Over the past half century or more, window technology and innovation have delivered successive waves of new products, manufacturers, and manufacturing techniques. Each generation was, in its time, the latest and greatest. Today, the most difficult part is, you could say, choosing from the wide variety of windows available on the market. Wood, aluminum, vinyl and a number of alloys product an almost infinite number of variables for the consumer. And there are even hybrids; wood and vinyl materials combined into a single window frame to give the “best of both worlds”. A wood finish on the exterior, with the functionality provided by vinyl on the inside.
Aluminum is probably one of the less preferred materials, at least in the average home. That’s because aluminum is an excellent conductor or heat. This means the heat inside your house can travel through the aluminum frame quickly, far more quickly than a vinyl frame would allow. Aluminum is also subject to corrosion, especially if you live near the ocean where the briny sea spray creates a rough surface on aluminum if give time and proximity to the sea shore. In almost every circumstance, vinyl will be the preferred option.
The history of vinyl window frames
A few decades ago, someone had the bright idea that vinyl would make a superior substitute to wood and metal frame windows. Thew idea was right, but manufacturers came to market a little too quickly, it turned out. The first vinyl window frames were weak. Often it was the actual glass inserts that were giving the product the little firmness it had. So, instead of the window frame supporting the glass, the glass was supporting the window frame. It wasn’t long before customers began complaining, and products were being returned. It didn’t happen immediately, but when it did, it was a disaster. Not only did some manufacturers have to replace or refund their customers’ purchases, they didn’t have a vinyl window product they could replace them with. In addition, there was the labor cost of replacement. Some manufacturers went out of business, while others hunkered down to design a truly effective window frame with an improved, vinyl material. This newer generation was a big hit; they were easier to install, lighter to carry around, cost less, and were more effective. Today, vinyl is very popular, and for almost all home owners, vinyl is superior to both wood and aluminum.
Narrowing down your choices of window frame materials
Manufacturing of window frames has become so sophisticated and produces a superior, highly accurate product, the value it brings to a homeowner is huge, and far better than what was expected of a window product a few decades ago. Modern manufacturing techniques mean that today, if you can dream a product, it can be made. And consequently, every Joe with an idea of how to do something better can set up an off-shore manufacturing and bring a product to market. Today, such a business is challenged in the marketplace, not in the factory. The result is, there are many window providers in the market, and the choices are endless, even from a single brand.
When you visit your windows installation company – probably a company within driving distance of your home – plan on spending some time going through the catalogs of the most established companies. Today, each such catalog looks more like a telephone book like those we used to use twenty years ago.
Visit a windows installation company that has a showroom
Some of the better windows installation companies have a showroom where you can examine actual samples of windows. They usually have samples of windows, and sometimes cut-aways that allow you to see the internal structure of a window. Remember, a window today has to perform a lot of tasks: Insulation, visibility, moving parts, privacy and security. It also has to provide a barrier between two places that can have an extreme difference in temperature. Take the time to examine the structure of the window frame you are considering. They are certainly not all equal, but getting educated about the internal structure of a window can teach you a lot. Some are excellent at insulating the heat in your home, while others are less effective.
If you are considering staying in your home forever, you will likely want to invest in a product that will last, and will perform its job well for its whole life. This may cost slightly more, but will be worth it, as you enjoy its service for the rest of your life, perhaps.
If you are planning to sell your house soon, a bigger investment in windows might actually be a little wasteful, and is less likely to give you a return when it comes time to sell the home.
Whatever your circumstances, getting educated about what your options are is wise. Your trusted windows installation company will provide you with product documents, probably, which you can take home and examine at your leisure.
There’s always room at the top
Just as in many trades, companies pop up and go out of business quickly. They often do not price their product and service at a sufficient level to stay in business. And yet others, decide to go “under the radar”, offering a service for cash at a discount, but they are not licensed or insured, which introduces all manner of risk to the homeowner. Not being insured means that, if they have an accident on your property, you may be liable for huge amounts of compensation.
Choose a windows installation company that is fully licensed and insured, and has been in business for at least ten years. Because they are paying to insure their workers, you are also safer. And if they have ten years of experience under their belts, they will likely do a superior job, too. You can also look up their reviews on the various social media communities. There’s nothing better than hearing what a previous customer had to say about the windows installation company you are considering.
See you next week!