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Vinyl Windows 101
Vinyl Replacement Windows For Your Home
Brand new windows not only refresh the way your house looks, but also make your home cozier and more energy efficient. In the past, most windows were made of wood or aluminum-clad wood, but these days, vinyl windows are the most popular choice.
Vinyl windows look sharp, work smoothly and come in an amazing range of colors. Even better, vinyl windows cost considerably less than clad windows or wooden windows, making them the go-to choice for savvy consumers.
In this guide, we’ll explore vinyl windows in detail, and we’ll compare vinyl frames against other popular window types to explain why vinyl is such a great investment.
What Are Vinyl Windows?
Also known as PVC or polyvinyl chloride, vinyl is a very popular window construction material — and for good reason. First synthesized by scientists in the 19th century, vinyl is a strong, stable polymer of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). In 1926, scientists discovered how to make vinyl flexible; the first vinyl windows were made in Germany in 1956.
Vinyl windows have been popular in the U.S. since the 1970s. They’re easy to manufacture; they’re easy to install, and they last up to 50 years. Until fairly recently, most vinyl windows were white. Nowadays, vinyl windows come in a broad array of colors.
Advantages & Benefits of Replacement Vinyl Windows
How long will vinyl windows last? High-quality vinyl windows are surprisingly durable, lasting between 20 and 50 years under normal circumstances. Vinyl expands and contracts somewhat in the heat, but it’s very stable overall and can withstand many freeze-thaw cycles.
Moisture and Insect Resistant
Vinyl is a sturdy type of plastic, so it’s completely impervious to moisture. Well-made vinyl windows are watertight in the heaviest rain. Because they’re made of polymer, vinyl windows aren’t susceptible to woodworm or termite infestation.
Are vinyl windows low maintenance? In a word, yes. Vinyl windows really are set-and-forget. Once installed, they require very little maintenance beyond glass, screen and track cleaning and occasional hardware lubrication with a silicone-based lubricant.
Vinyl vs. Aluminum Windows
Aluminum windows might look like vinyl windows from a distance, but they’re not in the same league. For a start, vinyl window frames are usually thicker and more robust than aluminum window frames. Here are two other ways in which aluminum windows differ from vinyl windows:
Frame finish: Vinyl windows come in a range of different finish options, including smooth, textured and wood grain. The wood-grain finish available in vinyl is much more realistic than the painted-on wood effect available on an aluminum window frame.
Durability: Vinyl windows are resistant to fading, cracking and corrosion. In contrast, aluminum windows tend to fade over time, and they’re also more prone to denting. It’s very obvious if the finish on an aluminum frame gets chipped because the metal underneath becomes visible.
Vinyl vs. Wood Windows
Well-made wooden windows can last a long time, but vinyl windows offer a lot more convenience. Vinyl window frames are easier to clean than wooden window frames, and vinyl frames don’t warp in humid climates. Here are two additional benefits of vinyl vs. wood windows:
Maintenance: Vinyl windows need a quick wipe down and occasional lubrication. Wooden windows are prone to dry rot, regular rot and fungus, and they require repainting every few years.
Pests: Because they’re made of polymer, vinyl windows aren’t attractive to pests. If they’re not regularly treated, wooden windows become vulnerable to insect attack from termites and woodworm.
Are Vinyl Windows Energy Efficient?
Vinyl windows are extremely energy efficient. They’re moisture resistant because they’re made of extruded polyvinyl chloride, and the frames on some vinyl windows are filled with insulation for a thermally superior finish. Vinyl warps less often than wood and won’t dent like aluminum, so drafts don’t stand a chance.
Many homeowners find that when they swap traditional single-pane wooden windows for thermally efficient vinyl windows, their utility bills decrease. Choosing an ENERGY STAR-rated window design can amplify this effect.
Vinyl Windows Colors
The days of monotonous vinyl window colors are gone. These days, homeowners can choose from a wide range of colors and finishes, including wood grain. Thompson Creek vinyl replacement windows come in six beautiful standard colors:
At Thompson Creek, we can also color match the exterior of our windows to any Sherwin Williams swatch for a customized look. Simply select double or triple-pane glass, choose from a colonial or modern trim and pick a window style to get started with a custom quote.
Ideal for Tight Spaces & Smaller Homes
Vinyl Window Styles
Vinyl windows come in an assortment of different styles. Picture windows, casement windows, slider windows and beautiful bay windows in double- and triple-pane options — modern PVC frame options are both elegant and versatile. Some homeowners go for a grid pattern, while others prefer one single glass expanse. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular vinyl window styles:
Double Hung Windows
Double hung windows are a traditional style with two movable sash elements, each of which can be drawn up or down to increase or decrease ventilation. They’re easy to clean, and they stay flush with your wall, making them an ideal choice if you have limited space outside.
Another classic style, casement windows are attached to their frames via hinges. They’re hung from the side, so they open out a little like doors. Most casement frames hold one or two casement windows; triple casement windows with a fixed central pane are also available.
Picture windows use one glazed section to make a big statement. They’re frequently large, and they let in a plethora of light, making them ideal for main living spaces. Picture windows don’t open, so they don’t offer ventilation like other vinyl window options.
As the name implies, slider windows contain at least two sashes, which move across each other to increase or decrease ventilation. Also called gliding or sliding windows, slider windows promote air circulation when they’re open and let in a lot of light when they’re closed.
Bay windows bump out, creating a projection you can turn into a panoramic window seat. Bay windows turn a 2-D space into a 3-D space to maximize light. Bow windows are a more angular variation on the bay window design.
Bow windows are broader than bay windows. They incorporate four or five identical fixed or venting sections, each installed at an approximately 10-degree angle to create a sweeping curve. Like bay windows, bow windows bring in a lot of light while extending your room outward.
Awning and Hopper Windows
Awning windows have a hinge at the top and open at the bottom, so they work well in kitchens and bathrooms. Hopper windows have a hinge at the bottom and open at the top, making them ideal for basements. Both window options also work well in multi-pane frames.
Garden windows create space on the side of your home without the need for additional framing or brickwork. A beautiful option for your kitchen, each garden window has four glazed sections, including an angled roof section and two venting side sections.
Vinyl Window Trim
In a nutshell, exterior trim neatly covers the small space between the edge of your window and your wall. Trim provides a finishing touch on any vinyl window design — it’s the last step in your window overhaul project. Let’s look at two popular trim styles: modern and colonial.
Thompson Creek modern exterior vinyl window trim is simple and elegant. Straight lines and 90-degree angles create subtle shadows, making this option an excellent choice for contemporary homes. Modern trim looks particularly good when it’s used to finish off a large picture window or a smooth bow window.
Thompson Creek colonial vinyl window trim is a little more ornate than its modern trim option. Embellished with stepped groove detailing and traditional curves, colonial window trim looks great on a classic or period home. Colonial trim particularly complements bay windows, double hung windows and Thompson Creek custom windows.
Vinyl Windows Installation
Some vinyl windows are better than others — and some companies make you jump through hoops to enjoy new windows. That isn’t the case at Thompson Creek, where you get an all-in-one solution to fulfill your window replacement needs. Thompson Creek manufactures its own windows, specifically designed for the Mid-Atlantic climate in Maryland.
Thompson Creek can help you with window design, keep you informed during the manufacturing process and then professionally install your windows.
Choose from eight different standard window styles, or create your own custom design. Select energy-efficient two-pane or three-pane glazing, or go for the Thompson Creek Sound Shield option to minimize intrusive noise, filter out UV rays and further improve energy efficiency.
All our windows are ENERGY STAR rated, and we recycle excess material from the manufacturing process — including PVC — to help safeguard the planet.
We have decades of installation experience, which we use to give you a truly professional finish every time. Our skilled craftsmen work quickly and efficiently to install your new windows — and they’re not satisfied until you are. At Thompson Creek, there’s no middle man, and all of our windows are manufactured locally, so you also save money on shipping costs.
Vinyl Window Maintenance
Wondering how to clean vinyl windows? You’ll be happy to know that PVC windows are extremely low maintenance. Here’s how to keep your windows looking new and working smoothly, year after year:
- Clean the glass in your vinyl windows frequently with glass cleaner and a cloth to keep it sparkling.
- Wipe over the interior vinyl frame using soapy water to prevent discoloration.
- A few times a year, clean the outside of your vinyl window frames with soapy water.
- Remove dirt and dust from your window tracks using a soft cloth to ensure smooth operation.
- Clean window screens with a vacuum or a brush whenever they look dirty.
- Lubricate your window hardware periodically with a silicone-based lubricant.
- Use steel wool or abrasive pastes to clean your vinyl windows.
- Use acid-based cleaners or solvents to clean your window frame.
- Use petroleum-based lubricants to lubricate your window mechanism.
Which Window Material Is Right For You?
Wooden windows look great, but they’re high maintenance, and if they’re not well maintained, they can fail sooner than expected. Aluminum windows are a classic option, but they dent easily and aren’t very energy efficient.
The solution? Thompson Creek vinyl windows, which are ENERGY STAR certified and come in a wide range of different styles. Choose from six classic paint options, or pick a custom Sherwin Williams swatch for a bespoke look. At Thompson Creek, we guide you through the design process, and then we manufacture and professionally install your windows to give your home a world-class upgrade.
For more information about Thompson Creek windows, or to book a video or in-person consultation, apply for a free estimate online today.
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