If you’re looking to replace your windows, chances are high you’ve considered vinyl windows in Chicago. With good reason, too.
In 2019, vinyl windows were the best-selling window type in the U.S. More vinyl windows were sold to the residential market than every other window framing material combined. At a whopping 67% of the market, vinyl windows were king last year. The pattern that has emerged in 2020 tells us that vinyl windows aren’t falling out of favor any time soon.
So what is it that sets vinyl windows apart from the competition? We’re here to explain.
We’ll also unpack what vinyl windows are, where they came from, and how they compare to the other major window construction materials on the market. Finally, we’re going to point out some things all homeowners need to consider before they jump on the vinyl window wagon.
Let’s get started!
What are Vinyl Windows?
Vinyl windows are manufactured from extruded polyvinyl chloride—a material most of us might recognize as PVC. PVC is a synthetic material that offers many uses in cladding and as a window material.
Another reason for the rising popularity of vinyl windows, which have been around in various forms for decades, is that they are eco-friendly and sustainable.
We’ll explore more of the benefits of vinyl windows later in this article.
The History of Vinyl Windows
Post World War II Germany saw the birth of the original vinyl window. Because traditional window materials—wood, aluminum, and steel—were in short supply, rebuilding was done using synthetic materials. Vinyl was a cheaply manufactured man-made material that could be produced quickly and easily. Time was of the essence, as large parts of Germany were destroyed at this point.
The practicality of vinyl windows had spread to the U.S. by the 1950s. Vinyl manufacturing giant, BF Goodrich, started producing vinyl windows. Although they had been manufactured for some time in Europe, BF Goodrich aimed to manufacture their windows in the style of wood and aluminum windows of the time. The original windows were small and bulky, which didn’t appeal to the 50s’ homeowners. With this new combination of durability and affordability, plus the fact that vinyl windows looked as modern as their traditional counterparts, they should have been a residential market success.
Unfortunately, the world wasn’t ready for vinyl windows. Homeowners of the 50’s, 60’s, and ’70s viewed PVC as being a cheap, low-end material that wouldn’t last.
A vinyl window renaissance came about in the early 1990s. Sales more than doubled year on year, soon overtaking wood—and then aluminum—for new home construction.
New advances in the vinyl window production process have extended their lifespan, reduced maintenance, and reduced the cost even further.
The Benefits of Vinyl Windows in Chicago
The benefits of vinyl windows Chicago are extensive. So extensive, actually, that some of the world’s most renowned window manufacturers—like CertainTeed and Owens Corning—offer long-lasting, comprehensive warranties on their vinyl window products.
Here are the top 5 reasons homeowners and construction firms are choosing vinyl for window installations:
Energy Efficiency of Vinyl Windows
Let’s face it: the electric bill can get out of hand fast. To help keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer, dual pane—or double glazed—vinyl windows are an energy-efficient solution.
Vinyl windows help you save on your energy bill in the long-term. They have high thermal performance rating and have evolved to be efficient and air-tight. If your windows don’t seal properly or are single pane, your indoor heating and cooling system has to work double-time. Most of your warm or cool air leaks out through the improperly sealed windows, which stops your heating system from reaching its pre-set temperature and shutting off.
Unlike wood, your vinyl window framing won’t warp. Unlike metal, it won’t dent. Warping and denting mean additional air leaks letting all that valuable warm air out of your home in the depths of winter.
Long-Lasting Window Durability in Chicago
Vinyl windows manufactured by reputable companies are non-corrosive, non-warping, strong, well-insulated, and hold up well to extreme weather conditions. Choosing a good quality vinyl window product is easy, too. Look for a manufacturer who offers a comprehensive warranty on their product. Your vinyl windows should withstand decades of use, and the warranty should reflect this.
An added bonus: through the addition of cellular foam to the vinyl process, vinyl windows can now be resistant to rot. No wonder vinyl windows are sometimes referred to as the terminator of the window solutions industry—they are resistant to rotting, warping, corrosion, sunlight, hail, water, rusting, and cracking.
Oh—they’re also impervious to ants and termites.
Once installed, one of the most beautiful things about vinyl windows is how little maintenance you need to invest in them.
Because they are non-corrosive and stand up well to the elements, simply wiping them down with hot, soapy water when they get soiled is the only time you’ll need to invest in them. The color of your vinyl window finish is built into the vinyl formulation, so you don’t need to carry out touch-up work, like you would with wood windows.
Another impressive, low-maintenance feature of vinyl windows is the sashes. These can easily be removed, cleaned, and replaced, in very little time.
Stellar Chicago Window Warranties
If you choose the right vinyl window product, you could be the recipient of one of the most reassuring warranties in construction: a full lifetime warranty. Many of the most reputable manufacturers offer this level of peace of mind against replacement, defect in materials, defect in workmanship, and cost of parts and labor. These companies are so confident that their vinyl window solutions are the best, they are willing to back it up with their bottom line.
This is a major for most homeowners. Your windows in Chicago can make or break the look of your home’s exterior. You could invest tens of thousands of dollars into home improvement, but your windows can make your home look outdated, or run down.
Vinyl windows are a popular choice in home renovations because they look sleek, modern, and wear very little over time. There is a near unlimited selection of framing colors to choose from, too. Because the pigment is set into the vinyl itself, there’s no fading or color mutation to worry about.
Vinyl windows have even become a popular choice in more traditional, period-style homes. Vinyl can be painted or finished to look like wood, through the addition of sawdust.
Vinyl Windows vs. Aluminium Windows Comparison
When it comes to style, vinyl and aluminum windows have a lot in common. For example:
• Both are available as single- or double-hung
• Both are available as single- or multi-pane
• Both are available in a nearly exhaustive array of colors and finishes
There are a few aesthetic differences, though.
With vinyl windows, you can get an authentic wood-look finish to your windows if using a supplier that offers a faux wood interior. This can only be achieved in aluminum windows by applying a wood-look coating. Not quite so authentic looking.
Aluminum frames are generally finer, thinner, and powder coated, which can be appealing to more spartan, minimalistic finishes.
Who wins? This is a tie, and comes down to personal preference.
Aluminum and vinyl windows are both highly resistant to cracking and scratches in Chicago.
Vinyl wins when it comes to dents, chips, and warping, though. It withstands far more of a beating than aluminum. Because vinyl frames are made up of the same material all the way through, dents and chips are nearly impossible to see, if they do occur. Aluminum frames, on the other hand, are coated, which means any damage to the coating will expose the aluminum base.
When it comes to durability, aluminum comes up short when faced with corrosion and color mutation. Any material with a coating or finish is more likely to fade or wear, and more at risk of changing color or yellowing as time goes on. The fasteners used in aluminum window installations are also vulnerable to corrosion and pitting. If you live near the coast, your windows are even more at risk.
Who wins? Vinyl windows—superior durability, and resistance to almost any environmental challenge.
Aluminum windows are the opposite of energy-efficient, so this is a no-brainer. Vinyl windows help keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer, and offer superior airtightness. Aluminum, on the other hand, acts as a heat conductor. This means they heat up in summer, and cool down in winter, making your heat pump and HVAC system work twice as hard.
Who wins? Vinyl windows—no competition.
Wood windows are elegant, rustic, and traditionally timeless. Many homeowners will want to stick with wood windows for these reasons, but there are some risks involved with wood windows, too.
With their timeless good looks, wood windows can cost almost double that of high-quality vinyl windows Chicago.
Who wins? Wood windows are a classic that doesn’t look to be going out of style any time soon.
Window Durability & Maintenance
Wood windows can require a lot of maintenance in order to last. Because they are vulnerable to water damage, mildew, and rotting, it is important to keep the areas dry. Condensation on your wood windows can quickly have a negative impact—on the value of your home, and your family’s health.
Vinyl windows are water-resistant and easy to clean, as well as being able to withstand warping, corrosion, and cracking.
Since we’re on the topic of durability, vinyl windows will last upwards of 20 years. High-quality wood windows, on the other hand, can last up to 50 years if properly maintained.
Who wins? It’s a tie—wood windows will last longer, if you’re willing to invest the time in maintaining them.
Wood windows can be energy efficient, but vinyl windows are the gold standard in energy efficiency. Because insulation extends into the frame of the window itself, a quality vinyl window can save you an incredible amount of money on cooling and heating your home, especially in Chicago.
Who wins? Vinyl windows—they incorporate the best insulation technology available in the industry today.
Fiberglass Windows vs Vinyl Windows
Both fiberglass and vinyl windows can be textured to resemble wood windows. Similarly, they both offer a long list of colors and finishes, both incorporated into the window framing material.
Fiberglass can offer more glass ‘real estate’ than vinyl, in some installations. Fiberglass is able to carry more weight, meaning vinyl frames have to be slightly thicker to match them. Inch for inch, fiberglass windows are thinner, meaning more glass area in the window—meaning slightly more natural light flowing into your home.
Who wins? Fiberglass, but by an almost unnoticeable margin.
Both vinyl and fiberglass are synthetic materials that are resistant to rot, ants, and termites in Chicago. They are also extremely resilient to warping.
Fiberglass may have a slight advantage when it comes to structural durability. Because fiberglass is made from the same material as your window panes, they expand and contract at the same rate. This puts less strain on the window seals, which can prevent seal failure.
Vinyl windows are airtight, however. This, in conjunction with a lifetime warranty, can offer peace of mind and protection against seal failure, in the unlikely event it were to occur.
Because both material types are low maintenance—both require a quick wipe clean if they are soiled—the durability is fairly even.
Who wins? It’s a tie—as far as durability and resilience go, they’re fairly even.
Energy Efficiency Comparison: Fiberglass vs Vinyl Windows
Both vinyl windows and fiberglass windows have a strong insulating value. In industry testing, they both offer a slow transmission of thermal energy, making them excellent for stopping the leak of warm air (in winter) or cool air (in summer) out of your home.
Fiberglass window framing, however, has a 15% higher rating than vinyl window framing.
Who wins? Fiberglass windows win by 15%.
From the post-WWII era, where they were used because nothing else was available—vinyl windows have come a long way. As the window solution of choice for over 65% of U.S. homes, vinyl windows are officially the most popular choice in today’s market.
For energy efficiency, durability, care, and good looks, vinyl windows are a great choice for your home. To sweeten the deal, they’re also affordable and easy to install for the home DIY enthusiast.
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