In the past, colored vinyl windows were like a unicorn… magical beings that simply didn’t exist. If you were deciding to get replacement windows for you house you had two choices: white or tan. If your current windows didn’t match those two, or the paint scheme of your house contrasted, tough luck. You may have increased the energy efficiency of your home, but now your house screamed “HEY LOOK! WE HAVE UGLY REPLACEMENT WINDOWS”.
Luckily things have changed when it comes to colored vinyl windows. Technology now allows homeowners to choose from numerous exterior colors that they can have on their vinyl windows. Instead of just white or tan there are numerous shades of brown, silver, gray, taupe and creme that allow you to truly customize the look of your replacement windows.
Replacement windows are not a small investment for any homeowner so it would make sense to have the option of colored vinyl windows. Vinyl is the most popular material used for making replacement window frames because of its durability and affordable price point. By adding in the option of custom colors on the exterior, it makes the investment of windows make sense because you can now buy a window that truly fits the look of your house.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND COLORED VINYL WINDOWS
One of the major hurtles manufacturers had to overcome with colored vinyl is heat. Darker pigments added in vinyl absorb heat and can lead to softening the vinyl. This is why you never saw brown vinyl windows. The early versions of vinyl windows had to have the color pigments included in the actual PVC that went into the frames since there were no other options to get color into the frame. White and tan were the two colors that made sense and could perform.
Recently manufacturers developed painting processes that would allow them to apply a painted finish to the vinyl material that would adhere well to the vinyl and withstand long term exterior exposure. Keep in mind, vinyl is not the easiest material to paint. The process must be done correctly or the finish will not hold very well. However, the new technology allows these finishes to be applied and have the window not heat up and soften.
COSTS AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN PAINTED WINDOWS
Getting a painted finish on a vinyl replacement window will add some cost to the window. This is due to the process required to get the finish properly applied to the window. However, the added cost is worth the investment to get a custom exterior finish that doesn’t scream “Vinyl Window”.
There are many manufacturers now that are doing colored finishes, but for this discussion I will reference Milgard Windows and Doors. The Milgard product is great because they currently offer seven different finishes ranging from dark bronze to a light creme finish.
Warranty – It is important when you are choosing a replacement window with a colored vinyl finish you look at the warranty of the product. Some manufacturers will give you a lifetime warranty on the window, but 10 years only on the paint. Others may have limited warranties on the paint finish as well. I like the Milgard product because they offer their Full Lifetime Warranty on the paint finish as well as the rest of the window. This is huge when you are expecting a painted product to hold up for 25-35 years.
Check to see how the finish is applied – The application process by manufacturers varies so be sure to see a sample before you purchase the windows. Since vinyl is difficult to paint, it must be prepped, coated, and painted properly. Milgard uses a six step process and paint technology designed by Behr to insure the finish lasts.
While the cost of adding a color to a vinyl replacement window can vary, you can expect to pay between $95 and $125 per window. This will increase with the size of the window. This can amount to an additional 20% of the overall cost of the window (I didn’t say it was cheap).
It is important to remember this: Installing Replacement Windows is something you will likely do one time on your current house. The exterior look is very important for curb appeal and the additional costs are worth it for the look. The best secret about it: A colored vinyl window blends in with the house and looks a lot more expensive than what you actually did pay for it!
Check out this video below to see how we incorporated painted vinyl windows into a project where it was essential that we match other windows on the building.
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