ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Are vinyl windows a smart choice in Arizona?

Aug 12, 2021, 3:00 PM
(DunRite Photo)...
(DunRite Photo)
(DunRite Photo)

While our long, hot summers have some homeowners wondering if vinyl windows are durable enough to be a smart choice for Arizona homes, they’re one of the most popular choices that Rosie-certified partner DunRite Windows & Doors installs.

If you are a longtime ROTH listener and/or reader, you’ve heard Rosie’s concerns about vinyl windows and doors. His sentiments go back to their introduction years ago, when the early generations of vinyl products justified his concern.

Today, modern technology improvements from certain manufacturers combined with the right installation experience can make them a viable option. We trust DunRite, and you can have confidence in their product recommendations.

Sal Sucato, owner, DunRite, explains how and why the vinyl windows and doors that are produced today can last for decades.

“With durability that can last more than 30 years in the Valley and even longer in cooler northern Arizona climates, a growing selection of color choices and innovations make it one of the most energy-efficient materials available, vinyl windows offer a substantial amount of bang for the buck,” he says.

However, good performance relies on the quality of the product being installed. So how can you tell if you’re choosing a product that will last? Are there any drawbacks to vinyl, compared to other types of material? Can you paint them? Do they come in black?

Let’s tackle some of the most common questions DunRite is asked.

How long do vinyl windows last?

One simple indicator of quality in a vinyl window is the rigidity of the frame. Does it have some heft to it, or is it light? Look for a window of substance that isn’t lightweight, or so thin that it can be flexed. You want something thick enough to withstand decades of sun without warping or sagging over time.

Price is an indicator of quality along with warranty coverage. A bargain-basement price can signify lower quality vinyl or too high of a ratio of virgin-to-recycled vinyl, which costs less but is weaker and less durable, making it a high-risk choice in our climate.

A short warranty coverage period can indicate the manufacturer’s lack of faith in the product. After all, they won’t provide a 10-year warranty on something they know only lasts eight years, so look for robust coverage.

“When shopping for new windows, it’s important to realize that the product warranty is provided by the manufacturer, which differs from the installation warranty provided by the installer. Be sure to clarify so there are no misunderstandings,” says Sucato.

“Also ask if labor is included or excluded from warranty coverage.”

Learn more about warranty coverage and red flags.

Other than warranty coverage, there are a few other signs that the vinyl may not be high quality.

To uncover the information, ask questions about the longevity of the product in your specific climate, and compare the information to several different product lines to get an idea of what life to expect.
You can also ask which product(s) the salesperson prefers and if certain ones are more prone to warranty claims. If that company sells multiple brands, they’re likely to be forthcoming with information since they have more experience and information than those who sell products from a single manufacturer.

The ideal way to judge quality is to see a cutaway section of the window frame or even hold the window product in your hands to judge the quality yourself. Because most salespeople don’t bring the product when they visit a home, ask to see a cut-away photo of the product or visit the manufacturer’s website before making a product decision.

“Don’t assume quality because it’s made by a certain manufacturer. Each product line is different and priced accordingly. It’s helpful to know that each window manufacturer has their proprietary vinyl compound, too,” adds Sucato.

“These vary widely, and some are more suited to Arizona climates than others, so ask about vinyl additives and compounds. They determine how well the product performs, and how many years the window will last before needing replacement.”

Can you paint vinyl windows?

One common misconception by homeowners is that the color of the window frame isn’t too important, since they can always paint it later. But it is important to note because vinyl windows (and doors) cannot be painted. Color is infused throughout the vinyl, and the surface isn’t likely to hold onto paint for long, even when using primer. It flakes, peels, and bubbles.

The only exclusion to the “never paint vinyl” rule-of-thumb is when the painting is done by the manufacturer during product assembly. It’s done before the glass and hardware are assembled. Also, they use their own formula of paint that includes specialty heat additives, which prevent it from peeling in hot weather conditions.

For example, if you purchase a vinyl window that is white on the interior and black on the exterior, it’s likely to be painted since black vinyl is currently unavailable, but includes some sort of warranty on the finish.

Learn more about black vinyl windows

It’s worth noting that painting can void the homeowner’s warranty, due to chemicals in the paint and/or primer that soften the vinyl and reducing its structural integrity, or because it blocks drainage holes in the frame that prevent water damage. Paint can also prevent the window from easily opening or closing, or lock-up hardware.

For all of these reasons and more, it’s important to choose a color you’ll be happy with long term, even if the exterior paint or roof color on the home changes.

Quality, warranty, and color are important areas to consider.

“Still unsure if vinyl windows are right for your home and budget? Contact us,” says Sucato. “We’re happy to chat.”

Founded in 2001, DunRite Windows & Doors is a family-owned business that installs products from the top window and door manufacturers carefully screened for their quality and warranties, including Pella, Andersen, Thermatru, Milgard, Anlin, Arcadia, Masonite, and more. Double-pane vinyl to high-end wood windows, DunRite offers a wide variety of replacement options, backed with a Rosie-approved reputation for five-star service, great prices, and a smooth, hassle-free experience!

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Are vinyl windows a smart choice in Arizona?