Vinyl windows, fiberglass doors on the rise

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Check list: Michael Favel, of Evergreen Door & Window, in Evergreen Park, looks over Simonton vinyl windows to be sure they are ready for winter. | Photo by Mary Compton

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In the window and door world, wood just isn’t what it used to be.

The long-term residential construction staple has largely been replaced by new innovations pairing more functional benefits with more favorable costs.

At Evergreen Door & Window, a 50-year-old business located in southwest suburban Evergreen Park, sales manager Kevin Sullivan reports that vinyl has overtaken wood in the majority of replacement window projects.

Many buyers favor vinyl because it doesn’t sweat, insulates well and maintains its durability. Easy to maintain and highly energy efficient, vinyl windows also come in a variety of colors to complement a home’s aesthetics.

Above all, buyers prefer vinyl’s more palatable costs, Sullivan said. At $400-500 per installed window, vinyl windows run about half the cost of a wood window.

According to Sullivan, about 60 percent of Evergreen’s replacement window sales are vinyl, a somewhat surprising number given the cost difference between vinyl and wood and vinyl’s beneficial characteristics. Wood, Sullivan added, has retained some market share because some homeowners, particularly those living in older residences, prefer the look of wood, which better complements an older home’s character, as well as wood’s artistic qualities.

“Wood windows can be a piece of furniture on the wall,” Sullivan said, an appealing reality that compels homeowners to overlook wood windows’ potential challenges, such as rotting or termites.

When vinyl windows first entered the U.S. construction landscape in the 1960s, Sullivan said, “They tripped over the starting gate.” It wasn’t until the 1990s, he said, that vinyl windows got back into the good graces of architects and remodelers.

Top three choices

Today, however, vinyl replacement windows stand tall as the preferred option for many homebuyers. As many as 1,500 companies across the country manufacture vinyl windows, Evergreen Door & Window manager Betty Carter said. Her suburban company, however, has zeroed in on three companies with a reputation for durable, high-quality products and sterling service: Sunrise Windows, Simonton Windows and Great Lakes Windows.

“The products we carry from these three manufacturers are always one step ahead of the game,” she said.

For instance, these manufacturers responded to more stringent government standards by developing window glass solutions well beyond regulatory specs. The latest glass technology, Sullivan said, is estimated to save about one-third of a home’s energy costs when compared to a similar home with outdated windows.

“That’s a real dramatic difference,” Sullivan said.

To that point, Evergreen’s southwest suburban showroom has a variety of heat lamps directed at various replacement window samples. The exhibit provides prospective buyers a first-hand perspective and a way to compare one window option to the next.

“This really highlights the high-quality products we have available to our customers,” said Carter, whose company specializes in a wide-range of exterior remodeling products, including doors, windows, siding, gutters and garage doors.

A dominant door

While wood retains relevancy, albeit fading, in the replacement window market, the door marketplace shares a different tale. Sullivan estimated that fiberglass doors represent about 98 percent of Evergreen’s total door sales, a prevailing position fiberglass has earned for its wood-like look and functional benefits.

“Fiberglass doors have the impact resistance and look of wood, positive insulation qualities, the ability to arrive in any color and they don’t swell and contract like a wood door does when the temperature swings,” Sullivan said.

Cost has also propelled fiberglass’ domination. Whereas a fiberglass door with installation might hover around $1,500-2,000, an oak door with installation might start near $3,500 and can travel north of $10,000. Like wood doors, fiberglass doors can be outfitted with designer glass and various hardware selections to enhance the look.

“There simply aren’t many people choosing wood doors these days because of the size and the costs,” Carter said.

More information about Evergreen Door & Window is at (708) 423-1720 or at www.evergreenwindow.com.