Frequently Asked Questions

I got 3 estimates from 3 window companies for my 3-flat. Two gave me low prices, and then came the hidden charges. Varco Windows delivered what was quoted with no extra or hidden charges. I got quality windows, installation and service at the price I expected. In the future, I'll call Varco.

– Tom, Chicago, IL

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Replacement Windows FAQs
Patio Enclosures Sunrooms FAQs
Dream®Deck Composite and Vinyl Decking FAQs
Dream®Rail Vinyl Railing FAQs

Replacement Windows FAQs

You can find everything you ever wanted to know about our Replacement Windows right here! From learning what our windows are made of, to determining the best way to clean them, you'll find all of the answers you're looking for!

What is a vinyl replacement window?
A replacement window is a window designed to fit into an existing window opening. Vinyl replacement windows are made from 100% PVC. The combined strength of the multi-chambered frames and sashes and fusion-welded corners, make vinyl windows one of the most reliable and energy efficient windows that you can purchase.

What is insulating glass?
Insulating glass consists of two pieces of glass sealed to a spacer. This creates an insulated air space between the two pieces of glass, resulting in better thermal performance. Insulated glass also reduces condensation while keeping the heat in during the winter, and heat out during the summer.

What is Low-E Glass?
Low-E (Emissivity) glass is treated with thin, virtually invisible, transparent coatings of various layers including metal oxide and silver. During the winter, Low-E glass allows the sun's natural light and short-wave heat energy to freely pass through while reflecting long-wave heat energy back inside, keeping your home warmer. In the summer, Low-E glass reflects long-wave heat energy to the outside keeping your home cooler and, reduces the penetration of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, minimizing the fading of carpet and draperies.

What is Low-E Glass with Argon Gas? How does it work?
Added inside an insulating glass unit with Low-E Glass, Argon gas is an invisible, insulating blanket that replaces most of the air during the manufacturing process. With Low-E reflecting heat away, Argon gas buffers thermal transfer to enhance the performance of the entire glass unit.

What is Krypton Gas?
Krypton Gas is an inert, odorless, colorless, tasteless, non-toxic gas that is denser than air. It is used to replace air between the glass panes in an insulating glass unit to reduce temperature transfer and deter convection (heat transfer by currents that flow from a warm surface to a colder surface).

What is an R-Value?
R-value measures the resistance a material has to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance, and the better the insulating quality.

What is a U-Value?
U-value measures the amount of heat transferred through a material. The lower the U-value, the slower the rate of heat flow and the better the insulating value.

What is Conduction?
Conduction refers to the energy transfer from one material to another by direct contact.

How should I evaluate the energy performance of a window or patio door?
Look for the National Fenestration Ratings Council (NFRC) label on the window or patio door. This label shows the U-Value, Solar Heat Gain, visible light transmittance and condensation resistance values.

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort.

ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice. If looking for new household products, look for ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR. They meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy. If looking for a new home, look for one that has earned the ENERGY STAR. If looking to make larger improvements to your home, EPA offers tools and resources to help you plan and undertake projects to reduce your energy bills and improve home comfort. For more information, please visit the ENERGY STAR website at

When should I replace my windows?

  • When your windows have air leaks and drafts.
  • When your heating and cooling bills continue to rise.
  • When your windows are difficult to open and close.
  • When your windows do not provide adequate security for your home and family.
  • When your windows allow dust and dirt into your home.
  • When your windows don't block outside noise.
  • When your windows appear foggy.
  • When your windows are difficult to clean.
  • When your windows cost you time and money in maintenance.

What is the advantage choosing a custom replacement window over windows found in home centers?
The windows found in home centers and/or major lumberyards are typically stock sizes with little or no options. Replacement windows are custom made for each opening in your home, with the ability of choosing many energy saving and aesthetically appealing options.

What makes a vinyl window better than a wood window?
Vinyl windows are maintenance free, never needing staining or painting, they won't rot or split and are not susceptible to termites or other wood destroying insects.

Do replacement windows reduce condensation inside the home?
Although technology has improved with the inception of warm edge spacer systems, replacement windows will not eliminate condensation inside your home. In some cases replacement windows are so energy efficient condensation may be more evident after the old drafty windows are removed. Condensation and its intensity are directly related to the humidity level inside your home and the cold temperature outside.

How long will vinyl replacement windows last?
Thermal Industries Inc. was the first manufacturer in the United States to make a vinyl replacement window almost 50 years ago. We are one of the few manufacturers that have been in business longer than our warranty. Thermal Industries Inc. offers a lifetime warranty on all of its window products.

If my window gets broken, how do I fix it?
All of our branch distribution centers have factory trained service employees. Our service technicians can come to your home for service or you may bring any part to our distribution center and order a new replacement.

Do replacement windows meet building codes?
All of our products our manufactured to the AAMA standard and meet the NFRC requirements for Fenestration products. National and Local Building Codes may ask for additional requirements to meet codes in your area, such as egress and/or higher DP ratings. Check with your local Building Inspection office to see what the requirements are in your local municipality.

Are replacement windows easy to operate and clean?
Yes, all of our products are easy to clean and operate. Our double hung windows have a state of the art block and tackle balance system that is tailor made for your custom window, making it one of the easiest operating windows. They easily tilt in for safer cleaning from the inside of your home. Slider windows glide along a removable track on brass wheels for ease of operation and lift out for cleaning. And our casement window has an effortless operator that opens the window to a 110 degree position that allows for easy cleaning of the outside of the window from inside the home.

What is the difference between Bay Windows and Bow Windows?
Bay Windows consist of three windows in a single frame. The center lite is always twice as wide as the sidelites. Generally, Bay Windows are a combination of fixed centers, and two operable flankers (casements or double hung windows). Bay Windows project out from the house wall 30 or 45 degrees. Bow Windows consist of 3,4, or 5 windows in a single frame. All of the windows are equal size, and are generally a combination of fixed centers and two operable flankers (casement or double hung windows.) Bow Windows project from the wall of the house 15 degrees. Bow Windows are similar to Bay windows, but the Bow Window's combination of windows has a more circular arch appearance.

What are Air Chambers?
Small honeycomb spaces within the extruded sash and frame profiles that, help to insulate and strengthen the window.

What does PVC stand for?
Poly Vinyl Chloride, a plastic compound used in the manufacture of profiles for vinyl replacement windows.

What are window sashes?
A sash is the part of the window or door that contains the glass. What does "fusion-welded" mean? Fusion-welding is the process of joining materials by melting them together with extreme heat, resulting in the materials bonding into one piece. All Thermal Industries vinyl replacement windows feature fusion-welded frames and sashes.

What is a Balance System?
A balance system is a device for holding vertically sliding sashes in any position through the use of a spring or weight to counter balance the sash.

What is DreamGlas?
DreamGlas® is a type of glass that can have design patterns cut into the glass, color added to it, or different types of caming added to give the look of a traditional stained glass window.

What are Grids or Muntins?
Grids are decorative, horizontal or vertical bars installed between the glass panes to create the appearance of the sash being divided into smaller lites of glass.

What is Tempered Safety Glass?
Tempered Safety Glass is treated with high heat for strength. If tempered safety glass is broken, it will shatter into very small pieces instead of shards.

Patio Enclosures Sunrooms FAQs

What is a DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom?
The DreamspacE® 3200 Patio Enclosure and Sunroom is a combination of vinyl windows insulated wall panels, thermally broken aluminum extrusions and an optional insulated floor system.

Are DreamspacE® Patio Enclosures and Sunrooms custom made?
Each DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom is custom made to your size and specifications, with a choice of window, wall, glass, roof, and door options. The DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom also is available in standard sizes.

How long will the installation take?
Depending on site preparation and size the average sunroom is completed in 3 to 5 days.

Can the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom be used all year long?
Yes, the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom can be used all year long when heated properly by an appropriate heat source for the size of the sunroom. A DreamspacE® 3 season room is also available.

Does the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom offer sliding or entry doors?
The DreamspacE Patio Enclosure and Sunroom offers a 5' & 6' sliding patio door as well as a 3' and 6' swing in entry door.

What style of windows are included with the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom?
The DreamspacE® 3200 Patio Enclosure and Sunroom includes its exclusive slider window made especially for the enclosure system. Other window styles are available such as double-hung, casements, awnings, picture window, bay window, trapezoid and transoms.

Can the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom be installed on an existing deck or patio?
In most cases existing decks do not meet the necessary load requirements for construction and installation of an enclosure. Concrete patios are not footed, and sloped for water drainage requiring a new pad with a footer below the frost line. Check with your local building official for your specific circumstances.

Is it necessary to acquire a building permit?
Yes, it is your best interest to apply for a building permit anytime you engage in any construction project on your home. Permits are designed to make sure that your construction project meets all of the building codes in your area. It will also aid in peace of mind knowing that your project will be inspected to make sure all of the code is being followed on your project.

How much does the DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom cost?
The cost of a DreamspacE® Patio Enclosure and Sunroom depends on the size and options. However, in most cases it is less than a conventional stick built room addition.

Dream®Deck Composite and Vinyl Decking FAQs

You can find everything you ever wanted to know about our Dream®Deck Vinyl and Composite Decking Systems right here, from learning what our decks are made of, to determining the best way to maintain them.

Why is Dream®Deck Vinyl Decking called “the Natural Replacement for Wood?”

Because compared with wood, Dream®Deck vinyl decking requires little maintenance and care. While all wood deck and dock surfaces require frequent and costly maintenance (stripping, sanding, re-nailing, refinishing, re-sealing), the only care required for Dream®Deck is regular washing. In addition, with Dream®Deck vinyl decking there are no splinters, no nails and no exposed fasteners. No rotting. No termites or other insect infestation. No hazardous chemical going into the soil. And Dream®Deck contains no lead. What could be more "natural"!

What is Dream®Deck made of?
The Dream® Deck walking surface (planks) is made of 100% PVC (polyvinylchloride), using a state of the art three-layer extrusion process. The three layers are totally weatherable. The top layer provides color uniformity and a slip-resistant surface. The second layer is recycled material for strength and environmental responsiveness. The third layer is a flexible "dual-durometer" added to the bottom of the planking to prevent the squeaking sound associated with competitive products.

Is Dream®Deck environmentally safe?
Yes. All Dream®Deck vinyl decking materials meet applicable government standards and are 100% recyclable, keeping the product out of landfills.

Is Dream®Deck slippery when wet?
The embossed pattern creates a slip-resistant surface. In fact, the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta used Dream®Deck planking as a launching ramp for its "Anything-That-Floats Race," during which the surface is partly submerged. In addition, rock salt or other chemicals for snow removal do not affect the surface.

How will extremes of weather affect Dream®Deck?
It is normal for any material to expand and contract during temperature changes. Vinyl also becomes slightly less flexible in very cold weather. However, Dream®Deck design and approved installation techniques allow for these effects of temperature change.

Will Dream®Deck burn?
PVC is classified as a “self-extinguishing” material, which means it will burn only while a direct flame is applied to it.

Will the Dream®Deck surface 'chalk'?
Normal weathering, which is defined as exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet) and extremes of weather and atmospheric conditions, will cause any colored or painted surface to fade, darken, chalk or accumulate surface dirt or stains. The severity of these conditions depends on shading, air quality, pollutants, and the geographic location of the installation.

How do I keep Dream®Deck Vinyl Decking clean?
As with any product exposed to outdoor conditions, you will need to clean it to remove dirt, airborne pollution, or accidental spills. An occasional use of a household cleaner and/or hosing should suffice. For particularly stubborn stains, a solution of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) is recommended. TSP is available at most home centers and hardware stores.

What does the Dream®Deck Warranty cover?
The warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship in manufacture, including flaking, rotting, corroding, peeling, blistering, or splitting. Full details are spelled out in the warranty document.

Is Dream®Deck more expensive than wood?
It depends on whether you measure COST or PRICE. Here's what we mean. Although the initial investment for Dream® Deck vinyl decking may be higher than for wood, the expenses of annual maintenance and replacement will soon make the total dollar value outlay for wood higher. Your Dream®Deck representative can give you an estimated "Payback Period," based on the size and configuration of your deck. Following this period, the expense of maintaining and eventually replacing a wood deck will be higher than the entire investment in Dream®Deck.

What is Dream® Composite Decking made of?
Dream®Composite Decking is manufactured from a combination of recycled and other plastic, blended with our Purified Fiber Process (PFP)® formulation of cellulose fiber and minerals. This exclusive process enables us to create a range of durable, lightweight boards for decks and other outdoor applications.

What applications can Dream® Composite Deck be used for?
Dream®Composite Deck is versatile enough for decks, porches, patios, pool and hot tub surrounds, walkway, docks, boat slips, and just about any other application you can imagine.

What tools are required to install Dream® Composite Deck?
Dream®Composite Deck profiles cut, saw, drill, router, mill, nail, and fasten easily with standard woodworking tools.

Are Dream® Composite Decking boards easy to install?
Yes. Quick and professional installation can be accomplished with the use of a coil drum ring siding/fencing nailer. Recommended nails are 8d 2 1/2” stainless steel or acceptable coated ring shank (10d 3” for Heavy-Duty Commercial boards). Recommended screws are #8 or #9 2 1/2” stainless steel or acceptable coated trim head (#9 3” for Heavy-Duty Commercial boards). Consult the Dream®Composite Deck Installation Instructions for detailed nail and screw fastening recommendations.

The Dream® Composite Decking boards have some color variation. Is this normal?
Yes. Like lumber or any natural product, Dream®Composite Deck may vary slightly in color, creating a distinctive and attractive look as found in nature.

Will Dream® Composite Decking fade over time?
Dream®Composite Deck boards are highly fade resistant and will exhibit minimal weathering over a period of years.

Why don't Dream® Composite Decking boards fade like other composites?
Most composite products are made with wood flour or chips and plastic. The Lignins found in wood products are a major contributor to fading. Dream®Composite Deck uses a Purified Fiber Process rather than wood chips as its fiber source. This process has low amounts of Lignins and consequently its Dream®Composite Deck products are more resistant to fading.

In what lengths, styles, and colors are Dream® Composite Decking boards available?
Dream®Composite Deck Traditional and Tongue & Groove boards are available in a 5/4" x 6" profile dimension. Stock lengths are 16' and 20'. Dream®Composite Deck boards can be purchased in two fade-resistant colors: Cedar and Driftwood.

Are Dream® Composite Decking boards strong and durable?
Yes. Our special blend of ingredients and engineered profiles make our product 30-50% stronger than other composite decking materials. Dream®Composite Deck boards are stronger than most of the leading composite boards on the market. Their engineered profile provides superior strength and durability.

How do I clean Dream® Composite Decking?
Dream®Composite Deck can be cleaned with any general-purpose household cleaner and/or degreaser. The use of an industrial cleaner or rubbing alcohol along with a wire brush is recommended for stubborn stains.

Does Dream® Composite Decking cost more than wood to maintain?
The initial cost of your Dream®Composite Deck might be a bit more than other surface materials but compared with wood products, it will save you tremendously in time, effort, and money during the life of your deck. Consider the following before purchasing a wood deck:

  • Dream®Composite Deck requires no annual maintenance and very little care.
  • All Dream®Composite Deck profiles are manufactured in uniform lengths and widths. This helps to decrease installation time significantly over wood materials.
  • Dream®Composite Deck is backed by a 20-year limited warranty.
  • Dream®Composite Deck does not split, decay, rot or warp and is highly resistant to termites.

Why is Dream® Composite Deck a superior alternative to pressure-treated lumber?
Unlike pressure-treated pine, Dream®Composite Deck profiles will not split, crack, warp, rot or decay. The boards contain no knots and are highly resistant to termites. They’re easy to maintain and require no painting or annual sealing so you have more time to enjoy your deck. And Dream®Composite Deck does not contain toxic materials.

What is the Dream® Composite Deck's warranty?
Dream®Composite Deck comes with a 20-year limited warranty that provides comprehensive coverage against splintering, splitting, rot or decay, and termite damage.

Is Dream® Composite Decking safe for family, friends, and the environment?
Yes. Dream®Composite Deck will not splinter so it’s kind to bare feet. It’s slip resistant, especially when wet, and meets ADA standards. Dream®Composite Deck does not contain toxic materials, hazardous chemicals or preservatives.

What joist spans should be used when installing Dream® Composite Decking boards?
Depending on the Dream®Composite Deck board profile and application, joist spans are 16” with our Traditional and Tongue & Groove boards.

Should allowances be made for expansion and contraction of Dream® Composite Decking boards?
Yes, it is important to note that all composite and plastic-based products will experience some degree of expansion and contraction with changes in temperature. Longer boards expand more than shorter boards. See the Dream®Composite Deck Installation Instructions for more detailed installation information.

How can I cover the exposed ends of Dream® Composite Decking boards?
There are several ways in which board ends can be covered. Using the “picture frame” technique, you can run a Traditional board perpendicular to the deck boards. This covers the board ends and adds beauty and balance to the deck. You can also use Dream®Composite Deck End Caps, custom trim piece, or Dream®Composite Deck Fascia Board.

What accessories are available to finish and dress up my Dream® Composite Deck?
Dream®Composite Deck provides a number of accessories that can give your deck a more finished look, such as 12’ fascia board to cover rim joist and stair stringers, finish trim to cover the tongue of our Tongue & Groove boards.

Dream®Rail Vinyl Railing FAQs

What is Dream®Rail made of?
Dream®Rail is made of 100% PVC (polyvinylchloride)

How do you clean Dream®Rail Vinyl Railing?
As with any product exposed to outdoor conditions, you will need to clean it to remove dirt, airborne pollution, or accidental spills. An occasional use of a household cleaner and or hosing should suffice.

Is Dream®Rail available in colors?
Dream®Rail is available in two attractive colors White and Earthtone.

Can Dream®Rail be installed on concrete or to a masonry wall?
Yes, Dream®Rail can be installed to a concrete deck or patio and can be attached to a masonry or brick wall.

Does Dream®Rail meet building Codes?
Yes, Dream®Rail has been tested and the results are available to the public by reading the BOCA-ES Research Report 97-55

Can Dream®Rail be used around swimming pools?
Yes, Dream®Rail meets the codes for guardrail around an in ground swimming pool using the 48" system including a self-latching gate.

Is Dream®Rail available in glass?
Yes, Dream® Glass Rail is also available utilizing 3/8" thick tempered safety glass in 6' & 8' sections and 36" and 42" heights.

Can Dream®Rail be installed on stairs?
Yes, Dream®Rail has a standard stair package available in 6', 8' and 10' sections for stairs.

Does Dream®Rail fade?
Normal weathering, which is defined as exposure to sunlight (ultraviolet) and extremes of weather and atmospheric conditions, will cause any colored or painted surface to fade, darken, chalk or accumulate surface dirt or stains. The severity of these conditions depends on shading, air quality, pollutants and the geographic location of the installation.

What does the warranty cover?
The warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship in manufacturer, including flaking, rotting, corroding, peeling, blistering or splitting.

Is Dream®Rail difficult to install?
No, Dream®Rail concealed attachment or the Dream Escutcheon system is easy to install with easy to read written instructions.

Is Dream®Rail recyclable?
Yes, All Dream®Rail and Dream®Deck vinyl materials meet applicable Government standards and are 100% recyclable, keeping the product out of landfills.