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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Renovating with Sliding Vinyl Windows

guest post by Mark Waddell

Vinyl windows are one of the most commonly used materials for home renovation and upgrade projects. Known for their durability and minimal maintenance requirements, vinyl windows have stood the test of time as a go-to for contractors and DIY’ers alike. With various color and style options, today’s vinyl windows also have the ability to match various aesthetic and design preferences, further contributing to their popularity.


Still, when it comes to selecting a specific vinyl window upgrade, vinyl sliding windows continue to stand out as an exceptional choice. These windows are ideal for modern home

designs. Plus, they’re much simpler to use, as they operate smoothly on a track system. This

makes them effortless to open and close and seamlessly blends practicality with style for

homeowners and contractors alike.


Just keep in mind that for a renovation project to be truly successful—free of issues like air or

water leakage, and to ensure client satisfaction—the window installer must be well versed in

proper installation techniques for vinyl sliding windows. Additionally, it's important that the

homeowner has clarity on maintenance routines and considers design aspects in order to

optimize their renovation.


Installation Techniques

Vinyl sliding windows require attention to detail and careful planning to ensure a seamless

installation and long-lasting outcome. Each step plays a vital role in ensuring these windows

perform as intended.


Before beginning the installation process, contractors, installers or DIY'ers should pay close

attention to indexing the window within the wall, which refers to how far the window is set within the wall opening—projecting out to be flush with exterior siding or recessed into the interior. They need to know the thickness of the wall, the type of exterior veneer and trim and the interior trim to achieve a visually pleasing and weather-resistant application.


Installers must also prioritize ensuring the window is properly square, plumb and level,

confirming that existing and newly created openings align precisely with the window's

dimensions. Additionally, they should pay careful attention to the condition of the sill, ensuring it is level and flat before installing a vinyl sliding window. If an installer fails to meet these conditions, it may mean they will have to put in extra time and effort to make the required adjustments after installation. It could also result in future complications, so investing a little extra time initially could prevent significant issues down the line.

As far as techniques go, installers should always remember to use corrosion-resistant fasteners and fasten through the side jambs and the header. In most cases, those are the only places they can apply fasteners in an R&R application—not through the seal. But if they do apply fasteners through the seal, they should apply a copious amount of sealant where those fasteners penetrate the seal in order to prevent water from getting into the rough opening.


Maintenance Routines

Thanks to their simplified design in comparison with other window types, vinyl sliding windows demand minimal maintenance once correctly installed, rendering upkeep duties easily manageable for many homeowners.


For easy inspection and cleaning, the majority of the operating sash on a vinyl sliding window can be effortlessly removed. To do so, contractors, installers or homeowners need to slide the window halfway open, firmly grip both sides of the operating sash, lift it up and then bring the bottom of the sash outward. This method allows them to completely detach the window from the track, granting full access. They can use water to rinse and cleanse the track system, effectively flushing the weep holes commonly integrated into most vinyl sliding windows. It’s important for homeowners to do this several times a year, especially if they live in high-wind areas where debris is more likely to accumulate.

A word of caution against using lubricants on sliding windows: They tend to attract and retain dirt. Lubricants act like ball bearings until the material dries out, leading to issues with friction and the slide system deteriorating. Instead, homeowners can let the track dry naturally, and then reinstall the operating sash and apply dry furniture polish to reduce static.


When it comes to exterior cleaning products, it's best for homeowners to steer clear of those

containing caustic or acidic bases, as they can potentially harm the windows and their Low-E

coatings. Homeowners should opt instead for gentle solutions like dishwashing detergent or

glass cleaners to wipe down the frames, sash and glass surfaces. If they can keep up

consistent maintenance practices like these, their vinyl sliding windows will operate smoothly for years to come.


Design Considerations

It’s to choose window designs that will complement the homeowner’s aesthetics and their home's curb appeal, while also respecting historic design standards. So, the best options are basic colors that won't date the home's appearance. Modern vinyl sliding windows are available in various colors, such as exterior and interior black, white, or bronze. These windows also come in unique slim-frame window designs that allow ample natural light and breathtaking views while providing maximum energy efficiency. Any installer can apply grille patterns as well as heat-reflective, low-E glass to maximize energy efficiency without compromising aesthetics.


With the right techniques, routines and choices, vinyl sliding windows offer contractors and

homeowners an easy-to-install—and maintain—window solution that will stand the test of time.



Author bio:  Mark Waddell is senior product application and training manager for Cornerstone Building Brands, Aperture Solutions – U.S. With over 23 years of immersion in the building materials industry, Mark has emerged as the go-to expert behind the scenes at Cornerstone Building Brands, particularly in product installation and application techniques. To learn more about vinyl windows, visit

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