Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A new look at vinyl windows

Hey y’all!

You might want to sit down for this.

Really, I don’t want you to faint dead when you read this.

You’ve heard my dad, Rosie, put down vinyl windows for years and years on Rosie on the House. You’ve javascript:void(0)heard me do it, too, and the reason is simple and logical: Vinyl windows just can’t stand up to the hot Arizona sun.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can make vinyl windows sag and crack and fade and even chalk—and suffer from what we like to call that ugly vinyl “smile.” Once that happens, your windows will be the only ones at your house with a smile—because you sure won’t be happy.

We’ve always recommended aluminum-clad wood windows—wood windows with a sturdy aluminum armor that resists sun damage on the side that faces outdoors.

So here’s why I wanted you to sit down before you read this: Rosie and I are big believers in the Pella Windows and Doors brand—a brand that traditionally did not make vinyl windows, which typically cost quite a bit less than wood-framed, aluminum-clad windows. Now it does.

Rosie and I took a tour of Pella’s new vinyl window plant in Tucson, where the company makes its new Encompass vinyl windows and patio doors. I have to admit I was impressed.

The Encompass window is made with a steel-reinforced, interlocking sash, and a fully welded frame and sash to prevent heat transfer through the frame. But here’s the biggie: A chemical in the vinyl—called titanium dioxide—inhibits the UV light from causing the window frame to chalk and fade and smile.

Now, I still wouldn’t put vinyl windows in my own home. When I built my house, I chose Pella’s ProLine windows. You guessed it: They’re wood windows with a sturdy aluminum cladding on the outside, so I could stain the wood that’s exposed on the inside but I don’t have to worry about the sun ruining the outside of the windows because of the protective aluminum “skin.”

Those windows are good quality, and they cost a little bit more than vinyl.

Here’s my new thinking: If you can’t afford wood-and-aluminum windows, and you feel that vinyl is really the only kind of window that fits your budget, go ahead and buy Pella’s vinyl windows. They’re not going to be the best windows on the market because they’re made from vinyl. But they’re going to be the best vinyl windows on the market because they’re made by Pella. You can also hear me say this for the record from our October 25th broadcast by downloading this MP3.

The vinyl Encompass window comes with a lifetime guarantee on the frame, so if it starts smiling at you, you can go and smile at someone who works at your local Pella store—where they’ll make good on that guarantee. The window glass is also energy-efficient enough to block 80 percent of the outdoor heat from getting indoors, and it’s backed by a 20-year warranty.

That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever said about vinyl windows.

OK, you can stand up now.


Rosie on the House

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