In the years immediately after World War II, Germany lay in ruins. Needing to rebuild, German construction firms looked for a material that could help them build windows without draining already scarce resources such as wood or aluminum. By the early 1950s, they turned to a product called vinyl.
The first vinyl windows were prefabricated, bulky, and unattractive, but they provided an important solution for a devastated Europe.
Vinyl windows have come a long way since then. Here are six ways that vinyl replacement windows have improved over the years.
When manufacturers introduced vinyl windows to the American market in the late 1950s, they cost twice as much as aluminum windows, and consumers were wary of investing in the new material. But since then, increases in the price of aluminum, alongside improvements in the vinyl manufacturing processes, have enabled vinyl windows to become the most affordable option on the market. Not only is the price competitive compared to wooden replacement windows or aluminum replacement windows, but they also are easier to care for while providing better energy efficiency and utility savings.
Many early vinyl windows were installed with screws or nails in the corners, making them unstable and susceptible to leaks. Contemporary vinyl replacement windows now have welded corners, drastically improving the window’s seal and reducing any chances for leaks or damage that inhibits opening and closing of vinyl replacement windows.
Early vinyl windows were all storm windows because manufacturers were unable to produce windows that could truly replace the elegance and multi-purpose functionality of traditional windows. Technological advances, however, have enabled vinyl replacement windows to come in a variety of styles, including picture, double hung, sliding and casement. Vinyl replacement windows now can meet any criteria homeowners have, from functionality to energy efficiency to the aesthetics of the home.
4. Inert gases
Early vinyl replacement windows were single-pane. Now, vinyl replacement windows have at least two panes, and are specially engineered with inert gases between the panes. These gases (such as argon) prevent energy transfer and provide insulation. This is one way that replacement windows make homes more energy efficient while still providing the benefits of sunlight and a view of the outside world.
5. Warm-edge spacers
While insulated glass units themselves provide insulation, the spaces that hold the panes in place can also absorb heat. When exposed to direct sunlight and hot outside temperatures, traditional metal spacers expand, causing heat to enter the home and forcing glass to expand and contract (accelerating seal failure). Currently, Duralite spacers provides the lowest U-value (heat transfer) by ensuring that no metal touches glass. This ensures that the glass has a longer and more effective life, while providing much greater energy efficiency.
6. No-fade colors
Early vinyl windows didn’t fare well against sunlight. Colored vinyl often faded, while white vinyl frequently yellowed. Today’s vinyl windows feature colors that don’t wear or fade in a variety of colors and finishes due to their enhanced UV inhibitors.
Over the past 70+ years of their history, vinyl windows have seen a lot of improvements. As technological advances provide an ever-growing variety of vinyl replacement window options, homeowners now have more choices for home improvement projects that include beautiful and energy efficient vinyl windows.