Buying a replacement window is more than buying a pane of glass. You’re also buying the portion that keeps the glass together and the trimming around it, the frame, the part that actually defines your window. You want something that looks nice, that complements your home, but also something within your budget. Double hung, casement, transom, they’re all amazing, but where do you start? It’s best to start with the basics. What kind of material should your windows be made out of? (And I don’t want to hear you say glass!)
There are three usual materials that windows are made of; vinyl, wood, and fiberglass. By starting your research on which material is right for you, you can then narrow your choices to which window choices you can select from. Over the next few weeks, we will take a deep dive into the different materials that windows are crafted from. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each, including costs, maintenance, and aesthetics so that you can make a confident decision when you are ready to replace your windows.
First things first, let’s discuss the basics, then wade deeper as your familiarity to each material becomes better. After we’ve determined which material is right for your replacement windows, we’ll get to the fun stuff, such as the type of window that will transform your house into your dream home.
A vinyl window is simply a window which frame and operable parts are made of vinyl. If it were only that simple, though! How many people reading this know what vinyl is? Let’s start there. It’s actually a commonly used name for PVC, which stands for Polyvinyl Chloride (yes, it sounds like something Walter White would exasperate over as he tries to explain it to Jesse). PVC is most commonly used as a pipe, most every hardware store carries PVC pipe. Why does this matter? PVC becomes plastic and an interesting fact about plastic is that it tends to last and that it tends to be affordable. While plastic does imply cheap, that’s actually a misnomer, as far as vinyl windows are concerned you should think of plastic as lasting. In fact, vinyl windows are the most affordable window replacement option and they’re virtually maintenance free. The technology for PVC has evolved from the extruded form, which is what most people consider vinyl windows. It also comes in a milled form which looks more like wood windows and is solid and paintable. There are options when it comes to vinyl, despite what you might have heard.
I won’t get into the process of producing wood since you should have learned that in the first grade. The important thing to know about wood is that the material can totally transform a home. While vinyl is going to be more affordable, it’s also going to be more generic. Wood, on the other hand, is highly customizable. You can change the color scheme; make it bolder, make it softer, paint it, stain it. Like anything, though, wood is not perfect. Wood windows require more maintenance than vinyl windows and aren’t going to last until the sun burns out. Like vinyl, wood has evolved past pieces of lumber, especially when it comes to replacement windows. Clad wood windows are real wood windows with aluminum, fiberglass or vinyl wrapped around the exteriors to make the windows maintenance free on the outside but still offer the warmth, beauty and flexible painting option on the interior. Wood windows can turn an average house into an amazing home though and should be considered seriously if the price is within your budget.
Fiberglass is a combination of plastic and glass, essentially it’s plastic reinforced with glass fiber. A major plus, which we’ll get into in more detail in a further post, is that because of the glass fiber the frame does not expand and retract around the glass pane. It’s also a strong yet light material that is considered “greener” than vinyl. The costs of fiberglass windows are going to be comparable to wood windows, but the lifetime costs will likely be cheaper especially when factoring in warranties and the fact that there is less maintenance over the lifetime of the window. While customizable, and even customizable to look like wood, it’s still not as versatile as wood.
Stay tuned for our next article on vinyl windows. As you learned here there are a few pros and cons of vinyl windows, a more thorough understanding is vital in making the right replacement window choice, considering that when you replace a window you’re replacing it for life.
Buying replacement windows is a decision that can’t be taken lightly. Once you replace your windows they are your windows for life, or at least should be. We, here at Sivan windows and doors, understand this and are here to make sure that you make the right choice. Stop by and visit our showroom to see the many transformations your home could take, or reach out to us, we’d be happy to come by and assess your home in person. 818.330.6664