premium versus bargain vinyl window crosscut image

It’s a quality showdown – a premium vs. bargain vinyl window. So, 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 of choices. 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. There are two different types of manufactured vinyl: re-ground or recycled, and virgin (made from scratch).

Re-Ground Vinyl

This type of vinyl is a byproduct of various recycled vinyl products. Re-ground vinyl is made with vinyl resin and is 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. This cheaper alternative makes up the majority of bargain and buy-one-get-one vinyl windows. And you can tell if it’s all re-ground vinyl 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 bargain alternative, a window made with a virgin vinyl frame is stronger and lacks the bluish tint of inferior quality products. That is what you get with Harvey.

Three Features to Look For

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

The Corners

The corners will indicate a low-grade vinyl window. Primarily if the joints of the window frame or sash are held together with screws or a bracket. 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. Harvey windows have clean fully-welded corners.

The Cross-Cut

Ask to see a cross cut of any vinyl window you are considering. Also, 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) Premium vs. Bargain Vinyl Window Brand (right)

premium vs bargain vinyl window frame extrusion
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.  Bargain Brand X is using a hollow plastic sweep that will wear down over time. Skimpy locks compromise security and can snap off after just a few years. Harvey’s dual-action low profile sweep lock is a heavy-duty metal made to last and locks into a reinforced metal receiver on the sash. Examine the hardware on any vinyl window you’re considering. You can see and feel the difference in quality.

harvey tribute dual action sweep lock

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 and come with a warranty that is top-rated by J.D. Power. We have a proven track record of standing behind our products. 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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