There has for a long time been a worldwide trend of seeing anything made of plastic as something negative, because of the prevailing problems caused by misuse of them. This isn’t always the case though, and there are many types of plastic we use in our day to day lives which we may not even realise are part of the family of this extremely versatile substance. Interestingly enough, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is actually much older than you’d think, having been created by accident in a lab in Germany in 1872, by an industrial chemist, Eugen Baumann. Since then it’s had ample time to be improved upon, and today it’s one of the most useful materials we have available.
What are the characteristics of a PVC window?
- PVC windows are made of the durable and strong substance, Polyvinyl Chloride. It’s a synthetic polymer, which comes as a solid or flexible type of plastic.
- PVC is comprised of various chemicals, plasticizers and and pigments, which means it can come in a select variety of colours.
- Because of the relatively low melting point of PVC, it is easy to work with and weld together, meaning it can be fastened or joined easily.
- It is one of the least thermally conductive building materials, meaning it doesn't conduct heat or cold easily. This makes it extremely energy efficient.
- For the same reason, it doesn’t lose heat easily, meaning that over long periods of time, regardless of winter weather (Especially in the Northern United States) Your house can retain a warmer temperature without you using a heater for long periods.
- PVC is also hydrophobic, meaning that water doesn’t ever seep into or through it, and it also dampens sound very well, making it a fantastic choice for sound recording studio businesses or quiet rooms.
- PVC windows are constructed to keep rain out of the house, and are better suited than standard glass windows for this purpose.
Upsides and Downsides of a PVC window
- PVC is corrosion and warp-proof. This means that no extra maintenance needs to be done on these windows beyond cleaning them.
- Heat doesn’t escape as quickly, and cold doent enter as quickly, making them the best windows for colder climates.
- The colors are fade resistant, so there is no need to repaint them once they have been installed.
- PVC doesn’t involve any wood, and is recyclable, making it one of the most eco-friendly materials.
- For modern homes, it is a great choice, especially those looking for the contemporary or postmodern styles which persist across the United States.
- There are a multitude of options available for glazing, including double glazed windows which are even more energy efficient than single pane windows.
- They do not rot, and because they do not transmit sounds easily unlike glass, they are not likely to rattle.
- Without the necessity for wood, they can cut down on building or replacement costs over traditional wooden windows.
- Whilst they are fire-resistant, these windows are not 100% fireproof, which is one downside that you should consider.
- Whilst they have many advantages over the traditional wooden window, they don't look as appealing, and so many homeowners will opt not to use them.
- Whilst there isn’t much to be done once these windows are installed, working on them and repairing them is not an easy job, and should be left to the professionals.
- These windows are prone to cracking or warping in extreme weather, even though they are resistant to it, so they may not be suited to harsh or quickly changing climates.
- White frames can discolour, especially in direct sunlight, leaving a light yellow or pink colour instead, which is not appealing.
- The pigmentation process is not one which leaves many colour choices, so there is a limit to colour availability.
- In extreme heat, frames have been known to rupture, meaning repairs will be needed which is not an easy task.
- Because PVC is a plastic, it would give off toxic fumes in the unfortunate event that a fire does occur.
- Whilst modern homes are well suited to PVC, traditional homes are not, as the windows tend to lack character associated with older buildings.
- They have a limited lifespan, with the average expected at around 10-15 years.
Installing your PVC window
Measure out and place your order
- Check the condition of the installation area, make sure that all of the openings and surrounding area is well maintained.
- Do a spot check for any problem areas on the brickwork, concrete or drywalling.
- Make sure you’ve taken into account and space needed for phone, internet or TV hardline cables.
- Check with a qualified window fitter or surveyor if you aren’t 100% sure.
- Measure out the surface on the head, jambs and sill of your window before you order it, and make sure to provide your hardware store with all of the right dimensions.
- Remember before you take your old window out, that you need a window 10mm smaller both vertically and horizontally than the recess into which the old window was placed.
- Clean your workspace of any debris, and make sure nothing is in your way before you start working.
Removing the old frame
- Double check your new window frame size against your old one. Make sure before you start working that these are exact.
- Take the old window out as carefully as possible to negate as much damage to the wall as can be prevented.
- Use a small chisel to remove the old glazing. This will help reduce weight and allow for the window to be handled more easily.
- Once the frame is out, do another spot check for any unforeseen damage that may have been caused.
- If you are removing glass, use safety goggles and gloves, as glass shards can be small and light enough for light wind to pick them up.
Fix your new frame in place
- Take your frame out of the packaging, ensure to get any safety packaging off of the frame and then assemble the parts.
- Use a silicone or epoxy to seal the frame joins to prevent moisture from getting into the surrounding wall in the future.
- Position your frame inside the recess, and check the position with a spirit level.
- Once you’ve checked the level, use window packers to center and align the frame completely.
- Once everything is lined up, drill your fixing holes into the jambs.
- Once you’ve drilled your pilot holes and fixing holes, affix your frame to the wall, being careful not to overtighten the frames, or you risk misshaping them.
- Do the same for the head and sill of the frame, again making sure not to overtighten the fixings.
- Use silicone or epoxy to ensure that no moisture can get past your frame, and once dry, clean your work area again.
- Clean your surface for the last time, and make sure that it is dust free.
- Check for any last areas around the recess which may allow airflow past the frame, and use a silicone to fill them.
If you need to find out where to purchase PVC windows, here is a list of professionals you can turn to.