Of all the window materials available on the market, vinyl is the hottest. Vinyl was typically considered a material for the renovation and remodeling market, but that is no longer the case.

"The vinyl window market continues to grow, especially in the new-construction market, where new-housing starts have been at an all-time high," says Maria Macdonagh-Forde, marketing manager for the windows group at Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed Corp. "I believe we will continue to see the demand for vinyl cut into the wood and aluminum market. In many markets, vinyl has become the norm."

The Cleveland-based industrial research firm The Freedonia Group predicts that worldwide demand for windows and doors will reach $147 billion in 2007. A large part of that growth will be a demand for vinyl and other plastic products, which will outpace increases for other product types.

Vinyl windows are very affordable and this accounts for their popularity in part, but industry experts say product advancements and improved performance are the other reasons that home builders are using them more and more.

Add ons

Steve Kahle, sales manager at Timeline Vinyl Windows, in Merrill, Wis., says the industry is separated into two camps. "High-speed, low-cost, lesser-quality manufacturers are raising productivity and lowering prices," he says. "Custom-, feature-, and benefit-oriented, high-quality manufacturers are adding additional features that make their products more and more expensive." Some of these features include applied jamb extensions, standard reinforcements, and single divided-lite options, along with cellular PVC and wood accessories.

Kahle says Timeline is introducing a new casement product and making simulated divided lites standard on all of its vinyl windows. "[We are] also working on several products that bridge the gap between wood windows and vinyl windows using the strengths of both products," Kahle says.

Macdonagh-Forde says CertainTeed has also made advances in its products. The company's most popular window for new construction is the NewCastle XT. The windows are designed to suit certain installations in different parts of the country. For example, brick and stucco are the norm in California so the company designs products to fit those installation applications. In addition, CertainTeed recently introduced Prism Grid windows, which offer home buyers the look of custom beveled glass at an affordable price, the manufacturer says. The trim allows light to filter through with a rainbow of colors. It produces the appearance of beveled light and achieves it without weakening the overall structure of the window.

Future tense

Parkersburg, W. Va.-based Simonton Windows says that today's products offer better energy efficiency than before along with more safety features. Depending on the manufacturer, vinyl windows can also be used in coastal applications where the building codes for impact resistance are especially stringent. Simonton has introduced a product line, StormBreaker Plus, that features impact-resistant glass, and the company is slated to expand the line this year.

But what does the future hold for vinyl? The next advancement the industry can expect to see is the growth of gas- and water-assisted injection technology, Simonton says. This technology yields a one-piece window that is incredibly strong. The company recently introduced such a window, and because of the overwhelming response to the line, it is planning to offer other styles in the near future.

Courtesy CertainTeed

Color prism: Because of Accentrim film technology by 3M, the Prism Grid window offers home buyers the look of custom beveled glass at an affordable price, the manufacturer says. The trim filters light with a rainbow of colors that has the appearance of beveled light and does it without weakening the structure of the window. The window features a fusion-welded frame and comes in several styles. CertainTeed. 800-233-8990. www.certainteed.com.

Courtesy Timeline

Cold casement: The Architectural Casement Windows line is designed for the new-construction market. The windows feature coated hardware, stainless steel tamper-proof hinges, and a multipoint locking system. A variety of glazing options are available, including tinted, specialty laminated for coastal applications, and single pane. Heavy-duty extruded aluminum frames are optional. Timeline Vinyl Windows & Doors. 715-536-2461. www.lincolnwindows.com.

Courtesy Jeld-Wen

Lock down: The Summit collection of vinyl windows features WEN-Lock for enhanced safety and style. The unit has an ergonomic design that allows the window to lock and unlock with almost no effort. It also incorporates automatic locking with manual override for easier use. The automatic lock passed all forced entry tests, says the manufacturer. The windows have a wider profile and full-perimeter weather stripping. Jeld-Wen. 800-877-9482. www.jeld-wen.com.

Courtesy Simonton Windows

Pro league: ProFinish Master Series windows have a minimum R-50 performance rating for the ultimate in structural integrity, the company says. They feature the firm's Intercept spacer system and are constructed with 3/4-inch insulated glass for increased efficiency. Made with fusion-welded extruded vinyl, the windows come in a variety of styles. Simonton Windows. 800-746-0686. www.simonton.com.

Courtesy Republic Windows

Vinyl answer: Republic's Builder Series single-hung window has a nailing fin that offers add-on components such as a drip cap and a J-channel. The window offers several glass options that focus on safety and low maintenance. One, Tempered T.U.F. glass is 400 percent stronger than annealed glass. Another, Simple glass has a smooth surface that causes dirt and water to sheet so the window stays cleaner, the manufacturer says. Republic Windows. 312-932-8000. www.republicwindows.com.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog.