Volume 2   Issue 2               Summer 2001

v a l u e   o f   v i n y l

Trend-Setting: The Latest in Vinyl
by Amy L. Taylor

One factor anyone in-volved in the fenestration industry can count on is that it is an industry of steady change. Year in and year out, extruders and manufacturers are researching and testing new and improved ways of producing products. 

Cellular PVC 

One major trend in the vinyl market is the employment of cellular PVC. Cellular PVC uses the “free foam” process to manufacture products with low specific gravities that are free of voids in sectional detail. The end result is a vinyl profile with characteristics comparable to wood, minus the natural 
disadvantages. Cellular PVC will not rot, chip, peel, flake, warp or absorb moisture, and is maintenance-free. 

The use of this foam process dates back to when manufacturers of storm doors started using die-cut foam as an insulator, then began injecting low-density urethane foam into lineals. This experimentation has enabled manufacturers to create cellular PVC in thick walled and solid foam shapes. 

The AAMA specification for cellular PVC is now complete. Kevin Seiling, manager of research and development at VEKA, served as chairman of this task group. “This is a perfect example of how large manufacturers are reverting back to upscale products … this is a major trend in the industry today,” he said.

The two main markets cellular PVC is starting to penetrate are upscale replacement/remodel projects and the primered wood replacement window market. 

In the replacement/remodel market, cellular PVC serves best in show rooms and in-home sales. In this capacity, the consumer can look at a corner cut and see a physical difference with the thicker walls of the solid foam (free of voids) as compared to rigid PVC. 

Wood and solid foam have a similar appearance. A large majority of wood windows sold are painted a primer white; therefore, a solid foam window takes on the same appearance as a wood window painted white. A window constructed with cellular PVC on the outside combined with paintable/ stainable or plastic interior laminates will give the customer the same look and feel of a wood window, minus the high maintenance wood windows require. 

Energy Efficiency

A second trend is the increased usage of vinyl products due to energy-efficiency concerns associated with airports nationwide, particularly in the Northeast in the ENERGY STAR® program. A portion of all airline tickets sold goes toward a service charge that benefits local communities surrounding growing airports. These communities are concerned with growing noise pollution problems associated with having an airport nearby, but do not want to give up their property. What they need is sound reduction. Airports take the proceeds from these service charges and put the money towards installing insulation in the walls and attics of these homes and replacing windows with ones that reduce sound transmission. What used to be single-glazed windows are being replaced with vinyl windows using laminated glass. Vinyl window manufacturers are using a variety of different applications and installation methods to achieve a positive end result for the customer. 

Wood Veneers

Another trend worth mentioning is the increased usage of wood veneers in the vinyl window industry. There are two types of laminate available: paintable/stainable and vinyl woodgrain. Due to thin layers of fiber absorbents, the paintable/ stainable laminate simulates a traditional wood surface and can be painted or stained to any wood color. 

Vinyl wood grain laminations are a predetermined series of woodgrain laminations that resemble different types of wood. This type of lamination requires no additional finishing and there is no need to paint or stain the product. Options such as these enable the customer to differentiate his product from the limited extruded colors usually associated with vinyl windows and doors.

These trends, as well as the continued research and betterment of vinyl window and door products, are just some of the reasons vinyl’s market share has grown in the past, and will continue to grow far into the future.

Amy L. Taylor serves as communications coordinator for VEKA Inc., based in Fombell, Pa.

© Copyright 2001 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.