Sunday, March 13, 2011

Would You Fly in a Vinyl Airplane?

I don’t wish to continue a rant against plastic/vinyl/PVC windows, but I can’t help provide a link to a website entitled 137 Things Window Companies Won't Tell You about Vinyl.  Based on the postings in the website, its apparent webmaster quit posting new quotes around five years ago (2006).

This website is a computation of quotes about the problems with “vinyl windows” from numerous sources such as the government, building industry and even from window manufacturers.

Here are my top 20 (of the 137) notable quotes:

20. This Old House Website 2005 - Worrisome Windows - “Consumers are inundated with ads from regional window companies that promise miracles. Maintenance-free windows made of sturdy vinyl that will not rot, pit, rust, or wear out. Such claims have helped make replacement windows a $3 billion industry. Many of those windows will not last as long as the ones they replaced.”

19. U.S. Dept. of Energy - "Four times since 1994, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy consumer fact sheet on windows, stated that vinyl windows can warp, twist, bow, fade and crack."

18. U.S. Dept. of Energy 2002 - “Vinyl frames are not very rigid. Vinyl windows with large openings usually require an internal metal extrusion to make the frame stiffer. This can lower the frames R-Value significantly. Vinyl window frames can also soften, warp and twist if heat builds up within the frame. In hot sunny climates, direct exposure to sunlight is not recommended.”

17. Canadian Dept. of Natural Resources Consumer Guide 2005 - “The disadvantages of vinyl framing material is that vinyl expands and contracts with temperature. Opening up cracks for air leakage.”

16. University of Massachusetts Building Technologies Website 2006 - “Vinyl window frames fade, are unpaintable, gets brittle and is thermally unstable, especially in dark colors. It expands and contracts more than aluminum or wood, or even the glass it holds. Vinyl frames have the potential for causing increased air leakage over due to this

15. Brown University Website 2006 - “PVC’s resistance to heat is so low even just on an average sunny day, window frames made from the material emit a slight odor known to irritate hypersensitive individuals.”

14. University of Alaska 2006 - Building in Alaska - “PVC is not an ideal choice. This is particularly so for the colder climates of the far north, where greater temperature differences are a concern. PVC expands (or contracts) four times faster with temperature changes than does either wood or fiberglass. This stresses the external caulk weather seal. During times of extreme cold, the window literally shrinks away from the wood rough opening.”

13. Journal of Light Construction 2005 - “Vinyl windows have experienced problems with losing their shape as the horizontal dimension has increased. Vinyl is still years away from a final answer on durability.”
12. Washington Post 4/9/2005 - “Vinyl frames are not strong. Vinyl frames get soft and warp. They are dimensionally unstable causing warping, cracks, and air leaks.”

11. Minnesota Green Housing Website 2006 - “Vinyl, especially when colored tends to turn brittle and discolor over time.”

10. Healthy Building Website 2004 - “Vinyl windows have a higher thermal expansion coefficient. They can become brittle, yellow and develop cracks over time with exposure to sunlight.”

9. Healthy Building Website 2006 - “Vinyl windows have a higher thermal expansion coefficient that can lead to water leaks and other maintenance problems. They can become brittle, yellow and develop cracks over time with exposure to sunlight.”

8. Website 2006 - “Vinyl windows often look chunkier than wood because the vinyl isn’t strong enough to be made into ultra thin parts. The other problem is that vinyl looks unmistakingly plastic.”

7. Website 2006 - “Vinyl-clad and PVC frames on the interior will off gas over time releasing small amounts of vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen in humans. Vinyl, especially when colored, tends to turn brittle and discolor over time. (5 to 10 years in some cases)."

6. Building Website 2005 - "The Study of Long Term Performance of Operating Windows Subject to Motion Cycling found that air leakage through the vinyl casement windows increased 136%. (Significantly more than fiberglass or wood). Unreinforced PVC profiles are subject to distortion. This is caused by the lack of rigidity
and the high coefficient of linear expansion of sash members.”

5. Builder Website 2006 - “The #1 construction defect is window failure.  Leaks around sill-jamb corners of aluminum windows. Fogged dual-pane glass.Vinyl windows with poorly designed weeps.”

4. Sustainable Website 2006 - “The lifespan of uPVC is unclear. It is known that low quality formulas degrade over time, breaking up and becoming brittle. Most uPVC will end up as waste.”

3. Vinyl by Design Website 2006 - “Vinyl is not currently specified for commercial high rise due to extreme wind loads resistance requirements. Failure to install vinyl windows with appropriate clearance between the frame and rough opening can lead to frame distortion, which in turn, can lead to expensive water damage, broken glass, damage to seal and inoperable windows. In addition, increased heating and cooling costs for air infiltration.”

2.  On the Website 2006 - “Vinyl is nothing more than PVC or plastic. From the minute it is produced, it starts giving off free chlorides, (sort of plastic oxidation or deterioration). Eventually it becomes brittle and susceptible to cracking.”

….and the number one:

1.     Window Review Website 2003 - "Some homeowners are under the impression that one brand of vinyl window is better and less prone to performance problems than another.  But PVC is PVC.  Would you feel safe flying in a vinyl airplane?"


  1. At least we can easily open our vinyl windows which is not the case with four of our new H Windows. Doesn't this company stand behind its products? We also have gotten a speedy response for any concerns we have had with our vinyl windows which, once again, is not the case with H Windows. We've been waiting four months and still have no resolution to the problem.

    1. Thanks to Jason our problem has now been resolved. Thank you very much!

  2. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
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  3. Thanks for the post! Vinyl windows are worth the money. It would give a lot of benefits upon installation though the purchase cost is a bit high.

  4. Thanks for your post which is truly informative for us and we will surely keep visiting this website.
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