As the weather gets cooler, many become concerned about how their home will react to the colder weather. The grass doesn’t fair well and trees become bare, but they always come back in the spring. Will the damage to your vinyl windows in the colder months affect your home for seasons to come?
Vinyl is a good option for many homeowners. In the past, it has had a bad reputation due to poor quality, but it has improved drastically throughout the years. It’s affordable, easy to install, and can be customized to your liking. But the colder weather can cause vinyl windows to become a detriment to your home instead of an asset to protect it.
What is Vinyl?
Vinyl is a sensitive material that expands and contracts in response to temperature. Vinyl windows are a very popular window option because of their affordable price. But because they are a product made of plastic, it reacts to the weather as any plastic would, contracting in the cold, which may cause worse outcomes for the efficiency and appeal of your home.
What are the risks?
Buckling or Warping
Vinyl expands and contracts from hot and cold weather. When it gets colder, this can warp the material and cause it to be uneven. And when the material contracts in the cold, the seal will no longer fit tightly around the window.
Vinyl is designed to be flexible to allow for expansion and contraction, as stated above. But because of its flexibility, it isn’t sealed tight to keep out water effectively. If moisture gets behind the waterproof barrier, which often happens, your home can suffer water damage. This can cause the wood underneath to rot, mildew, mold, or be affected by leaks. If the moisture gets in between the window glass panes, it can make the window look foggy or even dirty.
When the weather gets colder, cracking can become a problem for vinyl windows. When vinyl gets cold, it becomes stiff and brittle. If it is impacted by anything, such as a storm, rock, or tree debris, it can become cracked. Sometimes even opening and closing the window with a little force can cause breaks. If the crack is small, it may not be noticeable unless looking up close and can cause leaking and condensation in the wall that goes unnoticed until it is far too late. If the crack is large, this can allow water to move more freely through the cracks and ultimately, the window will need to be replaced.
Fiberglass, a superior option
If you’re worried about the damage colder weather can have on vinyl windows, it may be a good idea to explore fiberglass windows. Temperature, hot or cold, doesn’t cause shrinkage, swelling, or sagging in fiberglass. Your windows will keep a tight seal, and be resistant to water leaks around the edges. It is an exceptional insulator and is extremely energy efficient, about 15% better than vinyl windows at insulating your home. When you add up to 15% savings on heating and cooling your home every year, the small additional cost for fiberglass is quickly re-paid.
Fiberglass is waterproof, so water is unable to get under the surface of the window. Unlike vinyl windows, fiberglass window frames do not have seams, so they don’t collect gunk often stuck in window sills. More so, fiberglass has eight times the strength of vinyl, giving it significant strength against any type of moisture or temperature change.
Lastly, our fiberglass windows are made of Ultrex, a special kind of patented fiberglass that increases the benefits even further by contracting at less than half the rate of other fiberglass window options. With the better insulation properties, it’s a higher quality product for your home that makes a difference.
Vinyl vs. Fiberglass
Vinyl windows are often marketed as low maintenance and a better insulating alternative to other options. When we look at window options of the past, this is true. But the fact is, vinyl can’t hold a candle to fiberglass when it comes to insulation and durability. Some vinyl windows will only last three years, and up to 10. Vinyl windows not only contract in the cold but because of that, can cause inefficiency in your home to regulate temperature. When the window changes shape, it can become difficult to open and close the window.
When you understand the pros and cons, it’s easier to decide if vinyl or fiberglass is the better fit for your home. We always recommend the Infinity from Marvin fiberglass windows because of their superior strength, high efficiency, and customization options. And with the high-temperature fluctuation in Kansas - sometimes going from 20 degrees to 70 in a single day, fiberglass is always the more efficient choice.
Whichever you choose, be careful to choose installers that can fit the window to your home. How your window is installed is just as important as the window materials. Do your due diligence by checking the company’s history, previous work, and talk with a friend to choose the right installers for your home!