Understanding the features that make vinyl windows the ideal choice for sustainable high-performance homes, buildings, high rises and more.
Luxurious uPVC vinyl windows take their rightful place as a quality choice for commercial and residential projects
For years vinyl windows have borne the stereotype that they are an inexpensively made, less durable product. However, there are vast differences between products within the vinyl window offering, and for many specifiers, high structural vinyl is celebrated as a material that goes far beyond what the naysayers know in terms of superior thermal comfort, acoustic insulation and strength. Smashing stereotypes, well-designed uPVC windows can withstand hurricane-strength winds with energy efficiency that qualifies for even the most stringent Passive House building certification.
To dispel some of the misinformation surrounding the use of vinyl as an appropriate solution, REHAU reached out to a number of key players in the industry to hear their thoughts on the versatility and benefits of vinyl for today’s building projects.
Luxury vinyl actually performs better than aluminum and wood.
“We definitely come up against the stereotype of vinyl windows being cheap as a material,” states Davyd Funk, president and CEO of EuroLine Windows, a manufacturer of distinctive windows and doors for private residence and commercial buildings. “We don’t deny that it’s a less expensive material, but a lot comes down to manufacturing methods. You certainly can get away with manufacturing windows more cheaply, but if you invest in developing the profile and putting enough material into the product, you can actually make it a luxury window that performs better than most other materials. Vinyl definitely performs better than aluminum or metal and its typically more effective than wood. Of course, you can also make it more aesthetically pleasing and fashionable.”
Solutions to overcoming the stereotype by focusing on performance.
The perception is such that some window manufacturers and dealers go so far as to stop using the word vinyl when speaking to architects and designers. “We changed some of our branding for glasshaus,” states Chris Meiorin, president of euro + glasshaus, a manufacturer of high-performance windows and doors, best known in Ontario for superior quality, custom craftsmanship and attention to details. “When we would approach architects with the Euro Vinyl Windows brand, we wouldn’t even get past the front door. They would hear the word vinyl and say, ‘No, I’m sorry. We won’t even talk to you.’ Now, because we don’t use the word vinyl, we're going into the same architects, with the same product, maybe a slightly modified branding. And then all of a sudden, the architects are very enthusiastic about speaking with us. Now they say, ‘Oh, glasshaus, I think we've heard of you. Come on in, let's talk. I'll show you what we’ve got going on.’ Because of this, we dropped the vinyl out of our name.”
For Rob Maslen, president of Kempenfelt Windows and Doors, it comes down to differentiation. With some big players in the game, Maslen believes that it’s important to have the tools to understand how to sell that differentiation. When Maslen presents REHAU uPVC windows, he knows he’s going to use the story of the brand. “REHAU is a massive company that’s well-respected and known,” states Maslen. “It’s not ‘some guy’ who just opened 8,000 square feet in a factory area who is going to start making windows or extruding vinyl.” For Kempenfelt Windows and Doors, the biggest differentiators are REHAU’s superior formulation, designs, and the use of steel reinforcement which his company has been standing behind for 30 years.
Vinyl today is far more sustainable using biobased plasticizers made of vegetable oil.
Kayvan Elahi, a polymer chemist by education and the technical manager of chemistry at REHAU, weighs in on the composition of vinyl windows. Elahi bristles at the word cheap to describe polymer. “It is inexpensive, yes, but it’s the manufacturing process and additives that are actually what make uPVC affordable,” states Elahi.
Perception is everything.
Randy Hoover, engineering manager for window solutions division of REHAU Americas, still feels there is a lot of work to be done to change the perception of vinyl windows or uPVC. “REHAU has made big strides with architects about the use of uPVC or vinyl windows, but there are likely many dealers and installers who will try to sell against it as a non-high-quality product,” states Hoover.
“When architects, developers and building owners are educated about everything that goes into the design and construction – and when they add in the low-cost upkeep factor, the continuous performance, thermally, structurally, guarding against air, water infiltration and other elements compared to traditional window materials, you can see them really understanding the value."
Hoover concludes, “Are we really there as far as being thought of as a luxury or high-end product? Not quite, but we’re getting there!”
By Katherine MacNevin, Marketing Manager, Window Solutions