Problems With Vinyl Windows And Customer Issues

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Problems With Vinyl Windows

Let’s take an honest look at the problems with vinyl windows. At the outset, let’s also make a distinction between cheap vinyl windows and premium vinyl windows. That is going to be an important point in terms of the specific problems you might encounter with vinyl over other window frame materials.

Dane - Site Editor

Page Last Updated: February 22, 2024

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Problems With Vinyl Windows :: Ugly

There is some truth to this, although I think it’s more fair to say that they’re just very ordinary looking in general. I would also say this: from the outside, vinyl windows are not very impressive from an aesthetic point of view. However, fiberglass isn’t all that much better. In fact, it’s actually difficult to tell the difference sometimes between fiberglass and vinyl windows.

Real wood windows are the nicest looking material around on the exterior of a home. However, cut to the second decade of the life of wood-clad and often they are looking shabbier than what a vinyl would look like. Often times, wood is painted a specific color to protect the window. And this is another place where vinyl falls short - it cannot be painted as it will often chip or flake off and look pretty crappy after sometime. You can, however, get custom exterior colors, although these will certainly add to the cost.

In terms of the interior of a window, vinyl is also pretty unattractive. Again, I would say the same holds true for fiberglass and aluminum. Composite and wood windows tend to look the best. But here’s the thing about vinyl windows from an aesthetic point of view - many premium vinyl window manufacturers offer optional upgrades to a wood grain laminate on the inside of the frame.

A couple of decades ago, these laminates looked pretty bad. Today, many of these woodgrain laminates do a very good job of looking like a real wood that has been treated with the simple varnish. The result is a great looking interior of a window, coupled with all the benefits of vinyl - cost, longevity, no maintenance

Bottom Line: Vinyl is not the best looking material, but that interior wood laminate upgrade gets it somewhat close to real wood windows.

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Problems With Vinyl Windows :: Flimsy

When vinyl windows first came out 30 years ago, I think this was probably true. In the three decades that the material has been used for windows and sliding doors, there have been significant advances in technology that have a rendered this statement obsolete in my opinion. A well-made vinyl window series is strong enough for nearly all residential purposes.

What is true is that cheaply made vinyl windows, and there are a lot out there, can be pretty flimsy when compared to fiberglass and composite windows. But again, premium manufacturers have taken steps in both the composition of the vinyl molds and in the number of chambers used (as well as interior fills) to make the material very strong and durable.

Bottom Line: Well made vinyl windows are plenty strong for 99% of all residential homes and applications.

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Problems With Vinyl Windows :: Not Energy Efficient

Energy efficiency is easily measured using data and information. While cheaply made vinyl series achieve mediocre energy efficiency numbers, well-made vinyl windows produce some of the best and most energy efficient numbers of any window material on the market. So, for example, the Okna 800 DX achieves a .01 air infiltration rating, which is unbeatable - it beats every single wood window and all composite windows on the market. For the most part, the vinyl that is used in quality manufactures products offer excellent energy efficiency.

Bottom Line: Good vinyl series offer some of the best energy efficient numbers on the market, beating out all other window frame materials, often by a lot.

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Problems With Vinyl Windows :: They Fade

Again, this might’ve been true several decades ago. And it could still be true to a certain extent with some of the entry level vinyl series. However, mid range and quality vinyl windows do not fade overtime. Well, let’s qualify that and say that they say very little overtime, or that they fade as little as any other frame material used in the market today.

Bottom Line: Overall, vinyl windows have much fewer problems than other frame materials in my opinion.

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