Vinyl Windows, Something to Consider
Some people wonder, “Why are vinyl windows bad?” They’re not all bad. They have pros and cons. The worst problems are with low-quality vinyl windows, especially in temperature extremes.
Vinyl windows have some problems. They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing, they’re not durable, and they’re not environmentally sound. But we’ll go over the pros, too, so you can see why they’re so prevalent.
Fiberglass windows are another option we’re going to look at. They have many good points of vinyl while maintaining some of their excellent features like durability and strength. We’ll compare the two.
The Cons of Vinyl Windows
Vinyl is made of plastic, which is a problem if you’re restoring an older home and you want to maintain the traditional look of wood. Vinyl is made up of PVC, a type of plastic, so, understandably, it would look that way.
The other bad thing about vinyl windows is that any color besides white will start to fade after about 10 years or so.
You could paint it, but that can be very pricy. However, this may not be an issue if you’re not going to be in your house long.
Vinyl windows are made of PVC. This material out-gases, which means it breaks down into chemicals that some people can be sensitive to.
If you have a fire, the PVC can release harmful fumes when it burns. Take this into consideration.
It gets hot in the summer. Plastic doesn’t react well to heat. High temperatures in hot climates can cause vinyl windows to warp or melt. Vinyl doesn’t have a memory, so it won’t go back to its original shape. The damage is permanent.
The sun does more than just heat damage. If an area’s UV index is high, or you live on a mountain or don’t have tree coverage, the sun’s rays cause the window to yellow over time.
In cold climates, vinyl windows become brittle, just like other plastics become brittle in the cold. If a high wind blows debris into your window, your window may crack.
Heat and cold cause PVC to swell and shrink. When these vinyl windows expand and contract with the temperature fluctuations, it causes problems with their structural integrity.
Not only can they be difficult to open and close with structural damage, but it can affect the seal and let moisture in between the panes. This causes fogging or can lead to mold, which creates breathing problems.
The Pros of Vinyl Windows
Vinyl windows are very affordable. Replacing windows on the house can be very costly, and why not do it for less with vinyl?
Not only are the windows themselves more affordable, but there’s also no need for all that trim work. The makers build it into the window.
Installation is easy. Capable DIYers can do it themselves, knocking out the cost of a contractor.
Vinyl windows save you money on your utility bills because they’re insulated. Vinyl windows are double-paned and energy-efficient.
You can take care of vinyl windows are easily. Just a simple inspection and cleaning once a year, and you’re done!
You never need to paint them. They stay the same color. There’s no need to lug out drop cloths, paint, paintbrushes, or get to work scraping or sanding.
Get the good vinyl windows.
Top-shelf vinyl windows are better for your needs, but lower quality vinyl windows will probably be problematic. You’re already saving money by going vinyl; at least spring for something that will last.
If you get cheap vinyl windows, here are some things to look out for:
- Expanding and contracting within the opening.
- Warping under too much heat.
- Becoming brittle and cracking in the cold.
- Yellowing and fading in direct sunlight.
- Losing gas between the panes from exposure to elements.
What Windows are Better than Vinyl?
Fiberglass is the next step up from vinyl windows. With its strength and durability, it’s an excellent option. Check out the comparison below to see which one suits your needs.
Fiberglass costs less than wood, but vinyl is less costly than fiberglass.
Fiberglass windows will help more than vinyl will with your energy bill. Since the early twentieth century, people have used fiberglass for insulation, and it’s still one of the most popular materials for it today.
Most people insulate their homes with fiberglass. With energy efficiency, fiberglass is up to 15% more efficient than vinyl windows. It’s also more durable, so it won’t warp and lose its shape.
Vinyl and fiberglass last longer than wood; they don’t rot or suffer insect damage. But fiberglass stands up longer than vinyl. A vinyl window may last 30 years, but a fiberglass one will be around after 50 years. The extremes of weather are no match for fiberglass windows.
Fiberglass windows are stronger than vinyl windows, but they tend to be thinner, so they have more glass area. If you want more light in your space, you might want to think about this.
Vinyl is smooth and looks like plastic, but makers can texture fiberglass to look like wood. You can also paint fiberglass any color you like, whereas you have a limited range of colors with vinyl.
Fiberglass is just what it says it is: glass fibers. They make it from recycled glass, so there’s less need for new glass and less glass filling up the landfill. If you happen to have a fire, it won’t put off potentially harmful fumes like vinyl.
It also doesn’t off-gas or put off chemicals as it breaks down as vinyl does. If you’re sensitive to this, it may be a factor in which windows you buy.
Fiberglass windows have a lot going for them. They’re a lot stronger and more durable. Vinyl windows aren’t as energy-efficient, and they are cheaper, but you’ll replace them sooner because they can’t handle the weather. Fiberglass windows are the smart choice.
There’s a great article on fiberglass vs. vinyl windows on Bob Vila’s website.