Homeowners often take windows almost for granted – until they break, or get old, and need to be replaced.
Then you quickly find out that the range of choice (and costs!) can be daunting. Will vinyl window replacements work for your home and budget?
The cost to replace windows varies according to the size, number of windows needed, style, material, and quality.
Vinyl replacement windows are the most common type of frame installed in modern homes, for a number of reasons.
What Are Vinyl Windows?
Replacement vinyl windows are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. It’s a versatile synthetic plastic polymer, which can be mixed with a range of chemicals and pigments. The composite structure means PVC can withstand direct sunlight and sub-zero temperatures, and it comes in a range of different colors.
Vinyl Window Replacement Pros and Cons
Vinyl window replacements are a great option for most homes, but they also have a few limitations to take note of.
Price: Vinyl window replacement costs are lower than wood or fiberglass. Even top quality vinyl windows costs are often more affordable than the entry-level options in wood or aluminum.
Low maintenance: Replacement vinyl windows won’t need any painting. The only maintenance you’ll need to worry about will be cleaning with a cloth or sponge.
Along with lower cost, lower maintenance is one of the top reasons that homeowners choose vinyl vs wood windows.
Energy efficient: Vinyl frames can be just as insulating as wood frames – especially the better-quality frames, with hollow pockets that are filled with additional insulation. You can also claim federal tax benefits for upgrading your windows if they are more energy-efficient.
Style: Any type of window style, including a custom-designed window, can be produced with a vinyl frame. Your casement, picture, double hung, or single hung windows can all be made from vinyl.
Resale value: According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value report for 2019, vinyl replacement windows recoup slightly more at the time of resale than wood replacement windows. Vinyl windows’ return on investment (ROI) is 74.3% while wood’s ROI is 69.5%. Therefore, vinyl windows will increase the value of your home more than wood.
Less durable: Vinyl replacement windows might be easy to maintain, but they’re not as durable as other materials. The frames can break easier than wood or aluminum, and the color can fade over time. PVC manufacturing methods are continually improving, though.
Shorter lifespan: Wood frames can last decades (sometimes even centuries!) if it is well maintained.
Most vinyl windows last between 20 and 40 years on average. Windows installed in an area exposed to the bright sun for most of the day will not last as long.
Vinyl Window Features To Look Out For
The cost of vinyl replacement windows depends on a number of features, besides the obvious size variable.
The quality of the frame, type of installation, type of glass panes, and condition of the existing window frames will all play their part on your total expenses.
One of the best ways to determine if you’re buying a quality product is to take a look at the frame’s cross-section. Vinyl window frames are hollow on the inside, with different chambers. A higher quality window will have more chambers that are smaller. This makes the windows able to expand and contract more easily, making them more resistant to weather.
Ask your window supplier about how the windows fit together. Will the installer use screws and caulk, or welding? Welded windows are more energy-efficient, and last longer.
Pay attention to the glass panes of the vinyl windows: a good-quality window will have double or triple panes, treated with a Low-E coating. Low-E, or low-emissivity, glass is designed to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light that comes through your glass, and reflects heat. This helps to maintain a constant temperature inside your house.
If your existing window frames are damaged by rot or insects, you will have to replace the entire window. If the frames are still solid, you can opt to install new glass instead, which will cost less.
Vinyl Replacement Windows Costs
Now that you have some idea of what makes a better quality vinyl replacement window, here is an overview of average prices for windows of different materials.
The installation/labor cost of vinyl windows is about $195-$350 each.
Vinyl Window Warranty
Vinyl replacement window costs are an investment into the value of your home, so it’s important to know exactly what kind of warranty you have.
Many suppliers will offer a lifetime transferable warranty – meaning that the warranty is valid for the next homeowner, if you decide to sell your property.
These windows are not a great choice if you live in a historical home, where the original wooden windows are an important feature.
For any other house, vinyl replacement window costs are affordable for most homeowners, and the frames are both durable and stylish.