Best Vinyl Windows – Complete Buying Guide
You’re ready and focused on tackling a window renovation this year. Updating your windows can add so much beauty and energy efficiency to your home.
Replacing your old windows with durable, energy-saving, and low-maintenance vinyl windows is an affordable update that offers lots of options in style and quality.
There are several things to understand if you want the best vinyl windows for your home. Here’s what you need to know.
Pros and Cons of Vinyl Windows
As with any home improvement product, there are advantages and disadvantages to vinyl windows.
Vinyl windows are made from PVC. It’s a flexible material that becomes rigid when used for windows. It offers insulating abilities and holds uniform color that never has to be painted, stained, or refinished.
Here are some advantages to look for in the best vinyl windows.
- Energy Savings
Window manufacturers have the option to participate in The Energy Star program.
The Energy Star rating sticker that you see on windows helps you to identify windows that meet standards set by the EPA and DOE as a product that is a top-performing energy-efficient product.
Rigid PVC used in windows has a higher R-rating than pine or aluminum. This means that your vinyl window can regulate temperature transfer during hot and cold seasons. In short, you can expect lower cooling and heating bills.
In addition, many of the best vinyl windows are exceeding the minimum standards for an Energy Star rating.
Look for advancements in technology that help with better sealing and glass that inhibits heat transfer from leaving the house and heat coming in from the outside.
- Recyclable Material
Contrary to a long-held belief that recycled PVC is not as good as a virgin (first time made) PVC, studies actually show that PVC can become even stronger as it is reprocessed or recycled.
For those of us concerned with shopping for greener alternatives in construction materials, vinyl windows offer a stable material that can be recycled again and again.
Whether a product is affordable can be measured in two ways. The initial price of the window and installation measures affordability. Longevity and durability are also cost factors.
Unlike wood, vinyl does not peel, crack, or warp from the elements. This is a cost-saving in maintaining the window. Think of your time and the price of stains and paints to keep a wood window looking great.
When comparing the price of vinyl windows, make sure that you are comparing the same grade of window. Window manufacturers typically have a good, better, and best grade for their windows.
- Variety of Colors
Vinyl windows have come a long way in color options. Years ago, white or beige were the only options.
Today’s vinyl windows come in many color options and even a wood grain look. Expect to pay a little more for colors that are not readily available at a home improvement store.
There are also windows that have vinyl on the exterior and wood on the interior that can be stained to your preference.
The low maintenance features of vinyl windows are what attracts many consumers. However, remember that the color you choose is permanent. If you decide to paint or replace siding on your home, you will have to choose a color that goes well with your windows.
- Customization Limits
The best vinyl windows are reinforced with metal in the framing. This allows for strength in supporting large and heavy glass. The style of window you can customize will depend on how much reinforcement material is used.
Types of Vinyl Windows
Vinyl windows come in many shapes and sizes. The following are definitions of standard vinyl window options.
- Single Hung
This style opens vertically. Only one of the sashes moves. It is standard for the bottom sash to lift. Often used in front windows.
- Double Hung
It is also a vertically opening window. However, both sashes can move up and down. This style makes cleaning easier because many models have windows that tilt in.
The window opens horizontally when sliding along casters in the frame.
This style of window is hinged on the side and cranks open to the outside. You can have a casement window that opens outwardly to the left or right. They are nice as ornamental windows overlooking a garden or backyard activities.
The window is hinged and opens to the outside from the top. As long as the wind is light, you can keep these windows open during rain. They are often used for basements.
Many vinyl window manufacturers offer specialty windows, such as garden windows, bay or bow, and custom geometric shapes.
Understanding Glass Types
How energy efficient your windows are will depend on the type of glass used.
- Single Pane
This is one pane or sheet of glass. It makes viewing the outdoors very clear, but it does not offer very much in the way of insulation.
- Double Pane
Two panes of glass are used with a spacer in between. The spacer between the panes of glass provides a sealed chamber between panes that holds air or injected gases. This offers more thermal protection by creating a double barrier.
- Triple Pane
Yep, it’s three panes of glass. Spacers are inserted between each pane of glass. This creates two chambers of air or injected gases that offer more insulation against thermal gain or loss.
- Low-E Glass
This is low-emissivity glass. The panes of glass are coated to reflect the sun’s rays away from the window and still allow natural light in.
Hard coat Low-E glass is a coating that is applied during production and fuses with the glass to a hard but clear coat.
This type of coating is great in homes located in extremely cold climates. It allows some short waves from the sun in from the exterior panel and reflects heat back into your home from the interior pane.
Soft coat Low-E glass is a coating sprayed on in multiple thin layers. As each layer is sprayed, more protection from the sun’s harmful rays are reflected.
Manufacturers of The Best Vinyl Windows
There is a multitude of great window companies that are producing vinyl windows. This is a list of manufacturers (in alphabetical order, not ranking) that are considered the best.
They earn this distinction based on reputation, energy efficiency, durability, and/or customization options.
Andersen has been producing vinyl windows for over 50 years. The EPA has awarded Andersen its Sustained Excellence Award for 2021. Energy Star awarded Andersen with its National Window Partner of the Year in 1999.
They have a design that many homeowners prefer. The core of the window is pine. The exterior is covered in vinyl and the interior view is wood.
The combination of both a wood core and weather-resistant vinyl make Anderson’s design a strong and durable window.
There are customization options and a wide variety of hardware styles.
Andersen has a limited warranty on glass and other components of the window that are transferable to a new owner of the home.
Andersen 200 Series Double Hung 35.5×47.5. Wood interior and Vinyl exterior. 2 exterior color options. (Home Depot price $282).
It is one of the largest manufacturers of windows and doors in the USA. Jeld- Wen has been in business for nearly 60 years. It has been an Energy Star partner since 1988. Jeld-Wen is widely available in home improvement stores.
There is a large selection of both builder’s (new construction) grade and premium vinyl windows to choose from. Offers unique shapes for vinyl windows.
Jeld-Wen offers a limited lifetime warranty on residential vinyl windows.
Jeld-Wen V-2500 Series Double Hung 35.5×47.5 with Better View mesh screen. Desert sand color. (Home Depot price $434).
Milgard has been manufacturing windows for over 50 years. They are an Energy Star partner. They have been named Best Quality Vinyl in the Nation nine times by Builder Magazine.
Milgard touts a unique formula for their vinyl windows that outlasts others. Its formula preserves the look of your vinyl windows from fading.
There is a lifetime-limited warranty on your windows for as long as you own your home.
Milgard Tuscany Series Double Hung 36×48. (Double not available in Trinsic Series). (Home Depot price $440).
Pella has been in the window business since 1925. The Pella brand is well-known for its wooden windows and doors. How does it hold up with vinyl windows?
For energy efficiency, Pella offers vinyl windows with multi-chambered frames.
Pella’s 250 series vinyl windows were recognized by Energy Star’s Most Energy Efficient award for 2020. The multi-chambered design features double and triple-pane glass and insulating foam, making it a leader in reducing heat and cooling costs.
Expect to pay a little more for Pella vinyl windows. Their brand has a customer base with high numbers of reviews that stand by their customer service and quality of windows.
Pella also offers vinyl windows in a collection called “Hurricane Shield”. They are engineered and recognized as being able to withstand strong coastal winds and hurricanes.
Strict guidelines for installation are followed with training programs from Pella. With locations all over the country, you can find a certified installer in your location.
Pella 250 Series Double Hung 36×46. White vinyl interior and white exterior. There are color options for the exterior that must be ordered. (Lowe’s price $174).
Ply Gem Windows
Ply Gem has been in business for over 75 years. It was recognized as Energy Star 2021 Most Energy Efficient. Has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
A variety of window sizes and styles are offered. Ply Gem also offers windows with combined materials of wood and vinyl.
There is a limited lifetime warranty that is transferable should you sell your home.
Ply Gem Classic Series 36×46 Double Hung. White interior and exterior. You can special order 3 interior color options and 6 exterior color options. (84 Lumber quote $325).
Polaris has been manufacturing windows for over 40 years. All of Polaris windows are Energy Star rated. Polaris is a smaller, family-owned business.
Problems with condensation on glass have been reduced with Polaris’ patented Intercept “Warm Edge” construction. It is a stainless steel spacer that resists moisture from building up between panes of glass.
Eleven exterior colors to choose from. There are also five interior color options, including a wood grain look.
Polaris has a lifetime warranty that is transferable to the second owner.
Polaris ThermalWeld Plus Double Hung 36 x 48. (Polaris manufacturing quote $340).
How Much Do Vinyl Replacement Windows Cost?
Vinyl windows have come a long way in offering more customization, colors, and strength. Their durability and energy efficiency offer homeowners an affordable option over traditional wooden windows.
Your vinyl window cost will be determined by size, quality of materials, and cost of installation.
When shopping to find the best vinyl windows, consider the Energy Star rating for determining energy efficiency that will save you money over the long term. Ask your installer about the technology used by the manufacturer to enhance protection from thermal transfer.
Remember, the larger the window, the more structural support it will need. Your installer should be able to clearly explain how the window is constructed and the additional supporting material used for strength.
Get A Free Estimate On Installation Of Your Vinyl Windows
Keep in mind that the best vinyl windows are only as good as your installer.
Get easy and professional estimates on the installation of vinyl windows in your area by contacting 5 Estimates today.