So what’s the difference between a premium and a bargain vinyl window? If you’re choosing new windows for your home, vinyl is likely one of the options you’re considering. Vinyl windows have longevity in the market with over 50 years providing long-lasting durability. It is affordable, low maintenance, and resistant to insects and weather.  A vinyl window is a good insulator and helps with noise control. But there are hundreds to choose from. Here are some of the differences:

Additional Resource

You may also be looking at fiberglass or composite windows. See our vinyl vs. fiberglass article for more on that.

Not all vinyl is the same

Sure – you’ve seen nightmare stories about vinyl windows showing a flimsy, bendable frame. But not all vinyl is the same. In fact, vinyl itself is produced in two different ways: re-ground or recycled, and virgin (made from scratch).

Re-Ground Vinyl

Re-ground vinyl is exactly what it sounds like – a byproduct of various recycled vinyl products. Made with vinyl resin, a re-ground is used to produce the vinyl found everywhere from fencing to pool liners. Using all re-ground vinyl resin for windows can reduce the cost, but it adversely affects the quality of the product. Most bargain and buy-one-get-one vinyl windows are made with this cheaper alternative, and you can tell it does if it has an almost-too-white bluish tint.

Virgin Vinyl

Extrusions produced with virgin vinyl resin is a stronger, more pliable material and thus more durable – especially in climates that go from one extreme to another. Proven to outlast the cheaper alternative, a window with its frame and sashes made with virgin vinyl resin are more structurally sound and lacks the bluish tint of cheaper products. That is what you get with Harvey.

How is the window made?

The vinyl material itself is not the only factor in determining quality. Keep an eye out for three equally important features on how the window is made: the frame and sash corners, the thickness of the vinyl, and the hardware.

The Corners

An indicator of a low grade vinyl window will be if the corners of the window frame or the sash are held together with screws or a bracket of some kind. Fusion welded vinyl corners are optimal for thermal performance and structural integrity. Even some bargain vinyl windows have welded corners, but keep an eye out for rough, ugly ridges. With a Harvey vinyl window, you get clean fully-welded corners.

The Cross-Cut

Ask to see a cross cut of any vinyl window you are considering – and definitely be skeptical if they don’t have one to show you. A bargain vinyl window will look flimsy with thinner vinyl walls. Thicker and heavier vinyl walls with additional air chambers found in premium vinyl windows will be more durable and always serve you better over the long term. Compare with Harvey and you’ll see the difference.

Harvey (left) vs. Bargain Vinyl Brand (right)

The Hardware

Quality windows have quality hardware. By hardware we mean the locks, cranks and lifts. These should be easy to operate, feel comfortable in your hand, and most importantly – durable. Take a look at the comparison below. Bargain Brand X is using a hollow plastic sweep that locks into … a hole cut in the sash? This compromises security and can snap off after just a few years. Harvey’s comparable sweep style (featured on Slimline and pictured below) is heavy-duty metal made to last and locks into a reinforced metal receiver on the sash. Definitely examine the hardware on any vinyl window you’re considering. You can see and feel the difference in quality.

Additional Resource

Still thinking? Great! Check out this additional, unbiased, research from our friends at This Old House – 6 Tips on Shopping for Vinyl Windows

Install a vinyl window you can be confident in

Harvey Windows are engineered and manufactured in the US. We stand behind our long-lasting vinyl windows with an industry-leading warranty that’s top rated by J.D. Power. Harvey’s reputation for great products and our highly rated service team is why we’ve seen such longevity and growth in the market. Always double check product warranties and ask who would help you fix your windows if anything were to happen.

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