Maintaining Commercial Vinyl’s Good Reputation

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I advocate for using the right technologies in the right applications. I’ve been pleased to witness the continued uptake of high-performance commercial vinyl profiles for use in the right commercial applications.

Vinyl has long been the dominant choice of material in the residential window and door industry for many years now and for good reason. It offers higher thermal and acoustic performance than metallic options and can deliver a lifetime of high performance. Now, as vinyl formulations have advanced over the years, commercial builders are selecting it for the same reasons.

As vinyl continues its upswing throughout North America, it is important that our industry continues to advocate truly high-performance products. And it’s why I asked my colleague Eric Thompson, commercial sales manager for Quanex and a vinyl windows veteran with many decades of experience, to share his perspective on vinyl’s uptake in the commercial space.

“I think the performance benefits speak for themselves,” said Thompson. “Customers are choosing vinyl to create high-performing, comfortable living and working spaces for building occupants.”

Thompson added a caveat: commercial vinyl’s continued success depends on its good reputation.

“I remember when vinyl was first gaining traction in the residential market; there were a lot of new players and variances in product quality,” he said. “Products that weren’t up to snuff would quickly warp or fail in some other manner, and I think vinyl’s reputation really suffered for a while.”

As the material gains more traction, there will inevitably be new products coming to the commercial space. Discerning architects and builders should know how to vet those products. Thompson said it’s important to look for testing data and certifications that validate a product will perform well in North American climates.

“If you’re sourcing your vinyl from Europe, for example, it’s not always a guarantee that such products were designed and developed to withstand the weather variety of, say, New York City,” noted Thompson. “For North American specifiers, it’s important that a commercial vinyl window has been properly tested for our climate.”

When in doubt, Thompson said to look for AAMA certification on commercial vinyl windows and profiles. Such a label proves that the product has been properly tested and has demonstrated the right performance characteristics required to deliver long-term performance in North American weather conditions.

“You might see a product claim specific, individual ratings or testing performance,” said Thompson. “But that doesn’t mean the product is fully certified. Specifiers should do their due diligence to be sure that product meets weatherability requirements for North America.”

For commercial vinyl technology to meet its full potential, I agree with Thompson that we must put our best foot forward. Whether you are specifying or fabricating vinyl windows, make sure you are selecting qualified profiles that are AAMA certified to avoid issues that can set back the progress that vinyl and all other nonmetallic choices have made in the commercial space in recent years. As always, selecting and specifying the right products for the right applications will be critical.

Joe Erb is a national account manager for Quanex.