Vinyl windows have been promoted by companies for many years. Recently vinyl has come under the scrutiny of many institutions and governments for its viability as a method to reduce energy costs and alternatives to standard framing methods. While there are benefits to vinyl windows, such as flexibility, ease of installation and large color range, many studies by the government and academic institutions have uncovered problems relating to vinyl windows.
Vinyl windows often warp when installed in areas prone to extreme temperature changes. Warping of the frame can cause many problems and issues with leaks and insulation. Warping, besides being unsightly, will lead to dry rot in the surrounding wood frame work of the window and can provide an entrance point for pests. Larger window frames are susceptible to bowing from the weight of the window frame. Bowed window frames are open to the elements and will either need to be replaced or be repaired.
Vinyl windows can sometimes become brittle, which can lead to cracks and damages in the frame. Over a period of years, the frame will chip away so that it will either need to be replaced, or repaired with sealant. Cracking and chipping in the windows can also lead to air leakage and weathering problems. Cracking is very common in colder areas due to the large difference in outdoor and indoor temperature. Higher exposure to UV rays will also lead to cracking and several other problems.
Vinyl windows often become discolored. When vinyl is exposed to the UV rays of the sun, it will discolor over time; turning white frames yellowish. Dark colors will fade to a much lighter color. Another problem with fading is that it is difficult to paint vinyl windows. The owner can either replace the window, complete a difficult painting process or leave the faded window frame.
Another possible problem with vinyl is the price. Vinyl is often priced well above the actual cost of manufacturing. Some installation companies may try to sell the product well over cost. If the vinyl is overpriced, the buyer ends up suffering because of it. While most products are sold above value, the retail price of vinyl is typically much higher than the manufacturing cost.
Some manufacturer's warranties do not cover any of the problems associated with vinyl. Few vinyl manufacturers offer long-term warranties for their products. However, some vinyl manufacturers will offer limited or complete warranties on vinyl windows.