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Old 10-23-2008, 03:48 PM   #1
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


I'm replacing the origional wood windows in my 1951 house and I'm not sure if I should go with vinal or thermal barrier windows and need some advice.

Here's what the sales person said:

Thermal Barrier- aluminum construction inside and out with a "thermal barrier" that won't transfer heat sandwiched between the two aluminum parts of the window. Supposedly, these are more durable and secure

Vinal- supposedly "premimum, virgin vinal" but sales person claims they are easier to break and remove whole frame in cold weather. I was also told that with direct and constant sunlight on all sides of the house except the north side (only one window on the north side), that the vinal would degrade and have to be replaced in 7-10 years.

My concern is that with the window and frame both being aluminum, over time the metal-to-metal contact will cause problems with opening and closing the windows. The vinal is about 10% less than the other windows, but that's enough of a difference to be a big factor in the choice.

So, any experience or knowledge where these windows are concerned?

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Old 10-23-2008, 05:09 PM   #2
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


I have installed both vinyl and aluminum windows here in Florida for over 14 years and will give you my take...
Aluminum windows MAY be stronger than a vinyl window, but only if it is a quality window. I have seen some so cheap that you have to be careful not to bump them or they may dent. Most aluminum windows are not that poorly made. Aluminum does transfer heat and cold much easier than vinyl, but not as severly if they contain a thermal barrier. Aluminum may be the better choice if you require a dark color such as brown or bronze as I have found that brown vinyl windows will fade slightly when exposed to years of direct sun.
Virgin vinyl windows will last very well, even in direct sun, but have seen where cheaper vinyl windows (maybe made from recycled materials?) do get more brittle after many years of harsh exposure. Subjecting them to undiluted bleach will also harm/etch the finish. One company I used to install for was a national franchise that carried a very good quality vinyl window at a very low price due to the buying volume that the national company had (local competitors could not purchase the same window for less than the amount that this company charged including the install).

Some things to consider when purchasing your window, be it vinyl or aluminum.

1) Double hung or Single hung. Double hung means that both the top and bottom sash (sash is the upper or lower half of a window) can be opened. Single means that only the bottom sash can be raised/lowered. If they are replacement windows (not new construction) you may want to consider double hung as they are easier to install in many instances. Some vinyl companies charge little more for double vs single. Most double hung, and some single hung windows are built to tilt in which makes it easier to clean the class (esp on a upper floor) or to remove the sash if needed.

2) Definitely double pane (two pieces of glass sandwiched around a moisture absorbing desiccant bead). I've often said that single pane glass is slightly one step above having no glass in the opening at all! lol

3) Low-E is a glass option that helps keep the heat out in the summer or cold out in the winter. It also has UV blocking to protect your carpet/furniture from fading. I would definitely reccomend this option. Not only will your home be more comfortable, but it will save you money on heating/cooling as well as less strain on your a/c. Some companies claim that having all glass (including sliding and entry doors) can save up to 35% on heating/cooling costs.

4) Argon gas. This is am inert gas injected into double paned windows that acts as a sound barrier to outside noises as well as reducing conduction/convection. It is often included with the puechase of Low-E.

5) BALANCES! One of the most overlooked or unconsidered part of a window. I would definitely NOT reccommened any other type of balance than 'constant force'. This uses a strip of stainless steel that coils inside the track of the window as it is raised/lowered. I have rarely seen them fail as opposed to the high failure rate of 'spiral' , 'rope-n-pulley' or 'spring' type balances.

6) Grids. This is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Some people prefer the clean, contemporary look of no grids (the muntins or lines between the glass of modern windows) while others like the charm or nostalgia that the grill look adds. If you are not replacing all windows or are trying to maintain the older look of a home that has grids, then you may want to add these as well. They can be ordered on custom windows in almost any style or design. This is an easy area to save money when considering your window choice as many companies charge per sash (2 sashes per window).

7) Other glass considerations:
Tempered Glass. usually required if within so many inches of the floor, a door, or in a bathroom. Whomever you purchase from should be able to inform you of the code requirements for your area.
High Impact or hurricane glass. Again, it may depend on your local codes. Some areas in my county near the beach require all new glass to be high impact AND installed with a shutter system where other areas may require one or the other.
Frosted or obscure glass. Great for bathrooms where blinds or shutters are not desirable. You can save money here if you can get away with only frosting the bottom half(lower sash) plus still can look out the window without having to open it. (Not a good idea for windows that are located in a shower! lol)

One thing in your favor is the current economy. Many companies are hurting and needing the cash flow and may be willing to deal, esp on the extras. They may be willing to throw in the Low-E if it looks like thats what it takes to get your business. If you are dealing with a salesman that comes to your home, they REALLY hate not closing then and there, but don't let the first one rope you in.

I'm sure that there is something I may be forgetting, but hopefully I have helped you and others with their decision, since I often get asked this very question. DO get more than one estimate! You would be amazed how large a difference prices and quality can be. The main company I used to install vinyl windows for were very often 1/2 the price of competitors, but offered a higher quality window with a lifetime warranty! I loved working for them, but as much as I tried to deny getting older, my body would always tell the truth...lol
HTH,
Brett

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Last edited by wrangler; 10-23-2008 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 10-23-2008, 05:15 PM   #3
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


Just a P.S. to my rather lenghty (but hopefully informative) post. Wood windows are by far the easiest window to replace when equipped with the right knowledge. If you need help or advice, feel free to ask. It almost felt like Christmas or stealing when I had a large job that had wood windows being replaced with vinyl. Got to the point where it would take less than 20 mins from start to finish per window. If you have little or no experience, let me know what you have and will write you another lengthy post! lol
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Old 11-04-2008, 03:50 PM   #4
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


WOW! Great Information! Thanks!!!
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Old 11-04-2008, 11:13 PM   #5
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


MeraleeCrowl

I work for Barrier Windows so it may be easier for me to clear up some information about our windows and competitors.

Competitors windows:
Competitors make window frames out of vinyl. Vinyl is composed of all sorts of recycled plastics that have been treated with acid baths and bleached numerous times (6 to be exact) and after are melted down and bleached again to make vinyl window frames. These frames are weak, they warp, and stain very easily. They are weak because of the amount of processing, they warp because of the amount of times they have been processed and because they have no reinforcement inside of the frame (vinyl has low structural integrity), and they stain because vinyl is porous meaning when it is warm the pores in vinyl open up and is susseptable to getting stained.

Vinyl windows have a double paned glass, separated with an aluminum spacer, and filled with argon gas. Regardless in direct sunlight or not, the temperature changes in the vinyl window will allow that aluminum spacer to expand and contract very slightly. Unfortunately when that spacer contracts even a little bit the argon gas inside will leak out. This will occur early in the life of the windows, leaving your window inefficient within a year or so. Vinyl windows will save you at best 10% off your fuel bill at a depreciated rate. Of course this isn't ALL cases but it is a lot of cases. The reason the insides of your windows also get cold in winter is because the glass on the outside gets cold, transfers to the spacer, then transfers to the inside pane.

Barrier Windows:

Barrier windows have NO aluminum to aluminum contact, i don't know what the sales rep may have showed you, but the two spacers in between are steel and are separated by a Poly Thermal barrier that prevents any sort of conduction from glass to spacers and spacers to inside pane. Our frames are made out of PVC which is PURE un-recycled vinyl. This vinyl is also reinforced by aluminum inside the frame so it never sags. PVC doesn't stain, or warp.

Barrier guarantee's you a double lifetime warranty as well as a 40% energy pledge. The quality in these windows you cannot beat. You may have dealt with a newer associate and if that is so i would be more than happy to come out and go into great detail about windows as i have been with the company for some time.

A home is normally a persons largest investment and i like to see them put in a product that they get what they pay for. If you have any questions you can reach me at 970-571-3434. My name is Chris Conacher and i would be happy to answer and and all questions that you may have. I hope the information i gave you will help you with your decision, i work for my company even off the clock
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Old 11-05-2008, 11:50 AM   #6
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


Looks like some great information already left here for you. If you have more information or would like further reading on pros and cons of Vinyl and Aluminum windows, check out the website on my profile. We have a specific section devoted to each window style.

I hope this helps!

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 11-05-2008 at 07:09 PM. Reason: Site Rules Violation: Web Links Removed
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Old 11-05-2008, 04:46 PM   #7
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Thermal Barrier Windows vs Vinal Windows


That's great information. I ended up going with the aluminum thermal barrier windows. It was only 500 more for the whole house and they just felt like the smarter choice.

Unfortunately, I forgot that we were hitting deer season, so my prospects for help (brother and father) are out of the picture until almost Christmas, so I had to hire out the installation (and a few other jobs).

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