’re inexpensive, insulate well, and don’t require a ton of maintenance work.

While your color choices are not as great as some other window materials, we still think vinyl windows are an awesome option for your Park Ridge replacement window project.