Windows -- why vinyl?

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Hello all...
I've got an old house, built in 1911. It still has the original windows.
I'm having the roof replaced, and the guy who's going to do it does windows/siding as well.
Like everyone else I've talked to, he offered vinyl replacement windows.
My question is: Why always vinyl for windows?
I've looked around at them, and have never been impressed by their construction or quality. They just look "cheap" to me.
What makes them better? Or -- is it just about "cheaper"?
If I was going to have the windows done, I'd probably want something like Pella "450" series -- that is, basic wooden windows with aluminum cladding on the outer surfaces.
The wooden windows in this house are old, and yes, in need of replacement. But somehow they lasted 100 years. Will vinyl replacements have similar longevity?
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vinyl does not conduct heat as well as aluminum,so vinyl window frames will have a higher R rating.
maybe lighter,too,so easier to raise and lower.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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-snip-

If you lived in the northeast you could pay for a new set of windows of almost any description in a few years.

There are vinyl *replacement* windows and vinyl windows for 'new construction'. I don't like the looks of the replacement style and have finally finished replacing all the windows in my 100 yr old house over the past 25 years. All were 'new construction' windows. More work, but a lot more flexible. Only 4-5 windows are anywhere near the size of original windows.

For replacement windows, I think *cheap* is the goal.

Probably not, but depending on where you live, they might pay for themselves in a couple years and be 'making you money' after that.
Jim
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On 5/9/2012 10:07 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Speaking of cheap. I was able to take some of the expense directly off my taxes. I remember I would have been screwed that year if I hadn't bought those windows.
Now I think it's only $500.
--
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On 5/9/2012 10:06 AM, Jim Yanik wrote: ...

Not necessarily; there's a thermal break on an Al clad window; it'll depend on the particular windows compared as to who wins.

They'll have the load matched to the weight just as any other window...
--



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On Fri, 11 May 2012 03:11:44 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@snet.net wrote:

years, mint condition. They're so efficient all they did was turn my house into a chimney!  All the heat was rising up through the attic.

insulate that attic, the floor only, unless it will be lived in.  Repair cracked plaster ceilings or replace with sheetrock.  This will eliminate drafts creating the illusion of worn out windows & doors.

 Better off repairing/retrofitting doors - a lot more "drafts" can be eliminated that way. :)

Unless you house has those crappy sashless windows that were so common in the sixties and seventies - or the crappy aluminum framed loose-fit sliders form the same era, or the wood frames (jams) have ratted - which is a common occurence - in which case installing "inserts" is a loosing battle and totally foolhardy.
Installing "inserts" in the windows of this house would have been a real exercise in futility. Putting in custom built "new construction" windows was a cinch, in comparison
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On Mon, 14 May 2012 23:08:09 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

years, mint condition. They're so efficient all they did was turn my house into a chimney!  All the heat was rising up through the attic.

insulate that attic, the floor only, unless it will be lived in.  Repair cracked plaster ceilings or replace with sheetrock.  This will eliminate drafts creating the illusion of worn out windows & doors.

 Better off repairing/retrofitting doors - a lot more "drafts" can be eliminated that way. :)

My brick house had standard wood double-hungs. And aluminum triple track storms. Had all that removed, and vinyl thermal-glass crank-out inserts put in. It was all simple and clean. They pulled the storms, outside blind stops, and removed the window sashes from the outside. They filled all voids in the existing and sound frame with fiberglass. (The old windows had side springs, not sash weights.) They braked and nailed in aluminum flashing on the old frame. The inserts fit in flush against the inner stops, which were never even disturbed. 2 screws per side on the inside fastened the insert to the frame. They shot foam in, but not much because there was hardly any gap. Then a thin bead of caulk all around the inserts, and the outside of the flashing. I just inspected the windows. After 7 years it all looks good. Might have to dress up the caulk in 5 years or so. I love it not having window painting/maintenance to think about. Unless you get up close, they look no different than wood windows. You lose about an inch of opening with an insert. In my case I gained many inches of glass and light, because I eliminated the double-hung middle horizontal sashes. All the windows were plenty wide to begin with. I can see how you have to give some thought to the cosmetics of windows, and I did, and I'm happy with the look. Exterior trim - which I don't have - has to be considered. But the mechanics of it are simple if you have sound frames and can find inserts to fit. That was no problem for me.
--
Vic





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On 5/9/2012 9:14 AM, John Albert wrote: ...

Very good...

Because they're cheaper and what most all the guys who do siding, etc., stock.

The do indeed, and many are. There are a (very) few that are actually pretty good, but even they look like vinyl and completely out of place on a vintage home.

B.
...
Surely doubt it; many ads I see on TV are for replacing replacement windows that haven't been there 25 yet, what more 100.
I'd seriously consider whether the existing windows _really_ need replaced or simply repaired and perhaps refitted. This house is about the same age (a couple years later) and when the folks retrofitted it in the late 70s/early 80s replaced the old window weights w/ new sliding self-raising tracks and refit the original windows w/ upper sash leaded glass) and added modern storms for the energy savings.
Retains the character of the house _much_ better than throwing a plastic window into a vintage building where it just looks cheap (irregardless of how expensive it may be in reality).
I've been looking to redo an entry way that was originally just an add-on porch and found that Pella can make new double glass hi-e windows w/ all the modern features (tilt in clean, etc.) and still have genuine leaded upper sashes to match the originals.
Not cheap, but surprisingly not _that_ much of a premium over the standard...I don't have the datasheet at hand; I'll look up the series and post later.
OBTW, the other hangup w/ the vinyl replacements is probably the trim, both interior and exterior. Chances are you've got wide treatments and perhaps even what would go for custom handwork in these days of minimize any labor that you'll lose as well.
All in all, think carefully about this; aesthetics are important, too.
--
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We used to carry a line of "archetectural" vinyl windows that looked great in older homes. Can't remember the brand but I THINK they came out of Quebec. Wood grain, stained, on the inside, and permacolour on the outside to match the house - older colours of green, brown, ivory, etc.
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On 5/9/2012 4:43 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote: ...

I guess the operative words there are "used to".
I've yet to see any vinyl (or fiberglass or other manmade substitute) that really fits in a period architecture. They stick out like a sore thumb no matter what.
There may somewhere be one that doesn't, but I've yet to see it.
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On 5/9/2012 6:09 PM, dpb wrote:

When I was in London I noticed the white vinyl really sticks out and looks tacky on the old rustic buildings. The vinyl ones I got for my house are the darkest I could find, and they blend in well, but they don't look as nice as the old aluminum ones did.
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On 5/9/2012 6:17 PM, gonjah wrote:

...
...
I didn't notice them enough in London to make an impression--then again, the time in London was all spent in the historic areas that are pretty much controlled as to what restoration must do to preserve appearances.
I did notice in the time in and around Rochester/Chatham area where have spent quite a lot of time that in residences where weren't so controlled they seemed to pop up in retrofits that were often glaringly out of place, indeed. At least there didn't seem to be much of the g-awful vinyl siding... :)
I intend to eliminate the Al storms used when did the retrofit on this old farm house in favor of a traditional look when do the entry. Will likely also take the wide steel siding back off and revert to a narrow 3 to 4" siding to bring back the look of the original as nearly as possible. An old farm house ought to look like an old farm house, particularly on it's 100th b-day which is just a couple years away. I'm hoping to have it all spruced and be able to compare photo's to the ones have when it was nearly new taken some time in the early 20s.
--
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They do have fiberglass models. Also, the aluminum separators in some glass, use steel instead, for better thermal break. I have gone through lesser quality model vinyl's to better ones, and the price differential was not that much. Some installers use more expensive brands, but I don't know if they are worth it.
Greg
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wrote:

I had every window except the living room aluminum clad Andersons replaced with vinyl windows (inserts) 7 years ago. Crankouts on main floor, sliders in basement. They all still crank and latch fine, and slide fine. Brick house, no exterior window trim. Looks much better than the old wood double hungs, and aluminum storm windows. Look no different than the Andersons. White is white. They vinyls look the same as the day they were installed. They also clad the old frames and sills with aluminum. No maintenance at all. And the house loses less heat or cooled air. Don't know the brand, but a sticker says Guardian Acclimate Series. Couple guys who did windows for other family members. They work in the factory where the windows are made, so they get a good price or steal them. $4400 for 19 new windows. There were 22 old ones. but we replaced 3 triples with doubles. That's why I used vinyl - they were cheap. No regrets. They look good to me. White. Don't know what I'd do for new windows with a gingerbread house, and I'll never find out.
--
Vic






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wrote:

The difference between crap and good is very small, cost-wize. From good to very good a bit more, and from very good to crazy over-the-top-fantastic is HUGE. And in many cases you pay for the "perception".. You need to know what you are paying for. Anything using Rehau extrusions is a quality window.
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wrote:

Some look cheap, others look pretty good.
Vinyl has many advantages with insulating value, cost, ease of installation, no maintenance, and best of all . . . no maintenance. No painting, no patching.
The final decision will depends on your budget, style of house, and personal preference. One big factor though, even a cheaply made vinyl window will keep you warmer than old wooden double hungs from 60 or 100 years ago. If you want "the best" look at some of the upper cost models and compare.
As for your roofer, it is easier to sell a Chevy than a Caddy so that is what many window guys offer.
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Not around here. I worked for 2 window companies a few years back, and full tear-out is the way to go, even with vinyl windows. Putting new windows in the old sash is a cheap-assed way of doing things that looks like crap and doesn't perform much better.

The only "good" vinyl window is a custom window for replacement. New construction you build to fit the window. Replacement you make the window TO fit the hole, you don't make the window fit the hole.

With custom built windows, it can actually be faster and cheaper to do it right than to "cheap out" and then pay to cap the old window frames so you don't need to paint THEM. You use vinyl windows because they are maintenance free, right??
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Wrong, no wonder you worked for "2", probably got fired from them both. Doesn't sound like you have much experience.

Make up your mind. First you say you make the window to fit the hole, then you say you don't. Sorry I said you sound like you didn't have "much experience", you now sound like you don't have _ANY_ experience. Fact is, I was speaking of new construction windows with wooden sashes. Most vinyl windows custom to fit the hole, but you can buy stock size vinyl windows. Think this one was over your head also.

You still gotta make them weather tight, but sounds like you are one of those caulk crazies, instead of custom brake work.
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Not fired from either, and I wasn't an installer - but I DID install all of my own - total frame out. All the "quality" window replacement companies here highly recommend the full frame out. The "we can do it cheaper" guys do the inserts. May be different in other areas - but here, where brick veneer houses are common there is no siding issue - and on the upper story of my house with aluminum siding I didn't touch the siding. The secret is proper measurement and getting the windows made to fit PRECISELY into the opening.
In some cases the brick molding option allows you to install into a less than perfect opening, with the brick-mold covering the edge.
When you see my house, and the houses the two companies I worked for did the install on, you don't even think "windows replaced". You think the windows have stood up exceptionally well.
The only opening in my house that was done with an "insert" was the back patio door, replaced about 25 or more years ago, about 5 years after I bought the house. There was a bad leak. the door HAD to be replaced and nobody stocked the proper size for a frame-out - and I wasn't willing to wait for a custom order. If I was doing it again I'd have put in plywood untill the custom fit door was delivered.

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I used cut pieces of vinyl glued on to fill gaps. That's after proper adding insulation and sealing cracks. I usually spend about 4 hours or more on each window in a brick home. I like inside window sills. Most companies will bring the window inward to make it easier to install. I have to add side plates insulated with foam to do my thing. I have had some trouble, including installation companies, by not making sure sliders have not sagged down in the middle, making it difficult to take out the windows.
Greg
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