For generations, windows were made only of wood. Aluminum entered the scene in a big way after World War II. It was inexpensive to make but didn’t offer the aesthetics of wood. Then vinyl was introduced to the marketplace, in the 1990s. The original vinyl windows were first available in one color—white—and were constructed with cheap vinyl frames that yellowed, cracked and become brittle.
Today’s vinyl windows, which account for 70% of both residential and commercial marketplaces, are constructed of virgin vinyl, which eliminates many of the issues, and are manufacturer tested over 20 years. They also offer better insulation properties. Vinyl can be produced in basic light colors (from white to silver) to match both the exterior and interior of your home. They can even be used to match the color of aluminum windows if needed. Or are available in clad (vinyl or aluminum on the outside and wood on the inside). Due to consumers attraction to woodgrain products, a few companies have developed a three-dimensional grid outside the glass to create the feeling of wood.
Vinyl windows are available as double hung, casement, bay and bow, picture, sliding, awning, and in specialty configurations.
Vinyl windows work in a number of situations including environments that may limit the life of wood such as homes near the ocean (saltwater is deadly to wood) or in the mountains (where they risk exposure to snow and ice). They are a good choice for homeowners who want a durable product that will retain its look over the years at an affordable price.