Are Vinyl Windows the Best Choice for Your Home?

Vinyl windows are one of the top choices for new and replacement windows. They’re energy-efficient, durable, and more affordable than other materials.

You can find vinyl replacement windows in various styles and colors from all the major brands. The biggest downside is that vinyl doesn’t last as long as wood and may not give you the look you want.

If you’re ready to purchase windows, here’s what you should know about vinyl.

What is a Vinyl Window?

Vinyl Window FramesView in gallery

Windows are labeled based on the material that makes up their frame. For example, a vinyl window has a plastic frame, better known as vinyl. Vinyl is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) mixed with pigments and additives to create a durable, weather-resistant window frame.

Vinyl windows come in all the standard styles, including double-hung, single-hung, sliding, and casement windows. 


Are Vinyl Windows the Best? 

The best window for you depends on your house and needs. If cost, energy efficiency, and low maintenance are important, vinyl might be your top pick.

Pros:

  • Durable – Vinyl is a hard plastic that can withstand harsh weather and extreme temperatures.
  • Low-maintenance – You’ll never have to worry about refinishing or repainting a vinyl window – they’re maintenance-free.
  • Energy efficient – Many manufacturers fill the frame of vinyl windows with insulation, making them highly energy efficient.
  • Affordable – Depending on the brand, vinyl windows are often the least expensive.
  • Abundant – Since so many manufacturers make vinyl windows, you can find them in many styles and colors.

Cons:

  • Aesthetics – While there’s nothing wrong with the looks of vinyl, they don’t coordinate well with older homes. They also have bulkier frames than fiberglass or aluminum.
  • Hard to paint – It’s risky to paint a vinyl window. Even when you wash, sand, prime, and paint, you chance the paint peeling off or cracking.
  • Quality varies – With so many brands offering vinyl windows, you’ll find that quality varies greatly.

Where to Find Vinyl Windows in Black?

Black offers a modern yet classic look that works with many home styles and dominates window trim trends.

If you’re in the market for black vinyl windows, you can find them from the following brands:

  • Pella 250 Series – These are vinyl windows with a black exterior and white interior.
  • JELD WEN V-4500 – You can get a black exterior with your choice of a white, almond, or desert sand interior.
  • Milgard Trinsic – Offers a black interior and exterior on a thin, modern vinyl frame.
  • Simonton – You can choose a black exterior with six color/wood grain choices for the interior.
  • Champion – Champion offers many exterior color choices, including black with wood grain interior options.

Thermal Break Aluminum Windows vs. Vinyl: Which is Better?

Thermal break aluminum windows go head-to-head with vinyl, and for a good reason: both materials are durable, low-maintenance, and long-lasting. Depending on the manufacturer and specific model, you can find vinyl and thermal break aluminum with similar energy efficiencies.

The big difference between them is price and appearance. Aluminum windows have a thinner, less bulky frame than vinyl. They are a good choice for modern architecture, but there aren’t as many finish options. Vinyl has lots of finish options and can resemble wood or be a solid color.

Even though these windows have similar advantages, you can expect to shell out 10-30% more for thermal break aluminum.

Should You Replace Wood Windows with Vinyl?

Vinyl isn’t the best choice if you live in a historic home or log cabin. It will stand out, drawing attention to itself. Otherwise, it’s fine to replace wood with vinyl.

Vinyl has come a long way – you can get wood-look vinyl windows or choose from several frame colors, like black, bronze, or white. Both wood and vinyl insulate well. The best advantage to vinyl is that it’s maintenance-free. Wood, on the other hand, needs to be repainted or refinished every 5-10 years.

The biggest advantage to wood frames is that they last a lifetime when well-maintained – more than twice as long as vinyl.

Is Fibrex a Better Material than Vinyl?

Fibrex is a composite window material made and sold by Andersen Windows. Fibrex is twice as strong as vinyl, has high energy efficiency, and is low maintenance. While Fibrex is a good, long-lasting material, the biggest issue is that just one manufacturer sells it, so your design options will be limited.

How Do You Clean Vinyl Window Frames?

Vinyl window frames are tough and can handle most multi-purpose cleaners. You can clean the glass on a vinyl window with a cleaner like Windex. To clean the interior frame, wipe it with a mix of dish soap and water and then dry with a clean cloth.

To clean the outside of your vinyl window frame, spray it with a hose to loosen up any stuck-on dirt. Then wipe the frame with a rag soaked in dish soap and water. Dry with a fresh cloth.

Do Vinyl Windows Decrease Home Value?

Replacing old, leaky windows with new vinyl windows will increase your home value, not decrease it. Vinyl windows are a popular replacement choice that you can order in many styles and colors to match your home’s exterior. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Does Andersen make vinyl windows?

Andersen doesn’t make a fully vinyl window. Instead, they offer vinyl-clad windows with a wood interior and vinyl exterior.

Do vinyl windows look cheap?

Old clunky vinyl windows can look cheap in a historic or wood home. But newer vinyl windows come in many colors and styles that accent a house and boost curb appeal. Window replacement is one of the highest ROI home improvement projects.

What causes vinyl windows to warp?

Vinyl windows don’t warp easily – in fact, it’s rare – but if overexposed to moisture or sunlight, vinyl can warp with time. If your vinyl window is warping, you’ll need to replace it or fill the gaps with weather stripping.

Can a vinyl window yellow?

Vinyl windows without additives to help resist fading can yellow. If you have older vinyl windows starting to yellow, you can replace them with a new fade-resistant vinyl window.

Final Thoughts

Vinyl is one of the most popular replacement window materials. It’s energy-efficient, durable, low maintenance, and affordable. You can find vinyl windows in various exterior and interior frame colors – some that look like wood.

But even with the advancements, one of the biggest downsides to vinyl is that it doesn’t coordinate with older houses or log homes. Vinyl also doesn’t last as long as wood and is hard to repaint, making it a less ideal choice for homeowners who like to switch up the look of their windows.