Should I Buy Vinyl Windows?

Should I Buy Vinyl Windows?

Say Yes to Vinyl Windows if:

 

1. You currently have builder grade windows

With a 26.6% uptick in sales of single-family houses in November 2017 from the prior year, more and more builders are pouring into the new construction market. As the number of spec-home builders grows, the number of homes with builder-grade finishes are climbing. Like any business, builders are in the business to make profits so they can pay their people well and have a profit to show at the end of the year. We will never begrudge a company for making a profit because of all the good profits mean for shareholders.

One way builders bake in profits is by negotiating terms with builder grade window firms for pricing on an entire neighborhood of homes. New construction window manufacturers do not have to offer a non-prorated lifetime warranty that includes parts and labor because builders only have to warranty their homes for 1-year. Simply put, builders pay less for windows because the manufacturer knows they only have to service them for one year and they buy in bulk. 

Window manufacturers often focus on either new construction or replacement but not both. New construction builder-grade window firms are built to scale operations because they build windows in a handful of specific sizes. These companies might have equipment set to build one window size and will produce 100 windows a day of the exact same size and configuration. On the other hand, replacement window manufacturers may have to alter their machines for every window because replacement windows are measured on the 1/4"-1/8" to accommodate for shifts in a home and the exterior cladding. If you live in a brick home that was built in the 1940's, chances are the window opening has shifted and the brick cladding may have encroached upon the size of the window used when it was originally built. The new construction size of the window may have been 35.5" x 71.5" but you need a replacement window measured at 34 11/16" by 71 1/4" to efficiently fill the opening. This means that replacement window manufacturers may have to alter their machines 40 times for one order, which slows down their production. 

To summarize, builder grade windows are made to fill a need for builders, not homeowners and are built with the expectation that there won't be any service requests within the 1st year of installation. Also, new construction windows are fairly standard because the framed openings are square and they are installed prior to the wall cladding. Replacement windows are chosen by the homeowner and should be expected to last a minimum of 20 years, but hopefully for the life of the home. Replacement windows are also measured differently because of the shifting of a home over time and because they are installed after the wall cladding. 

 

2. You're looking for the best replacement window value

Windows of more expensive material, such as wood, fiberglass or steel can cost 1.5 to 4 times the price without any added efficiency. You might wonder why a homeowner would pay 4x the price for the same efficiency? The short answer is customization. Vinyl windows have size and shape constraints because of the strength of vinyl, so certain shapes and window configurations are unable to be built using vinyl. By some estimates, other frame materials are up to 8x stronger than vinyl. This comes into play if you are building a 2-story window wall that might be 12' wide by 24' tall, or need to custom-mull a radius window assembly. To hold the extreme weight of the glass and frame material, steel, fiberglass or wood may be a more suitable building material. Each home is unique, so please talk with your window vendor about what material is best suited for your home. 

Marvin signature custom-mulled-radius window assembly.jpg

*NOT suitable for vinyl windows * Marvin Brand Site

 

3. You're looking for low maintenance windows

Vinyl windows are incredibly durable and require little to no maintenance. Unlike wood windows, you will never have to worry about a rotting window frame. Most vendors are so confident in their durability, they offer lifetime warranties on their windows. The Brennan Traditions, Brennan Signature, Brennan SolarBear and Milgard Tuscany all have lifetime warranties. 

 

Say No to Vinyl Windows if:

 

1. You currently have wood windows

If you and your neighbors currently have wood windows, I would not recommend being the first to replace your windows with another material. There is a heritage and quality to wood windows that you don't find in vinyl, and you could negatively impact the resale value of your home. 

Additionally, if you live in a DFW neighborhood with craftsman-style homes, your HOA may require you to keep wood windows in your home. Areas such as Kessler Park, Fairmount,  Swiss Avenue and Vaquero have a multitude of homes with wood windows. Whether your home was custom-built with wood or you want to maintain its historic value, avoiding vinyl replacement windows may make sense. 

To learn more about wood windows, read our Should I Buy Wood Windows article. 

 

2. You're looking for a thin, modern window frame

Although incredibly efficient and low-maintenance, vinyl windows aren't meant for every home style. Modern homes, for example, tend not to pair stylistically with vinyl windows. If what works for your home is a thin, hyper-modern look, vinyl may not be the best window material for you. Many modern contemporary homes in Dallas neighborhoods such as Preston Hollow, Oak Cliff, East Dallas, Oak Lawn, and Turtle Creek sports steel or aluminum frames that go along with the fine-lined style of their design. 

modern windows in east dallas stucco homeModern home in East Dallas neighborhood via mod214.

 

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