No one buys replacement vinyl windows just because they want to. Chances are, you are in the market to upgrade yours only because the old ones don’t do the job like they used to.

So naturally, this a purchase you want to spend on once, and not again for a long time. And to truly get long-lasting windows, it’s important that several criteria are met in terms of product quality, and installation.

How long should your vinyl windows last?

The answer is manifold. But if you try to narrow it down, it depends greatly on three factors: the quality of the windows, how well they are installed, and how well your house, in general, is protected from the outside elements. If these criteria are met, you can expect your windows to last at least 20-25 years.

If installed correctly, new vinyl windows should last at least 20-25 years.
If installed correctly, new vinyl windows should last at least 20-25 years.

Quality Windows Last Longer

The first step in ensuring your replacement lasts for a couple of decades is buying windows that are of adequate quality to keep your home efficient and comfortable in your local climate. Because most of the areas in Canada have some of the harshest urban climates in the world, the windows required for homes in our country also have to be some of the best performing. This is achieved through the materials and methods that are used in the window construction. Many homeowners today opt for triple-pane windows for maximum comfort and performance. Vinyl is the preferred material of choice for the window construction because it provides adequate thermal protection for a lower cost than wood or fiberglass.It goes without saying that if a window is well built, and has all the energy efficiency features required, it will not need to be replaced for a longer period of time. That’s why when shopping for your replacement you should consider getting windows that are ENERGY STAR rated and NAFS 11 tested.

It goes without saying that if a window is well built, and has all the energy efficiency features required, it will not need to be replaced for a longer period of time. That’s why when shopping for your replacement you should consider getting windows that are ENERGY STAR rated and NAFS 11 tested. ENERGY STAR certifies and rates household products based on their performance. For windows in Canada, ENERGY STAR outlines three specific climate zones, with specific performance ratings required in order for that window to be considered efficient in that climate. Choosing the company that carries ENERGY STAR rated products is the first step in ensuring you buy windows that will last that suggested 20-25 year period.

In order to be considered efficient in your area, new windows should have performance ratings that match the requirements for your local climate zone
In order to be considered efficient in your area, new windows should have performance ratings that match the requirements for your local climate zone,

Correct Installation = Longer Life For Your Windows

Just as much as the product quality affects it, the lifespan of your windows is dependent on how the installation is performed. Although different window companies have their own practices, there is generally a right way to perform work to standard. Look for companies whose window installers are NAFS 11 tested. This can go a long way toward ensuring not only the proper installation but also recognizing and dealing with structural issues or damages around the windows.

If left uninspected or unattended to, these damages can add up and nullify any efficiency benefits of your replacement. This is especially true in older houses. While your custom windows may be of the highest quality and installed to all the specifications, leaks from other parts of the wall can accumulate on and around your windows. If this is already a problem and you’re noticing moisture spots or accumulation, you may also want to have an inspector examine the wall structure to figure out where the leaks are coming from.

If all the above criteria are adhered to, your new vinyl windows should last at least twenty years.

Window Warranties

A great way to figure out how much a company values their product and workmanship is to look at their warranty. No company will provide warranty beyond the life expectancy of the vinyl components of the windows. Ideally, you want a warranty in the 20-25 year range for vinyl window components and insulated glass units, and at least five years on the labor or issues associated with the installation itself.

Not all replacements are problem free. But picking a company that has the right product, follows proper window installation procedures, and backs both of those up with a solid warranty can go a long way toward making sure your windows last as long as possible.

How to ensure you’re buying quality windows

You now know that in order for your replacement to last as long as possible it is important that the windows themselves adhere to a certain quality standard, that the installation is done correctly, and that the company is willing to stand behind their products for a maximum amount of time. But how do you actually make sure that all these criteria are met in your window replacement?

It is fairly easy to determine the quality of a company’s window. That’s because ENERGY STAR and NAFS 11 tested make the performance information for these products public, and you can easily access it online. You can check for a company’s ENERGY STAR ratings on this Natural Resources Canada website. All NAFS 11 tested compliant companies and their window ratings can be searched on this webpage. Remember, not all window companies manufacture their own windows. You may sometimes find a company’s product listed under another name. If a company’s products are not present on the ENERGY STAR list, they are probably not worth considering for a long-term replacement.

It is not as easy to determine how well a company performs installations. While all companies will swear by their installers, reality is often different. A good way to determine if a company consistently screws up installations is by checking their online reviews. When things are done right, homeowners are likely to say very little. But when things are repeatedly not to customer satisfaction, you will notice a pattern in the company’s online reviews. Similarly homeowners often use these to complain about poor warranty service, or if they are getting the run-around from the company’s customer service desk.

Learn everything you need to know about replacement windows:
Find out how much a new window project should cost
Get answers to frequently asked questions about replacement windows
Check out our gallery for pictures and educational videos

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