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FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2007
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Tips on how to select vinyl window frames

Dear Jim: We are getting older and want to replace our wood windows with maintenance-free vinyl ones that are easy to clean. What style would be best for us and how can we compare the manufacturers’ quality? Jan M.

Dear Jan: If you want replacement windows that are virtually maintenance-free, then ones with vinyl frames are an excellent choice. With the new durable weatherstripping used today, the only maintenance should be cleaning the glass panes and wiping down the vinyl frame occasionally.

Vinyl frames are available in several colors, so you should be able to find one that looks good with your house color. I installed light tan vinyl windows in my own home. Lighter frame colors stay cooler than dark ones, particularly on southern windows in the hot sun.

Casement windows are generally the most energy efficient because they close with compression weatherstripping. Also they can be opened varying degrees to catch breezes for ventilation, but you will have to stretch to clean them.

Since you are concerned about easy cleaning, tilt-in double-hung windows are a good choice. Hidden latches on the top of each sash allow each one to tilt for cleaning. Consider getting special easy-clean exterior glass that stays cleaner when it rains.

If they are normal-size windows, the weight will not be an issue. Very large double-hung windows, however, can get quite heavy, especially with multipane high-efficiency glass. In this case, a window with sliders on each side and a small fixed pane in the center might be a better choice.

There are hundreds of small and large vinyl window manufacturers across the country. Just because a local company is small does not mean its windows are not high quality. Make sure to check its reputation and number of years in business. You can generally count on the large national manufacturers to stand behind their products. Their prices should be reasonable because they can afford to invest in more automated manufacturing procedures.

When comparing the quality of various manufacturers, the thickness of the vinyl material used is a good indicator. Look at a cross-section of the frame and measure the thickness of the exterior skin and interior webs. Heavier is better, but often more costly. For larger windows, metal reinforcing rods are inserted inside the frame to enhance rigidity.

The sash frame corners should be welded for strength. Welded main frame corners are not as important. Whichever efficient glass option you select, it should have insulated spacers separating the panes.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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