Correcting Consumer Confusion as Vinyl Grows Up

By Eric Thompson, Quanex Building Products
February 14, 2017
THE TALK... | Materials & Components

For more than a little while in the residential window market, consumers have been faced with a choice of wood or vinyl windows. That choice seemed to be clear cut—though generally available at a higher price point, wood windows offer consumers the look, feel and performance they desired in a premium product, while, especially in new construction applications, vinyl windows were always seen as the “bargain” option.

While perception has more or less remained this way, reality has shifted. Take some recent industry reports: The Freedonia Group recently released information showing vinyl windows and doors can expect the most rapid growth through 2020. Meanwhile, consumers are always looking to find bargains enhancing their home designs.

High-end vinyl and composite windows may first appear to meet  the compromise between luxury, performance and price, but market pricing presents a different picture. End users generally expect high-end vinyl windows to cost much less than wood products. But advanced vinyl window systems are now engineered for higher performance and quality—offering exceptional value, just not at as low of a cost as consumers expect.

Yet consumer perception holds that, because it’s not really wood, it must be cheaper—and that’s a challenge we must overcome if we’re going to continue the market growth of these high-quality, high-performance products.

Consumer expectations related to price and the proven capabilities and benefits of these products are pulling in opposite directions. The housing market is slowly regaining strength, as reported in Window & Door’s Industry Pulse Report, and we should anticipate demand for high-quality products will rise.

It will take a concerted effort for our industry to transform the lingering “cheaper than wood” stigma of high-end vinyl offerings in order to see the market growth it can and should see.

What are you doing to help change the reputation of vinyl products? Do you feel it is still an uphill battle or are homeowners becoming more aware of the benefits of vinyl? Weigh in on this week’s poll, post a comment and/or email your thoughts on the subject. 

Survey Results for 02/15/2017: Do you think vinyl still carries the stigma of a cheaper product?
Yes, and we do our best to fight it.
No, our customers are well-informed of the benefits of vinyl.
The conversation is changing.
Yes, and I've come to accept it.



Eric Thompson is a national account manager for Quanex Building Products. Email him at



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I felt like I was reading an article from 1995 not 2017. Vinyl has grown faster than wood every year for over thirty years. The cheap windows used to be aluminum, and there are still a ton of them out there that need replaced. There are cheap vinyl windows, there are cheap wood windows and surprisingly the cheap vinyl windows last longer than the cheap wood - vinyl doesn't rot.

High end vinyl windows have been around for over thirty years. Yes the technology has gotten better, the engineering and design has gotten better but high performance vinyl windows started back in the 1970's with the Thermal Gard line. Vinyl is final and it's been a better product than wood for many years.

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