Vinyl windows are not windows made of vinyl. They are most definitely made of glass, but today's windows are much more than just flat pieces of glass. The glass is just one of many components that go into modern windows. It's critical that windows do more than just transmit light, and just as critical that they do not transmit heat, either into the house in warm weather or out when it's cold outside. The glass part of a window can help reduce heat transfer if it is doubled, or even tripled, and separated by spaces filled with inert gas. It's the supporting structure that really affects how well your windows will perform over time, and the bulk of this structure is made of vinyl.
High Quality vs. Low Quality Vinyl Windows
Heat loss and energy efficiency are on everyone's mind these days, considering the high cost of energy, so your choice of a high-quality vinyl window may just end up saving you some money as the years go by. The best way to be sure you're buying a high-quality vinyl window is to check for the ANSI/AAMA label. These abbreviations stand for the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). These organizations rate windows on a host of safety and durability issues.
While it's not legally required that all vinyl windows meet the very tough standards set down by ANSI and AAMA, by purchasing a certified window you'll know that they are going to perform well and justify their extra cost. Even windows that are not certified may still be of good or even superior quality, however.
When to Buy High Quality Vinyl Windows
A wise buying decision may come down to finding which window is right for the intended use. For example, at about 160 degrees, vinyl begins to soften and over time the windows structural integrity may be compromised. If you live in a southern or southwestern clime and your windows are exposed to long stretches of strong sunlight, it most definitely pays to invest in high quality vinyl windows that can take the heat without missing a beat!
Does Vinyl Discolor In The Sun?
An interesting fact about white vinyl windows is that not all of them are white! Vinyl is basically an organic substance that can be degraded over time. Most varieties of vinyl will discolor or yellow to some degree due to the chronic effects of sunlight and especially the sun's ultraviolet rays. Some manufacturers add titanium dioxide and/or a specific tin compound that make the vinyl very white and help keep it that way. A cheaper method is to tint the vinyl a very pale shade of blue, which serves to delay the onset of yellowing. These bluish vinyl windows may still be of very high quality in other respects. It all goes to show you: When it comes to vinyl windows, things aren't always as transparent as they may seem!