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Ask The Times : Vinyl Windows Tops in Sound Control

February 05, 1989

Question: What do you think of vinyl windows, as opposed to wood and aluminum? Please go over the pros and cons, especially in the areas of durability, maintenance and cost. Are there grades of vinyl, or are they all the same? Do all window dealers carry vinyl?

Answer: This is a big subject and there's only enough room here to touch on some salient points., Allen L. Lowith (Lowith Metal Window Co., 10905 Peach Grove Ave., North Hollywood 91601), said that vinyl-frame sound-control windows are now available on the West Coast market, comparable in cost to quality aluminum-frame windows.

Despite his company name, Lowith installs vinyl windows for customers who want them. Because vinyl windows accept the thicker sound-control glass and because vinyl is superior to aluminum in resistance to sound transmission, vinyl windows are increasingly popular in retrofits in noisy areas. Lowith said that aluminum windows are still the most durable.

Wood windows are available from manufacturers such as Pozzi, Marvin, Andersen and Pella in finished wood, primed wood, bare wood and vinyl clad. We're talking serious money for wood windows, but the look is distinctive and should be considered for certain architectural styles. Mill-finish aluminum windows are not recommended in a room addition of a house that has double-hung wood windows. However, you should consider vinyl windows--either hollow-core or solid--that match the existing wood windows.

If you want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of various window materials, read Chapter 5 of "The Low-Maintenance House" by Gene Logsdon (Rodale Press Books, Emmaus, Pa. 18049). Logsdon describes the various materials, their heat-loss indexes and the aesthetics of various materials. This is a highly readable book, by the way.

The Times will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. We cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.

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