Everything you need to know about vinyl window and door frames

Your guide to uPVC or vinyl window and door frames and the qualities that make it a smart choice for your home.
Vinyl Window and Door Frames

There are plenty of materials used in manufacturing window and door frames today. The large number of choices we have makes it hard to choose the best one for our homes. In this blog, we're going to focus on one of them: the vinyl window and door frames.

These are durable and low-maintenance. And, they have other features that you will find beneficial. We're going to dig deep into those benefits in this article. Are you considering vinyl or uPVC window and door frames for your home project? Here are the things that you should know:

General information on uPVC or vinyl

The acronym uPVC means un-plasticised polyvinyl chloride. This is a  tough and durable material used to make water and sewer pipes for more than a century. It is rigid and weather-resistant, which is why it's perfect for window and door framing too. It’s been used for that purpose for decades now.

Adding plasticisers to uPVC made it softer and more pliable. It became the common PVC which we use in making pipes and cable insulation. The flexible version then became the leading plastic building material in the industry.

Special properties of vinyl window and door frames

These are the features of uPVC frames that you will find beneficial. Read them and ponder on how these window and door frames can help you.

On thermal-energy performance:

Unlike metals, frames made of uPVC or vinyl do not conduct heat. There’s a limited heat transfer through the frame, which helps retain a consistent temperature inside the structure.
Also, uPVC frames are multi-chambered and have multiple point locks that seal the frame and glass together. When you use insulated glass (double or triple glazing) with these frames, you can reduce your reliance on heating and cooling. You can save up to 40% of your annual electricity bill.

On double glazing:

Window and door frames made from uPVC or vinyl are energy-efficient when used with a double glazed or a high-quality glass.

Some manufacturers even design frames specifically for insulated double glazing. These are costlier than standard aluminium or timber frames. But, these are more cost-efficient based on energy performance and price of ongoing maintenance.  

On maintenance costs:

Vinyl frames require little maintenance during their 30-40 year lifespan. It doesn’t need repainting or sealing. You clean it with soapy water or with a damp cloth. When the locks get stiff, you can loosen it with a little oil.

On ventilation:

Some uPVC window systems are operable in two directions. These kinds of windows let you take advantage of the breezes to cool your home. Use them as internal windows for natural cross ventilation.

On bushfire performance:

It’s chlorine-based, thus uPVC frames are flame-retardant. It will never ignite and will not burn once the fire is out. This is suitable for fire risk areas, especially those zoned as Bushfire Attack Level 29 and 40.

*Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 29 – High risk. There is a risk of an ember attack, burning debris and potential exposure to an increased level of radiant heat.

*Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 40 – Very high risk. All the risks of an ember attack, burning debris and an exposure to radiant heat are heightened with even a threat of direct exposure to flames.

On weather resistance:

uPVC is non-porous, therefore it’s water-resistant. The rain will only bounce and drip down. Some frames have a built-in rainwater drain system on the window sill. These units are popular among homeowners in areas experiencing heavy rainfall and long wet weather.  

Unlike timber frames, uPVC does not warp and rot over time. It’s also resistant to termites.

Unlike metal frames, uPVC is resistant to weathering, rust, and corrosion due to salt-laden air. It’s perfect for coastal properties!

On indoor condensation

Frames made of uPVC, when combined with double glazing, reduce the condensation of water on window panes. Because the frame and glass are thermal insulators, the inner window pane won’t get cold and no water vapour will condense on it.
Every homeowner should be concerned about sweating windows. Condensation on or around your windows prohibits mould growth and pests into your home, which affects your comfort and your health.

On acoustics

The tight seal that makes double glazed uPVC doors and windows thermal-proof also makes it sound-proof. You can block 60% to 70% of the outdoor noise. (Note: These are the claims of the double glazed uPVC door and window product suppliers. We’re confident that they have tested the features of their products.)

On recyclability

Vinyl or uPVC windows and doors can be recycled up to ten times without affecting its structural integrity. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find old uPVC frames here in Australia. This product is newly introduced in our market and there are very few uPVC windows and doors available for recycling.

The good news is, there are industry programs that are serious in keeping uPVCs out of the landfills. There are states that order the collection of offcuts from manufacturers for recycling. One day, the country will be able to recycle uPVCs until the end of its life.

On design:

Today, we have a variety of laminated colour options. There are plain colours, metallics, and those that have woodgrains. High-quality uPVC frames retain their colour even when exposed to extreme weather conditions. Never repaint the frames because it might void the warranty of the product.

Some manufacturers experimented and created hybrid frames. We’ve seen windows with aluminium profiles attached to a uPVC frame. These models possess the security and visual appeal of aluminium and the thermal and sound insulation of uPVC. It’s the best of both worlds.

The same model also has a larger glass area than a standard uPVC window. It gives the homeowner a larger view of the outside world.

On security:

Intruders and burglars enter through their target home’s doors and windows. Good thing most uPVC windows and doors have multiple locking systems to heighten the security of your home. Double glazed windows are hard to break too.

Where to use uPVC frames

You can use window and door frames made from uPVC in newly built and renovated structures. There is a wide range of window and door types available; including casement, sliding, bi-fold, sash, and French doors.

Comparing uPVC / vinyl window and door frames against competitor products

Right now, there are three window and door frame materials that go head to head with uPVC: aluminium, timber, and fibreglass. Here are our quick facts on them: 

  • Exceptional structural integrity
  • Secure
  • Durable
  • Customisable. Has an endless selection of colours and finishes.
  • Great for modern, industrial-style homes.
  • Reduce heat transfer when you choose aluminium frames with thermal breaks.
  • Looks elegant and classic
  • Requires strict maintenance. It will chip, warp, and rot when not taken care of. Freshen the timber with occasional sanding and sealing.
  • Energy-efficient
  • Enhances kerb appeal
  • Might add value to the home’s selling price
  • Durable
  • Energy-efficient. No significant amount of air can leak around the frame.
  • Consistent surface design
  • Low-maintenance. It won’t require repainting.
  • Accidental scratches and cuts go unnoticed.

Final thoughts

The simple window and door frame is only a tiny detail, but it has a great impact on the overall look of the house. Their condition gives a clue on the state of the house. So, invest in a high-quality product. Given the lifespan of homes, you need building materials that can stand the test of time.

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