Tom Shafer

Comparing vinyl clad replacement windows

September 22, 2011

You're sold on the idea of low-maintenance vinyl windows, but you're afraid to sacrifice the finishing options of wood. Vinyl clad wood windows could be just what you need. They offer the best of both worlds--an easy-maintenance exterior and a classic wood interior. Peachtree and Ply Gem are two replacement window brands that offer vinyl clad wood windows with similar features--and they are worthy of a thorough comparison.

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Who are Ply Gem and Peachtree?

Ply Gem has made its name in vinyl siding, vinyl fence and deck products, and metal siding and trim coil. Their window products include premium vinyl replacement windows as well as new-construction, vinyl and wood windows.

Peachtree, part of The Schield Family of window-manufacturing companies, has been an award-winning innovator in the design and manufacture of patio and entrance doors for more than 50 years.

Vinyl clad wood windows: comparing features

Sash colors. Both windows offer the standard exterior vinyl colors: almond and white. On the inside surface however, Ply Gem offers a "natural wood interior." Peachtree features a pre-finished application with four different stain options--clearly my choice in this category.

Energy-efficient glass. Both window contenders are tax-credit compliant for energy efficiency. They both have low-emissivity (low-e) glass and an argon gas filling for insulation. Peachtree, however, has two coatings of low-e and superior insulating value. Peachtree also features an "easy care" glass, advertised as self-cleaning. Ply Gem's glass package includes two tints, gray and bronze; Peachtree, only bronze. But because of its better insulating values, Peachtree has an advantage in the glass category.

Decorative grids. Also known as muntins or grilles, grids can come between the glass in a flat shape or on top of it with contours in three-quarter-inch and seven-eighths-inch thicknesses. Peachtree has wood, removable grids and simulated divided lites. A wood grille is attached to both the inside and outside of the window to mimic old-fashioned windows with individual panes. With more grill options than Ply Gem, Peachtree wins in this category, too.

Peachtree comes out ahead in every category, but one: cost. All those features add up to a 30-percent price premium. For cost-concious homeowners, Ply Gem may be a clear alternative.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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