Tom Shafer

Wood-grain laminates give vinyl windows inner beauty

December 13, 2011

Do you long to replace your old wood windows with low-maintenance vinyl, yet shudder to think how white, tan or almond vinyl frames and sashes could destroy the integrity of your interior decor? When you currently have richly stained-wood trim and accents throughout your home, vinyl simply won't do.

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But wait! Don't despair: you can have beauty and efficiency. With the intricate grain patterns of laminate, you can get the look and feel of wood on the interior side of your vinyl replacement windows.

Types of wood-grain laminates

VEKA, a major vinyl lineal extruder, makes a fiberglass laminate in a faux wood grain that can be stained like real wood. With a stain finish, the only difference you'll notice are the lack of splinters. VEKA also offers a vinyl window profile, Timberview, made with real wood applied to the sash and frame interiors. It's held in place with ridges in the vinyl.

Wood grain can also be created from a printed, thermoplastic (vinyl) laminate. It's bonded to the white window lineal using heat and pressure. Harvey Industries' Bettergrain, is a thermoplastic, wood-grain laminate made by laying down a basecoat and topping it with a simulated wood grain. It comes with a ten-year warranty and is available in three grain styles: pine (light), red cedar (medium), and dark oak (dark).

Disadvantages of wood laminate

Wood-grain laminates are a solution for homeowners who are not willing to give up the advantages of interior wood sashes and frames. However, there are a couple of drawbacks. One is that laminates made from thermoplastic and foil can scratch. The other is that vinyl windows are heat-fusion welded after lamination, which creates a corner with a raised ridge. Because the welding process burns off the laminate, it leaves the weld without color or grain texture. A solid color is usually used to cover the ridge, but can sometimes detract from the overall wood look.

If you are thinking about wood-grain laminate vinyl windows, there are bay and bow replacement windows with laminate to match the windows on the head and seat boards and the mullions. Along with a wood grain laminate on the rest of your windows and stained wood trim around the openings, this combination can give your home a rich, updated appearance and preserve the interior look of wood windows.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of vinyl replacement windows, your list of excuses just got shorter.

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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