Vinyl and PVC can often be confused with one another, but the truth is that these two materials are not the same. Vinyl is a radical of ethane that refers to many different ethylene-based compounds and PVC is polyvinyl chloride and a polymer of vinyl chloride. PVC is a type of vinyl and is one of the most popular construction materials on the market.
When selecting replacement windows for your home it is important to make sure you are selecting the right material to stand up to the weather elements. For many homeowners, this is going to come down to selecting between either PVC or vinyl windows. This article focuses on pvc windows vs. vinyl windows, two different window products made of similar materials, but using very different manufacturing processes for the window components.
Vinyl windows are very common and made using components made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Polyvinyl chloride is a combination of different chemicals, plasticizers and pigments. Polyvinyl chloride is also used to make plumbing pipes, electrical pipes, and many other plastic items. Window components for vinyl replacement windows are extruded and contain hollow chambers. The hollow chambers make for a lighter product and easier for welding the components together.
The second type of window is also made from polyvinyl chloride. However, thru a different type of manufacturing process the components are solid. This material is known as Cellular PVC. Cellular PVC is unlike extruded hollow vinyl as it features a foam or cell-structure inside. It can be nailed, sawn and fabricated like wood. The window components (brick mould, sill, jamb, and sash rails) used to manufacture these windows look exactly like wood windows. Cellular PVC windows are solid and stronger than extruded vinyl windows which are thinner and can lead to warping.
Choosing between the two windows are difficult because they both have different attributes. Here are some things to consider:
1.Architectural Style – Vinyl replacement windows do not look like wood where Cellular PVC windows have the same architectural moldings as traditional wood windows.
2. Interior Design – vinyl replacement windows come in 2 interior colors, white and almond or tan. They are not manufactured to be painted. Cellular PVC windows can be painted to match your interior trim.
3. Energy Efficiency – Cellular PVC windows solar heat gain and U-factor, as tested by the NFRC, are the same as vinyl replacement windows when using the same glass type.
4. Maintenance – vinyl windows will never have to be painted. However, your color choices are limited and the color you choose will be your only future option. Once painted, cellular PVC windows require minimal maintenance.
One major factor to consider is loss of glass space. When replacing wood windows with a vinyl replacement window, there will be a significant loss of glass space. A vinyl window has its own frame and inserts into the existing wood frame of the wood window after the window sashes are removed. So imagine removing the glass from your window, and installing a new enclosed window in a frame where this glass area was. This will result in a significant loss of glass space which will result in a loss of natural light.
Based on the factors above, when replacing your windows, cellular PVC windows are your best option and will give you the highest return on your investment.