Updated: Oct. 10, 2023
Published: July 16, 2020
Long stretches of 100+ degree weather, and constant sun beating down on a home can be tough on windows. Is vinyl a mistake? Can I use vinyl windows in Arizona without having heat-related issues that impact performance or longevity? Some homeowners have concerns about vinyl as a budget-friendly option.
At DunRite, we are in favor of vinyl windows as a safe option, but there’s a caveat: those vinyl windows must be a high quality product.
There are many excellent options available, but while they might look similar on the outside, the quality can vary tremendously.
To ensure the product is Arizona-proof, consider these five tips.
The window feels substantial.
Sometimes, simply touching the product can provide important insight into its quality. Is it light or heavy? Does it have any give when you try to flex it? Soft vinyl isn’t durable. You want a substantial window that is thick and heavy, with multiple chambers within the frame to reinforce strength.
If the salesperson can’t show you the actual product, asking to see a cut-away piece or image of the product can help you judge strength of the internal frame.
Any salesperson should be fully transparent about the brand, name of the product line and warranty of the products they recommend, so feel free to do your own research and comparisons.
Click here to learn about vinyl windows we carry and their specific vinyl window options: Do Vinyl Windows Last in Arizona Heat?
The vinyl formula is a proven compound.
Made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), virgin vinyl is a soft material. It expands and contracts in hot or cold weather, and is prone to sagging, warping, fading and other issues. What makes it suitable for windows and appropriate for Arizona weather are the additives used in conjunction with the vinyl. These determine how well the product performs, and how many years it lasts before needing to be replaced.
Good quality vinyl windows can be expected to last 20-35 years in Arizona, but you get what you pay for. The vinyl compounds are proprietary to the manufacturer and vary widely, making it essential to go with a brand of windows proven capable of handling Arizona weather.
If the price seems too good to be true, it may not be the quality you’re expecting, so be sure to ask about expected lifespan, look at the specs for maximum temperatures, and take a very close look at the warranty to make sure it does not exclude warping and sagging.
It meets the new EnergyStar requirements.
Energy Efficiency is perhaps the single most important feature of any replacement window or door purchase; homeowners want to keep the heat from the sun outside, where it belongs. It’s worth noting that the EPA is planning to release new EnergyStar requirements for windows and sliding glass doors in 2024, and it impacts Maricopa County, which falls within the Southern Zone. It’s actually a bit more flexible, allowing homeowners to choose either a U-factor and SHGC of ≤ 0.21 and ≤ 0.23, or 0.22 and ≤0.21. The change is designed to accommodate a wider selection of product options. It’s also removing the performance grade of ≥15 from the NAFS (North American Fenestration Standard, which has not proven to be beneficial in a product’s energy performance.
Since some cities in the Valley of the Sun require a permit to replace windows, you’ll want to work with the salesperson to be sure you’re purchasing product that meets current standards, and meets any permit requirements set by the city where you reside (if any).
The warranty is robust.
Warranties are important for the coverage they provide if the product should fail to perform as expected, but they serve another purpose, too. They reflect the manufacturer’s confidence in their product, due to the materials used. A two-year warranty reflects a very different faith in longevity of a product when compared to a 10-year or lifetime warranty, for example.
It’s important to balance the budget you’re spending with a clear understanding of how long it’s expected to last, and the warranty coverage exclusions and provisions, in case it doesn’t. When comparing products that are fairly similar, the warranty can be the deciding factor.
You can use vinyl windows in Arizona, but choose ones that are made to last.
Minimal use of recycled vinyl.
As a man-made product, vinyl can be ground up as a recycled product that costs less than virgin vinyl. However, it is not as durable and strong. Using recycled vinyl or a blend of virgin vinyl and recycled vinyl can reduce the cost of the windows, but this can be risky in Arizona’s extreme temperatures.
If the product is listed as using recycled materials, we recommend confirming if it is the vinyl, not other materials such as glass or metal, and learning as much detail as possible before purchasing that product.
We recommend only purchasing window product that is 100% first generation virgin vinyl, or includes no more than 15% recycled vinyl. It’s preferred that any recycled vinyl is virgin vinyl scrap from their own manufacturing processes, clean of any contaminants, rather than ground recycled materials purchased from an outside source.
You’re comfortable with the quality your budget can afford.
At DunRite Windows & Doors, we work within homeowner budgets every day and understand how important that is. However, taking time to be an educated consumer is important.
Bargain basement prices can signify vinyl product that isn’t strong enough for Arizona heat, inexperienced installation, or pre-made windows not custom fit to the sizes of your home’s window openings. All of these things can lead to issues, so having a solid understanding of what you are purchasing is critical. And how do we recommend knowing if the price is fair or not, and how the quality compares? Obtaining several quotes can be a great way to evaluate product. Just be sure to compare apples-to-apples for like product, and/or compare based on similar longevity, quality and energy-efficiency standards.
If you have questions if you can use vinyl windows in Arizona, which products are more likely to last, or other questions about a window purchase, we’re happy to chat. Just click the blue button below to schedule your appointment.
(Image courtesy of Milgard, from their Trinsic vinyl window product line.)