The Importance of Product Quality
Like any other consumer product, the window industry has many product grades ranging in quality and affordability. With increased demand for vinyl windows, there has been a significant increase in manufacturers offering various product qualities. Choosing the right windows and doors will affect the overall performance, look and comfort of your home. A few important things to consider are:
What are the vinyl frames made from?
Not all vinyl is created equally and there are two main types; newly-made (Virgin Vinyl) or re-ground (recycled vinyl). Virgin vinyl trumps recycled vinyl because:
- There will be no discolouration issues over time
- It contains lower VOC’s
- Offers better resistance to impact with increased dimensional stability
- Can be safely recycled/repurposed later in life
- High stability as the materials used to make it are simple: just vinyl
What’s in the window?
When you cut a vinyl window frame in half, you will immediately notice the thickness of vinyl as well as the structure of the frame. The thicker and heavier the vinyl frame is, the higher quality and performance you will have. Multi-chambered heavy vinyl frames of 2.2mm or greater offer added strength and help to eliminate the frame from sagging. A high quality manufacturer will add steel to further strengthen over-sized windows. A multi-chambered frame will result in superior thermal break efficiency but it’s important to realize that it may cost a little more upfront, with energy and cost saving benefits showing throughout the life of the window.
Take a look at the frame corners!
The corners of a vinyl window can tell you a lot about the quality. A good quality frame will have fusion-welded corners. By welding the corners together, just like welding metal, the result is an impenetrable joint which maximizes energy efficiency. Good corners will have the excess vinyl from welding removed. Ensure the window corners are not screwed together or chemically welded because this method will break down over time and result in reduced performance and maintenance or replacement costs.
Will the product function well?
To determine a products functionality, there are a few hardware related items to focus on.
If you’re looking at sliding windows, brass rollers offer a smoother glide over plastic or neoprene rollers which are typically found on lower quality products. Metal locks will hold up longer and lock tighter than plastic or vinyl locks.
If you prefer casement windows, the roto-cranks will be very important. A folding handle will not interfere with your blinds and it offers a cleaner look. The internal gears should also be metal and not plastic, which tends to strip prematurely. Remember, you’ll use these features every day so it’s important to consider these options.
What type of glass is in the windows?
All windows, enforced by law, come with LoE coatings, which is a coating that can either reject heat gain or encourage it. Knowing what you want will be crucial to the comfort of your home. Sealed units using Cardinal LoE 180, 270, 366 or i89 coatings with argon gas can meet or exceed local code requirements as well as offer EnergyStar ratings.
Company longevity and warranty.
As consumers, we need to understand that companies close down for a variety of reasons or there is a change in ownership, which results in the voiding of all warranties. Any company can offer a lifetime warranty regardless of how long they have been in business. Find a company that will be around in 20 years to ensure that your investment is sound. Take a look at online and third party reviews, the direction of the business and the fine print in their warranty. Lifetime warranties that are “limited” or “pro-rated” are not what they appear.
Remember, overall product value does not relate to cheapest price. While it is easy to just focus on the upfront cost you need to consider product longevity, energy savings, and ongoing maintenance and premature replacements that might be needed. If you lose 25% or more in energy costs on a cheaper product, you will need to add that cost onto the initial cheaper product price as well as your monthly energy bills forever. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low prices is forgotten."
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Centra Sales Representative