Vinyl replacement windows versus composite replacement windows
Vinyl window frames are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with ultraviolet light (UV) stabilizers to keep sunlight from breaking down material as much as possible. There are differences in the quality of one manufacturer’s vinyl compared to another, This is because a vinyl window frame is made from a compound–a recipe of sorts–that dictates its performance over time. Each additive to a company’s vinyl recipe helps determine the long-term characteristics of the final product, like its weatherability and impact resistance.
Topping the list of vinyl’s advantages are its low cost and minimal maintenance requirements. Vinyl windows generally do not need painting, although some consumers complain about warping, cracking, fading, yellowing that occurs over time. Another downside is their aesthetics, which many people consider inferior.
A third major drawback is vinyl’s very high coefficient of thermal expansion. Over time, expansion and contraction from temperature changes can loosen seals and cause cracks at corners and on flanges, significantly reducing energy efficiency.
Composite windows can mean a variety of different things to different manufacturers, but generally come in two basic types:
- Wood composites, which combine chemically-bonded blends of wood with plastic resins for a frame that looks wood-like, but doesn’t require as much maintenance as wood.
- Resin/polymer composites, which combine resin, chemical additives, and modifiers for superior strength, durability, and energy efficiency. As an example, some composite frames are as much as 60 percent more energy-efficient than wood and 200 percent more energy-efficient than vinyl.
Composite window frames vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but are typically a great deal stronger than vinyl frames and more resistant to moisture and expansion/contraction in varying weather conditions. In addition, composite frames are virtually maintenance-free. A wide range of colors and finishes are available, including interior wood-grain laminates to simulate true wood windows. We’re starting to see more and more composite frames used in the highest performance windows. This makes sense because if you’re making an investment in top of the line glass and gas filler, you want to “house” it is the best possible frame, which in many cases is made from a composite material.
We know that replacement windows can be a big investment which is why it takes time to find the right replacement window company. If you’re in the Appleton, Green Bay, Clintonville, Madison, or Brookfield areas, call 888-874-9339 for a free quote.