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Vinyl Window FAQ

Questions about vinyl windows? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about window energy efficiency ratings.

What is a “Nail-on Window”?

A nail-on window utilizes a nailing fin (trim that runs around the perimeter of the window) to attach the window to the framing of the home. The new window is situated into the rough opening and nailed into place through the fin.


What is a Renovation Window or a Rebate Flange?

A renovation window typically uses a “flange” vs a “fin” to bridge the gap between the home and the new window that is typically inserted overtop of the old aluminum window. An adhesive caulking is added to the backside of this flange in order to create an air and water tight seal.


What do I need to know about Energy Ratings for Windows?

There are a great deal of technical terms and terminology used when assessing and describing Energy Ratings. The following is an overview and description of the more common terms and methods of assessing and judging energy efficiency.


What is NAFS (North American Fenestration System)?

North American Fenestration System (NAFS)  In layman’s terms NAFS is the standard and performance grading system used with windows and doors. NAFS not only takes the actual window or door into consideration but is also specific to the geographical area. In other words, the NAFS standards for windows in Courtenay, BC is different than that of Powell River, BC.

A more thorough description follows. As these standards are specific to your geographical area, please contact Modern for further clarification.Modern’s windows are NAFS certified for all of Vancouver Island, Powell River,  the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland.

Effective January 1, 2014 for buildings constructed under Part 9 of the 2012 BC Building Code, any windows, doors and skylights must be selected and installed in accordance with NAFS (North American Fenestration Standard) as well as A440S1-09 Canadian Supplement to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, NAFS North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights.

As per subsection, of BCBC 2012, the performance grade of a window, door, or skylight must meet or exceed the minimum performance grade for the geographical area as determined utilizing the Canadian Supplement. It is required that the designer, architect, contractor, or homeowner indicate on the permit drawings the selected performance grade, as well as the water penetration resistance test pressure for the window, door, or skylight.

To ensure compliance, installed windows, doors, and skylights must have a temporary label and permanent label from the manufacturer, affixed to the product to confirm the standard. Canadian labeling requirements are identified in the Canadian Supplement section 6.4 which require a permanent label. Please see below for a sample labeling from a certification agency.


Are Modern’s Vinyl Windows NAFS certified?

Modern’s windows are NAFS certified for all of Vancouver Island, Powell River, the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland. Please contact Modern for specific ratings and details, as these are specific to windows and opening styles.


What is Argon? How does Argon improve windows?
Argon: Argon is a gas that is heavier than air and assists with the slowing down of heat transfer. Its placed between the layers of glass. Argon helps lower U-Value.


What is LowE? How does LowE improve windows?
LowE : Low-emittance (lowE) coatings are virtually invisible, metal or metallic oxide layers added to glass assist with lowering the U-Value. In general terms LowE keeps your home cooler in summer and warmer in the winter.  Modern currently uses Solarban 60 (Soft Coat) and Sungate 500 (Hard Coat - Northern Series) as its two options for LowE.


What is the difference between Soft Coat LowE and Hard Coat Low E? Is Soft Coat better then Hard Coat Low E?

LowE - Soft Coat vs. Hard Coat: There are many types of Soft and Hard Coat options on the market – each with its own unique ratings and pros and cons. Soft Coat lets less heat in but less heat out (typical in the West) as it acts as a thermal mirror reflecting heat back into the home. Conversely, in the summer Soft Coat allows for less heat to enter the home then Hard Coat, therefore keeping it cooler.

Hard Coat let’s more heat in but also let’s more heat out. Typical in Manitoba and Alberta, Northern Ontario Hard Coat looks to maximize solar heat gain. In the summer, homes with Hard Coat may require additional air conditioning as it will let more heat in.

As a general theory, HVAC units or heat pumps are typically used in combination with Soft Coat as Soft Coat keeps the overall temperature of the home/commercial building more balanced and stabilized compared to the HVAC unit having to compensate for larger hot/cold swings if Hard Coat was used. A good approach is to apply Hard Coat to windows on the sun-facing side of the home and Soft Coat on the shady sides of the home. This maximizes heat coming into the home and slows down its escape.


Will new windows reduce Ultra Violet (UV) coming into my house? 

Windows with Soft Coat Low E (79% reduction) provide a greater reduction in UV than Hard Coat Low E (51% reduction).



What type of spacers does Modern Windows use?

Modern Windows are made with Super Spacer Technology. We call it TrueWarm because Super Spacer is the world’s only 100% polymer foam. Super Spacer's NO-Metal formula blocks the heat escape path and provides one of the best thermal performances in the industry. That means it keeps the heat in during the winter months and keeps the cool in during the summer months. Super Spacer assures comfortable winter humidity levels with hardly any worries about condensation and mold.



Energy Ratings - Rating System Terms & Definitions

What does Zone rating refer to with window energy efficiency ratings?

Zone Rating – A, B, C or D: Canada has been divided into four climate zones based on annual average temperature. Zone A is the mildest, and Zone D is the coldest. Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast are within Canada’s mildest zone and requires a Zone A Rated window only. However, Modern does offer Zone A,B and C rated windows.



What does Physical Testing Properties refer to with window energy efficiency ratings?

Physical Testing Properties – A, B & C: All windows and sliding glass doors must be rated for their air tightness, water tightness, wind load strength, resistance to forced entry, insect screen strength (windows only) and ease of operation (sliding glass doors only) when they are installed in new homes or other buildings. Provincial and local building codes require different air tightness, water tightness and wind load strength categories depending on the climatic conditions; the higher the better. Air:  A1-A7, Water: B1-B7, Wind: C1-C5.



What does SHGC refer to with window energy efficiency ratings?

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): The SHGC indicates the amount of solar gain through a pane of glass. It ranges from 0 to 100. SHGC is specific to how well the window allows for heat to travel into the home (outside-in). The higher the number, the better the solar gain.



What does U-Value refer to with window energy efficiency ratings?

U-Value: A U-value indicates the rate of heat transfer. The lower the U-value number, the slower the transfer of heat from a warm area to a cold area (inside-out). The lower the number the better.

An R-Value is the inverse of a U-value and indicates the resistance to heat transfer. The higher the R-Value number, the more insulative the product is. R & U Values will come in imperial or imperial units. Neither the U- or R-value account for heat energy from the sun (solar gain).



What does ER (Energy Rating) refer to with window energy efficiency ratings?

Energy Rating (ER): The Energy Rating (ER) value is calculated using a formula that balances a product's U-value with its potential solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and its air tightness. The higher the number, the more energy efficient the product. The ER scale was recently modified so that all products now have a rating of between 0 and about 50. The higher the ER number, the better the product's thermal performance.



What is the difference between U­Value vs. ER?

Our Soft Coat windows have a better U­Value and  a lower ER then our Hard Coat (Northern Series) windows as Soft Coat is better at keeping heat in the home but lets less heat in the home than Hard Coat. Conversely, our Hard Coat windows have a higher ER as they are better at letting more heat in the home but a weaker U­Value as they let more heat out than Soft Coat. Require more information or need to have a point clarified on energy ratings? Give us a call or drop us an e­mail and we’d be happy to walk you through it and answer your questions along the way.



What are the Energy Ratings of Modern’s Vinyl Windows?

Modern’s windows are NAFS certified for all of Vancouver Island, Powell River,  the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland. Please contact Modern for specific ratings and details or refer to the Window Option pages of the website for additional details.

Energy Ratings of windows are determined by multiple variables that include the windows overall size, if it is an opening or non opening window, the way it opens and the material that the window is made out of. 


Are suntubes really effective?

Short answer, yes. Suntubes are a very effective way of providing natural light. The reflective lining of the tube itself amplifies light into a room and its amazing that a small diameter can provide so much light.


What is your Window Warranty?

Modern offers a 20 year warranty on the window frame, 10 years on glass and 2 years on parts and labour. Click here for more details.


Vinyl Casement Windows versus Vinyl Slider Windows, which is better?

Just like anything else there are pros and cons. In summary, vinyl casement windows are more energy efficient and garnish higher energy ratings because of their closing and sealing method. The use of gaskets in combination with hinges and clasps, allows for a tighter seal. However, because there is more engineering involved, and more moving parts in a casement window, they do tend to cost slightly more than a vinyl sliding window.
Vinyl Sliding windows (Horizontal or Vertical Sliding Windows) are a very cost effective window and very popular here on Vancouver Island, Powell River, and the Sunshine Coast due to our temperate climate. In addition, the opening of the window takes up no space and they make cleaning extremely easy. Consider vinyl sliders for those windows that face your deck as they avoid frames protruding into your deck area that people may bump into.


Besides Energy Ratings, what makes for a good window?

Ratings are just one way to assist with determining “good” windows from “bad”. Here’s a list of other things to look out for:

1. Seeing an actual window or corner sample: Corner samples will show the inner structure of the window including the number of chambers, thickness of the vinyl, and cross section the infrastructure. Many thinner profiled windows offer a sleeker profile however lack strength, durability and insulating properties as they are not as robust as they should be. Modern’s Exterior Experts always have corner samples for you to inspect and will always walk you through some of the key features of our windows.

2. Parts: The mechanical parts and aspects of a window are some of the first places corners are cut. Plastic wheels on slider windows are a prime example of this. It’s not long before plastic wheels become more square than round resulting in windows sticking and not gliding as they should. Modern use dual brass rollers in all of of its windows to ensure smooth gliding action and rust free operation.

3. Glass: There is a great deal to know about the glass or glazing options in windows. Different combinations of glass and the coatings that can be applied to them will change the Energy Ratings of a Window. Modern manufactures its own sealed units (double panes of glass with foam spacer that is inserted into the frame) and use a desiccant filled foam spacer that reduces condensation and insulates.

4. Frame: Not all vinyl window frames (extrusions)  are created equal. As discussed above, there are many lighter weight, thinner profiled frames on the market that were most likely built for southern climates. Modern combines high quality virgin vinyl with up to 15% recycled vinyl in its window frames. All frames are fully welded using a 4 point welder that simultaneously welds all 4 corners together. Besides adding strength and water tightness to the window, it also ensures the window is perfectly square, making installation easier. Triple Fin weather stripping adds extra insulation and air tightness t o all Modern’s Windows.

5. Installation: All the engineering and quality manufacturing in the world will not help your home become more energy efficient if a window is not installed properly. Modern employs our own installers or uses reputable experienced contractors to ensure that your windows are properly installed. Modern made, Modern installed, and with a Modern warranty. If there is an issue with a window there’s only one number to call.


Ask About our Aluminum and Vinyl Window Installation Services

Modern provides window renovation and window installation services anywhere on Vancouver Island including Port Hardy, Campbell River, Courtenay/Comox, Parksville, Port Alberni, Tofino, Nanaimo, Duncan and Victoria. We also service Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Powell River, BC.

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