What Types of Plastic Are Used for Windows?

Home builders use three kinds of plastic extensively for windows: acrylic, polycarbonate and PVC.

Acrylic

Many homes now have plastic window glazing and frames.Many homes now have plastic window glazing and frames.
Acrylic and polycarbonate have sufficient hardness and transparency to make good substitutes for glass. PVC has taken the place of wood and metal in many window frames.

Also known as Plexiglass, acrylic is used as a substitute for glass in window panes. While more expensive and less scratch-resistant than glass, acrylic is lighter and less prone to shattering.

Polycarbonate

Sold under trade names including Makrolon and Lexan, polycarbonate windows are up to 250 times stronger than glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic. Its greater strength justifies its higher cost.

PVC

Window frames made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic resist weathering, insulate well against heat and sound and are termite-proof. Since PVC has its color built into the material, it needs no painting.

About the Author

Chicago native J.T. Barett has a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."