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What Are Vinyl Replacement Windows? Types, Pros, and Cons (Article)

November 19th, 2021 | 11 min. read

What Are Vinyl Replacement Windows? Types, Pros, and Cons (Article)

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A white, single hung vinyl window with the bottom sash tilted in

Photo credit: ProVia

Whether you notice damage around one or more of your windows or you’re just ready for an upgrade, finding the right replacement window can be overwhelming. 

So you’re trying to learn about the different types of replacement windows, their benefits and drawbacks, and how you can choose the right one for you. 

As you research replacement windows and narrow your options, you discover vinyl replacement windows. They are a less expensive material for windows, and you may have learned about newly engineered vinyl that makes them stronger and longer-lasting. 

However, understanding that there are different types of vinyl and that not all vinyl is created equal is vital to finding the best vinyl window for you. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement contractor in San Antonio since 1989. We offer a variety of window types, like aluminum, fiberglass, and some of the highest quality vinyl on the market. 

Because we’ve been around for so long, we’ve seen the transformation vinyl windows have made through the years. Vinyl used to have a bad reputation for warping under changing temperatures, becoming brittle and cracking. 

Now, some vinyl windows are just as durable as other window material types, but you have to choose the right vinyl. 

This article will explain what vinyl windows are, their benefits and drawbacks, and the three different types of vinyl windows. 

After reading, you will understand that not all vinyl is created equal and will be able to sift through all the low-quality, cheap vinyl and identify high-quality, long-lasting vinyl windows.

What are vinyl windows? 

Vinyl is one of the most common types of materials for replacement windows. Vinyl windows are those made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. It comes from a blend of ethylene and chlorine.

Vinyl is a synthetic plastic material, making it resistant to rotting and decaying from water and humidity. 

They have been on the market since the mid-1900s and come with numerous benefits. However, vinyl windows can carry a bad reputation, and when cheaply made, they are not as durable as they can be. 

What are the benefits of vinyl windows? 

Well-made vinyl windows are highly durable and flexible, but not too flexible.

Foundational shifting changes the shape of your home over time. You want your windows to be able to move a little with your home and when the temperature changes from hot to cold. Flexibility in windows allows them to move slightly without cracking or permanently misshaping. 

Vinyl windows are also on the lower end of the cost range for replacement windows. This is another one of their top benefits and creates a wide appeal to several replacement window shoppers.  They also have one of the better window warranties among all materials.

What are the drawbacks of vinyl windows?

The biggest problem with vinyl windows is that they are not very durable if they are not made well. Low-quality vinyl windows will bend, bow, misshape, and crack when exposed to changing temperatures. 

They can also fade quickly under intense sunlight, which can deteriorate the window even more.

Different types of vinyl windows

Not all vinyl is made the same. There are a variety of types of vinyl created for replacement windows, each with their own different qualities.

There are three main types of vinyl windows: standard, composite, and engineered. Here we will dive deeper into each of these types of vinyl to better understand which type may be what you’re looking for. 


1. Standard vinyl windows

Standard vinyl is going to be your regular, simple vinyl. All vinyl is made of PVC, but this type of frame will not include any additional material in its composition and will perform as standard vinyl does. 

This type of vinyl for your window will give you a sleek and simple look but will come with the problems of warping, cracking, and fading over time. Standard vinyl frames are usually made with a thin profile and hollow frame, making them less sturdy and less durable than other types of vinyl. 

If you are looking for the least expensive vinyl window and don’t need it to last for long, then a standard vinyl may be right for you.


2. Composite vinyl windows

Vinyl windows made of a composite material mean the frame is made of a blend of materials. Sometimes this can be fiberglass and wood or vinyl and wood. This creates a stronger frame than standard vinyl.

Composite vinyl windows are going to last longer than standard vinyl. They typically have more insulating properties and are made thicker, adding to the durability of the window.

This type of window will be a better option for you if you are looking for a vinyl window with a middle of the road cost that will last longer than a standard vinyl window.


3. Engineered vinyl

Engineered vinyl windows are created uniquely by different window manufacturers. What we mean by this is that there is not one universal definition of engineered vinyl. Engineered vinyl simply means that the vinyl has been blended and processed differently than standard vinyl to give it stronger and unique properties. 

This can include added insulation within the vinyl frame, creating the window to be fade-free, or an added blend to the vinyl to increase strength and resist warping and bowing. 

For example, Anlin windows are made with extruded vinyl that is titanium dioxide infused for added durability, strength, and energy efficiency. 

Andersen Corporation has a vinyl exterior cladding paired with a wood frame. The vinyl is engineered to be weather resistant and protective to the interior of the frame. This is not standard vinyl. 

An engineered vinyl window with proven durability and longevity will be the best choice for you want a window to last as long as you live in your home.


Are vinyl windows right for me?


Overall, vinyl windows have been engineered to be strong, durable, and long-lasting in your home. If you’re considering vinyl windows for your window replacement project, you need to make sure you choose the right vinyl type to meet your goals for your project. 

If you want your windows to last as long as you live in your home, you’re going to want to find high-quality, engineered, or composite vinyl from a high-quality manufacturer.

If you are just a house flipper or need a window replacement for a short time, then standard vinyl may be enough to fit your needs.  

With Southwest Exteriors, we offer high-quality vinyl windows that are made to last as long as you live in your home. We offer life-long solutions for long-term homeowners, so we know that we are not always the right option for everyone. 

Whether you know what window type you’re interested in or still trying to investigate every type, we want you to be educated on all your options so you can make the right decision for you.

If you’re considering vinyl windows, you probably want to know how they compare to other window types. This article compares vinyl and fiberglass windows in cost, durability, energy efficiency, and more. Then, you can feel confident in choosing the right window and be educated on all your options.