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tkjen

New to the window world

tkjen
14 years ago

Any advice is appreciated. I've been spending days on this website and I thank all who contribute!! I am currently in the market for new windows and came across this forum and it has helped me tremendousely, so thank you!!

Only thing is, there is so much information to consider, so many little details, I was looking for top opinions on what window I should go with. My dets are:

--Home built about 1941

--Wood sills, aluminum frames, single pane. Old, drafty, dysfunctional,etc.

--I live in NY, Long Island, so weather can be extreme, humid, freezing, windy, hot, dry and talk about the rain recently!! House if very drafty.

--I have 14 windows to replace.

--link to a pic on the Nassau County website if it works:

http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/mynassauproperty/main.jsp

If money is not an issue (and I'm not saying it's not, I just need somewhere to start), what type of window would you with. Wood clad (aluminum outside, or vinyl), vinyl all around, fiberglass, the fibrex ones from Renewal....

After your choice of material, which manufacturer?

Those I've looked at (they found me):

Alside: Ultramax series-has yet to give me a quote

Allure: Quantum2 (anyone know these guys, haven't seen them mentioned)-quoted me $10,500

Renewal by Anderson: quoted me a little over $20k

Consumer Reports' "Best Buy":

Anderson 200 Series Tilt-wash-for wood clad (what's the clad? and I think I read on this sight the sash on the 200 is wood, and on the 400 is not???)

Survivor Reliabilt 5600-for vinyl (never heard of them, anyone??)

Pella Impervia-for the fiberglass

Bottom line:

I'm looking for quality, user friendly, maintenance free, excellent warranty (Renewal claims their windows will last forever but their warranty is for 20yrs, I have a big problem with that!!), energy efficient window. And I do not want to have to replace them in 10-15 yrs. One thing about vinyl, the Renewal guy gave me an article "137 Things Window Companies Won't Tell YOu About Vinyl". You can GOOGLE this exact title and find it. Any feedback on this would be appreciated!!

I'm a clean slate right now, I still need to canvas my new neighborhood and ask around for opinions so thought I would check in with this forum first.

Any and all advice/opinions are welcome!!

Comments (29)

  • shuangshuang
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hello, We are Chinese window and door manufacturer, and our main products are wood window and door, aluminum clad wood window and door, aluminum window....also you can to see our product at
    our web: www.qdqianyiwood.com

    and if you are interested can contact with me, my email: shuangshuangps@gmail.com

  • theporchguy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    tkjen,
    Hi! I'm just across the river in NJ. I've been installing windows for thirty years to pay the bills, but my main love is porches.
    I am quite familiar with windows and would be glad to go over windows with you. You can contact me at my email.

    All the best,

    The PorchGuy

    Here is a link that might be useful: My Album

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  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    tkjen,

    A cardinal rule followed by most salespersons is to never slam the competition. Since I'm not selling you anything, I don't have a problem slamming Andersen when they don't seem to have a problem slamming others. If you didn't know, they were bought out a while back and have really went downhill since then. Not to say they don't have a decent product, but you're right--why say a window will last forever then put a 20 year warranty on it. Makes little sense. When is the last time you heard someone say they love their Andersen's? I lived in a house full of Andersen crank windows and after a few years, we had two cranks left, one for the upstairs, and one for the downstairs.

    Wood windows are a dying breed. Wood and wood-clad windows will never ever, ever, ever be maintenance-free products (all windows naturally condensate due to humidity in your home; the moisture on wood windows causes them to break down which probably explains why Andersen does not have a lifetime warranty; wood-clad is wood wrapped in vinyl or metal, which expands and contracts at different rates and will break apart over time) so not a good choice if you don't want to replace again in 10 to 15 years. I guess the two good things about wood is that it looks really nice for the first few years (until they start growing mold) and wood is a good insulator (until the wood swells and the windows don't close tightly anymore).

    Don't let the negative marketing by Andersen dissuade you from purchasing a vinyl product that includes all the latest technology available. It's kind of like all those negative campaign ads, you hate to see them, but for some reason they are all you remember when you go to vote. The truth is Andersen is an old company that is having trouble keeping up with newer technology, so their solution is to implement negative ad campaigns citing statistics that do not apply to quality vinyl products.

    There is a huge difference between a "cheap" vinyl window and a high quality vinyl. The industry standard states that so long as a vinyl product contains vinyl, you can call it vinyl--even if it's really a plasticized vinyl. Look for uPVC. The "u" stands for unplasticized (poly vinyl chloride). Recycled plastic is obviously much less expensive than 100% virgin vinyl. Cheap "vinyl" windows are typically made from more plastic than vinyl. So do yourself a huge favor and do not cheap out on your windows.

    The jury is still out on fiberglass. They are super expensive, and at the end of the day a window only needs to be so good. I've heard of fiberglass products costing $2,000 to $5,000 per opening. I'm sure you would get a great product for that kind of money, but if you can get a high quality, energy efficient, lifelong product for half the price, why spend so much?

    You should check out some of the other threads, including: "What is the best replacement window" and "Argon gas in FL?" and "Clueless about windows." I end every post for a new thread by advising posters to be careful about giving too much weight to what is said here. Most of these people have some stake in the information they are providing. "Oberon" is the most knowledgeable when it comes to window technology (I thought I knew way too much about windows but he's like the window rocket scientist for this site). That being said, if you want to have an impartial benchmark as to how much you should expect to spend for average and upscale window products, you need to rely on information provided by the National Association of Realtors. Refer to my other posts for details, but the AVERAGE vinyl replacement window runs $1,044 per opening, and $1,300 for UPSCALE. If you spend too much less than the national average, you will be disappointed with your decision 5 to 7 years down the road. If someone proposes much more than the upscale pricing, it better have all the bells and whistles, including triple pane, krypton gas, color options, grids, etc.

    This is a really good site to learn about your window project. For some reason, I also keep mentioning Trueestimate.org. I came across the site several weeks ago. It is an on-line estimating service that claims to have no ties to any company or product, and provides an impartial analysis based on individual project specs. May want to check that out. I tried it for the heck of it and it was right on point--very informative and accurate.

    If you take your time and diligently research your project, you should be fine. Just remember you get what you pay for. Good luck. I'd be happy to reply if you have additional questions.

  • oberon476
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    tblundell,

    With all due respect, and in the interest of a good discussion, I am responding to a couple of items in your post...

    Andersen still belongs to the original Andersen family. They have never been for sale and have never been bought out by anyone.

    Unplasticized (uPVC) is used for windows, vinyl siding, or other applications requiring a "stiff" product.

    PVC is "plasticized" (pPVC) when the manufacturer wants a softer, more pliable product for use as garden hoses, furniture covers, flooring, etc. No window systems use plasticized PVC products - all use unplasticized products.

    There are both virgin and recycled uPVC materials used in many applications - including windows - and many vinyl manufacturers promote virgin uPVC in their window systems.

    All PVC's are by definition "plastics", so stating that "plastic" and "vinyl" are somehow different, and having more of one or the other in a window is better, doesn't really follow - although I take it that that you were possibly referring to differences between pPVC versus uPVC. Again, windows are made using uPVC and not pPVC so the comparison isn't quite on track.

    Wood windows have been around for a very long time. I suspect that they will be around for a very long time in the future. I would have to disagree that they are a dying product. Do they require maintenance? Of course, but then so does anything made of wood - or for that matter, stone, glass, metal, and even plastic. Avoiding required maintenance in any product will eventually result in problems. That wood windows require maintenance is a given, and is certainly no reason to downgrade them.

    While Andersen is an older company, no question - over 100 years old actually - I am curious what newer technology are you referring to that they have had trouble keeping up with?

    Warranties are tricky things. Often, a 10 or 20 year warranty may have a much better value than a "lifetime" warranty. Always, it depends on the company backing the warranty.

    I checked-out Trueestimate.org on your recommendation. While I didn't have time to go thru the entire process, it appeared to me that to receive the analysis there is a fee? Is it a pay site? Anyway, as I said, I didn't have time to go thru it completely so I could easily have missed something.

  • calbay03
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi tkjen,

    I am a homeowner, not a pro.

    Even when money is no object, personal preference and architectural integration may dictate where you put the cash.

    If stained wood interior is preferred, then the best investment is aluminum clad wood interior. The aluminum allows for much lower maintenance and the wood interior can be stained any which way for added warmth. It also can be painted umpteen times as your decor changes in the future. Aluminum exterior of course cannot be repainted, so once done it is done. We have aluminum clad and they have done well.

    If decor-changing flexibility is the requirement both for exterior and interior, then wood windows is the best investment. Wood can be stained, painted and re-stained and repainted umpteen times for as long as they last. Contrary to many myths, wood windows from reputable companies do last a long time, as in a life time if properly maintained. I grew up in my parents' farm house that had 60-yr old wood windows. It has been 50 years since and some of those windows are still there, so that is 110 years now. We also changed some of them when I was a teenager so those are now close to 35+ years. They do require regular maintenance depending on exposure. On average, for their house, we checked every year and do a sand-down & repaint about every 5 to 7 years.

    If you are in an area where wild fire can be a problem, then Aluminum clad is the best solution. Add tempered glass as well and low-E for sure. Aluminum has higher melting point than wood. Tempered glass can withstand not just the heat but expansion stress around the frame. Low-E keeps heat away from interior longer. If wild fire is a problem, definitely do not use vinyl.

    Vinyl is a viable lower cost choice especially if your windows are protected from intense direct sunlight. Vinyl's thermal characteristics cannot match that of wood or fiberglass, likely not even that of Aluminum, but if shaded, that may not be a concern. If your windows are exposed to direct intense sunlight, then vinyl may still work but they probably will begin to lose some functions after 10+ years. We have 10+ years vinyl windows and they started to decrease function at about the 10 years mark. Now, the slider opens half way only, the casement warps a bit and cannot open fully as well. Of course, new technology may now make vinyl more stable. If re-painting is a requirement, you will have to research if re-painting vinyl is possible and what color will void the warranty. In our northern CA location, almost all vinyl windows come in white only due to our hot sunny weather.

    If you plan to retire in the house, then spending on what you consider the "best" now makes perfect sense. Having to spend a chunk of cash during retirement to replace windows may or may not be a good idea. Many of us think nothing of spending $30K, $40K, $50K for cars and we change them every few years. Yet most of us hesitate when spending on windows and doors for our family home. The former is recurring, the latter is one-time if done right. This is not a criticism, just providing a different perspective.

    I have no first-hand experience living with Fiberglass windows and doors, so nothing to say there. I did work with fiberglass in college for modeling boat hull. That material, when properly made, is tough and stable. It will require some maintenance to stay smooth and clean. I would guess some washing and waxing every so often. We used to wax our boat hulls once a year but that was because it went into San Francisco Bay. You will need to research manufacturer recommended maintenance details. A good marine wax will help shed grimes, junk and barnacles :-).

    HOpe this is helpful and good luck with your research.

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Oberon,

    Like I said, you seem to know a lot more about window technology than many others, me included. So I'm not going to argue the difference between plasticized and unplasticized vinyl. Though I will say my understanding is slightly different than yours. One thing is for sure, there is a huge difference between a cheap vinyl window made from recycled uPVC and a quality vinyl window. I see it on a daily basis.

    As for Andersen, I suppose it is possible that I was misinformed about them being bought out, but my information came from a pretty reliable source. Regardless, I stand by the fact that wood is an inferior product for the purposes of windows when taking into account what most homeowners want from their windows over the long haul. I have nothing against Andersen personally, but I hear lots of negative things from homeowners (which you can expect with a company as large as they are, and with so many customers). I'm not too sure about the guy posting the 137 things the vinyl industry doesn't want you to know, or whatever that list is, but if that is something that Andersen uses or promotes, I believe it is poor business practice. In the end, wood windows are great for some homeowners, and vinyl better for others.

    Vinyl window sashes and frames incorporate a vast amount of technology that is simply impossible to build with wood. I guess I'd be surprised if you didn't at least agree with that.

    Like I say, I have nothing against Andersen and don't want to promote any misinformation about them. I guess I had just finished reading that silly list before responding to this poster and it may have slanted my opinion of them at the time.

    That Trueestimate.org sight is a pay sight. I think its pretty new. I tried it and have since suggested that homeowners check it out because it is pretty well on point when it comes to over all costs. It also has a guide that would be pretty useful for people like this poster who probably know little about windows or contractors. It's not free, but I don't know of much that is nowadays.

    Wish I had more time... I'll check in later.

  • galefarm
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Aluminum clad wood windows are not inferior to vinyl windows. In my estimation they are far superior to vinyl windows, becasue they bring a warmth and look to a house when they are properly installed and finished that a vuinyl windwo can not.

    As far as condensation sitting in the wood around the frame this is not true. If the moisture is going to sit on the wood window frame it is going to get into the rough opening also and rot the framing material away jsut as it would the window, and this is not only true in clad wood windows but vinyl windows also. Moisture on a vinyl window can cause mildew and mold to form also.

    If a window is properly installed and integrated to the house wrap then ther should be no moisture problems. You have to take the mindset that not if water gets behind the window but WHEN the water gets behind the window.

    In new construction wrap the house to cover the rough openings also. then take a razor knife and make an I cut in the house wrap one slice across the bottom of the top plate one cut just abouve the sill of the R/O. You then slice the wrap vertically down the middle of the window and wrap the house wrap back around the jack studs and staple it in place.

    Now take a some bituthane or good base installation tape and create a sill guard running the tape up the jack stud about 6 inches on either side and overlapping the front of the sill by about 1". then put a second row of tape down overlapping the first and bring your sill pan most of the way to the back of the opening's sill

    at the top of the window opening cut your house wrap up at a 45 degree slice on wither side above the opening about 3 inches long and tape the flap up exposing some of the sheathing. Intall your window using some shims under the window adjusting them to make the window level. tack one corner andf then check the diaganols of the window.to ensure the window is square. Once you are sure the windwo is square nail off the nailing fins using one nail in each hole.

    Now you take your installation tape...DO NOT TAPE THE BOTTOM FIN ( this allows the window to weep out any moisture that may get behind the window) Start at the lower corner of one of the side fins and run the tape up the window overlapping the actual frame of the window slightly. Run the tape up to the top of the top nailing fin.

    Now fold the piece of house wrap down over the top fin of the window and run a piece of window installation tape over the top of the house wrap and the nailing fin underneath again overlapping the top edge of the frame slightly forming a flashing effect. Now take a small piece of tape and run it up each of the 45 degree slits in the houswrap running it down over the piece of tape that runs across the top of the window..

    this pretty much takes care of the otside aspect of the installation. Now go to the inside

    Take some low or non expanding window and door foam insulation.

    DO NOT USE FIBERGLASS OR BATTING INSULATION IN THIS VOID AS ANY MOISTURE THAT GETS INSIDE THE WINDOW WILL WICK INTO THE BATTING AND BE HELD THERE LIKE A SPONGE!!!!

    Take the straw of the foam spray can into the opening between your framing and your window until it hits the outside nailing fin, then back it off about 3/4 to 1" and spray a bead of insulation around the window on all four sides. This creates a cavity around the outside of the frame of the window if any moisture hits it it will run down the foam, and drain out the bottom fin of the window.

    Now make sure you shim all points of the window where the manufacturer recommends shimming at the very least the center point of the vertical side of the window and if a large window about halfway up to the top and bottom from this point.

    Now you window should be properly installed. WHen installing your siding or surround around the exterior of the window a thin bead of clear silicon caulk on the topr and sides fo the frame will give you another barrier to water penetration

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I'm sure the debate over which material is best for windows will go on for eternity. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is a great place to voice it. One thing I know for sure (it's fact, not opinion) is that EVERY window will condensate on the inside to some degree. It's not a matter of if, but how much. Energy efficient windows condensate much less than inefficient windows--even the greatest windows condensate. To clarify, moisture will sit on, and absorb into, a wood window sash on the inside of the window. Moisture will also sit on, but won't absorb into, vinyl. Mold will grow in wood and can be removed with much maintenance. Vinyl is imperveous to mold growth, and can simply be wiped away. Excessive condensation on windows can create major problems in the rough opening regardless whether the window is wood or vinyl, obviously.

    I don't believe vinyl is better than wood, or vice versa. Each has its pro's and con's. A quality wood window may perform just as well as a quality vinyl. But you have to expect more maintenance with wood in the long run to keep it in top shape. Most homeowners I deal with prefer a maintenance free product. Some could care less about maintenance, they just want a beautiful wood window, and are willing to replace them down the road if need be (so I don't risk offending the pro-wooders out there, I agree that if wood is properly maintained it can last a life-time--the problem is most homeowners don't actually end up maintaining them, but whatever).

    The sun will wreak havoc on low-end vinyl windows, no doubt. However, quality vinyl windows today have UV protectant additives that are guaranteed to significantly reduce fade ratio's to the point where they will not noticably discolor in an average person's lifetime. Vinyl windows account for approximately 25% of the windows that are replaced, which means that there are a lot of junky discolored vinyl windows out there that get replaced. The same as there are just as many junky rotted wood windows out there that get replaced. An educated consumer, if nothing else, should conclude from all this debate over which product or material is best that there are great wood windows, great vinyl windows, and great fiberglass windows.

    The main point is that you almost always get what you pay for (though there are certainly shady "tin men" out there who might rip you off). I once had someone tell me that vinyl was the worst thing to make windows from, and he knew it because he had to replace vinyl windows for the second time in an 6-year period. When asked, he said he had got ripped off at $2500 for 10 windows the first time, but got the same 10 windows for only $1900 the next time. This guy wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree, so I didn't bother letting him know that, in his case, ANY material was the worst thing to make windows from. At $190 to $250 an opening installed, this guy wasn't even giving himself a chance to get ripped off. You simply will not find a quality, life-time product which includes the latest technology (installed) for $250 an opening, regardless of material type.

    At the end of the day, there are many quality products out there if you are willing to pay for them. Whether a window is wood, vinyl, fiberglass, or bubblegum, a person's long-term satisfaction is more likely to be dependent on whether they treat windows as a long-term investment as opposed to a short-term expense.

  • oberon476
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Good discussion! I hope it continues.

    I am very curious where the "137 things about vinyl..." came from originally. I don't believe that it came from Andersen, but maybe a distributor someplace (Arizona perhaps?). Anyway, I would agree that as a saleman's "tool" it sends a very poor message IMO.

    Since Andersen manufactures vinyl clad windows, and since their specific composite product consists of vinyl and wood, and since they also own a vinyl window company, I wouldn't think that slamming vinyl would be considered to be in their best interests at a corporate level. Again, simply my opinion and nothing else intended.

    "...Vinyl window sashes and frames incorporate a vast amount of technology that is simply impossible to build with wood. I guess I'd be surprised if you didn't at least agree with that..."

    I would again ask what technology specifically? Certainly there are differences in the basic building materials that require different technologies to achieve results, but I am aware of no technological breakthrough's for vinyl windows versus wood windows - no "bells and whistles" - that are available for vinyl that cannot be used for wood.

    Certainly wood windows require periodic mantenance and there are some people who don't want to invest that much time into their homes. There is certainly nothing wrong with that concept and low maintenance products, including windows, make perfect sense in many cases. But keep in mind that there are no maintenance-free products. Even vinyl windows require periodic maintenance to look and perform at their best.

    I certainly would agree that a low end vinyl window doesnt come close to meeting the same sort of standards as does a top-quality product  from the materials used, to the glass used, to the hardware used  it could be like comparing a Yugo to a Ferrari (and whatever happened to Yugo BTW?)  and from a home performance standpoint there are far better ways to invest in time, trouble, and money than changing to a junk replacement window.

    The guy in the Sunday paper who promises to replace every window in a home at "$99.95" with his "super-dooper-highest-quality" vinyl window likely has neither the highest quality window nor does he have the homeownerÂs long term interest at heart. He needs to get in and to get out  and what happens in five or 10 years? ThatÂs no longer his problem - it is the homeowners.

  • calbay03
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    While the Pro's are debating :), I am trying to see it from the perspective of an inquisitive homeowner.

    As a homeowner, I hope for concrete objective information based on science. Please do not tell me it is over my head as a windows-salesman once did. The following is based on our own research (4 or 5 years ago).

    While high quality vinyl does exist, and they can indeed last a long time (our Milgard vinyl is going strong 10+ years now), one cannot ignore its inherent weakness. Vinyl's thermal characteristics are limiting the color choices to white or light colors; at least for now. We have white vinyl ranch fencing on our property and they still look just fine after 10+ years but it must be white to keep the heat off the material. The stabilizers added into vinyl today still cannot completely and reliably eliminate that thermal weakness. This is true for now, correct?

    If I don't care about maintenance, don't need to worry about architectural concerns (white or light color windows) and I have no interior design considerations, then white vinyl windows will do fine. If an application requires flexibility both on the exterior and interior, then we homeowners need to consider other materials beyond vinyl, true? Is it also true that use of darker colors on vinyl may cause problems or, depending on companies, void warranties?

    We learned that other materials worth considering are aluminum, wood and fiberglass. Aluminum, while thermally very active, is strong and stable. Wood is near inert. FIberglass is also near inert. In terms of thermal characteristics, inherent strength and even MSDS disclosure, we learned that these three generally surpass vinyl. This is indisputable, true?

    Wood used in windows are treated with chemical(s) to retard or eliminate fungal growth, right? What of bare untreated Douglas Fir framing members in the walls of our house? Especially in spaces with no insulation so condensation can form, they should rot faster than the wood in the windows and doors?

    Manufacturing defect, installation flaw, poor maintenance, plain improper application or just age itself can cause wood to mildew and probably rot but we cannot generalize that to mean it is a common failure in all wood windows, true?

    We have Aluminum clad wood interior (stained) windows in our house and our bathrooms. There is condensation after each shower and we mop off the excess and annual inspection of the casement mechanism compartment has found no overt signs of mildew. So are we just lucky and a special case amongst millions of wood windows?

    Now to my biased view :). Does all that mean vinyl windows are not usable? No. Does it mean vinyl windows will not last? No. It simply means that as a homeowner, we need to carefully consider what is the best bang for the buck. HOw and where do we use vinyl windows? What does it mean by "last"; 20 yrs, 50 yrs? Right?

    Can we claim vinyl is necessarily better than wood window in general? No! I do not see how. Does it mean vinyl has no mildew? No. Our Milgard vinyl mildews every winter. Easy to clean but mildew is mildew.

    My position is that we cannot generalize so easily. It really is dependent on a homeowner's requirements and particular application.

    Finally, as a homeowner, if money is no object, then I will look for longevity. May be vinyl's additives can somehow keep it stable but given its known limitations and if money is no object, why bother with vinyl? Why not go straight to something that is known to be stronger and is likely to last even longer? Even if it means lasting well beyond my lifetime? Money is no object, right? :)

    Cheers all!

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Im sitting here trying to think of something really clever to add, but I can't. I'm not an expert in wood windows, I just see a lot of problems with them on a regular basis. Maybe wood windows also have interlocking meeting rails to decrease infiltration between sashes, steel reinforced sashes (which I'm sure some will say increases thermal conductivity even though it doesn't), vent limiter locks for added security while ventilating, extruded lift rails, bulb seals, fusion welded corners to maximize frame and sash strength, multichamber frames that virtually eliminate thermal conductivity, flexible glass pack fins in the sashes to allow expansion and contraction of the glass without compromising the integrity of the seal or the strength of the glass, etc.

    Oberon, I get your point that different technologies are used to achieve the same results. Most of the above technologies are not incoporated in any wood window I've seen. You could argue that they are simply different technologies to achieve the same result. However, interlocking meeting rails significantly reduce air infiltration between sashes on quality double hung vinyl windows--I've never seen interlocking meeting rails on wood windows. Maybe it exists on wood windows and I've just never seen it. The same can be said for the other technologies I've mentioned. . . those are just a few off the top of my head.

    Construction of wood windows is limited to how you can shape a tree. Vinyl can be molded and shaped in just about any imaginable form. There are many unique features that are incoprated in vinyl that make vinyl windows easy to operate, energy efficient, structurally superior, aesthetically pleasing, and maintenance free (meaning no scraping or painting).

    I must state emphatically that, despite my original somewhat biased post on this thread, I do not necessarily think that vinyl windows are superior to wood. There are, once again, great wood windows. I do think, however, that a great fallacy exists among the upper echalon of homeowners that you simply can't find a vinyl window that is "as nice as" wood. If you want to pay $2500 for an average size window (3 ft by 5 ft), you can get a vinyl window with your choice of 8 different interior woodgrain finish options, 80 different exterior color finish options (from white to black), triple pane, double Low E, krypton gas, grooved double strength tempered glass, with all the technology above to make it the most energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing, maintenance free, easy to operate, lifetime window you could ever want. No offense, but this window puts Milgard to shame--not intended to mean in any way that Milgard is not a good window.

    So, if money was no object, I would invest in a window I knew I would never have to worry about again. It would certainly be a beautiful window, but it would not be wood. Heck, maybe it would be fiberglass if money were truly no object because they can cost $5,000 for the same thing I would look for in vinyl.

    It's so much fun on this site. There are those who think you need to have your head examined if you pay $1000 for a vinyl window, and in the next breath want a great window. Then there are those for whom money is no object and they couldn't imagine stooping to, oh my gosh, a vinyl window:). The truth is. . . there is a perfect window out there for everyone, and a perfect window for one person may not be perfect for the next. Thank God for the 1st Amendment and the internet.

  • galefarm
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I really do not know where people pull some of the prices for wood windows from $2500 for an average size window???? I can install some very nice wood windows for a heck of a lot less than that and comparable to high end vinyl windows. Wood is not necessarily as expensive as people think. It will also be interesting to see what happens to Vinyl as crude oil prices increase, because being a plastic product it uses petroleum in its production. Additionally in the "green" movement Vinyl is not a "green" product

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    $2500 would be for the very best VINYL window that I know of that money can buy. You certainly can spend a lot less than that for many wood or other vinyl windows, but they would not have all the features that I mentioned for that window. I would never spend that much on a window either, and there are even really good windows for much less than that. I was only responding to Calbay03 who said if money were no object, why bother with vinyl. From my experience, you can have a quality, well-built, wood or vinyl window installed for between $750 to $1100 per opening, depending on your needs.

  • skydawggy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Please share with us the manufacturer of the $2500. vinyl window. I'd also be curious at what manufacturer makes a vinyl window that you feel is worth $1100.

  • afsa
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Yes please share as I have sold windows and doors for 25 years and in complete honesty have NEVER scene a Vinyl window I would consider as asthetically pleasing nor performance wise perform as well as a wood based window(clad or unclad). TKJen if you are interested I am on Long Island and could help you with your window needs.

  • skydawggy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    afsa

    Sorry to disagree but, if you have never seen a vinyl window out perform a wood window in terms of energy efficiency, I'd suggest you spend some time over at the NFRC site.

  • afsa
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Your correct skydawggy,I spoke to quick on that. Performance wise some are superior, I was speaking more of the cheap crap single hungs used by the track home builers

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    afsa,

    I'm not surprised that you've never seen a vinyl window that looks as nice as wood--most people haven't. That was kind of my point. If you want to come to Ohio, I'd be happy to show you one. The window I'm referring to is from a Midwest window manufacturer who builds, installs, warranties, and service's their own product. My product is not available in any box store. We don't have independent distributors. They have been in business since 1957, and in 1982 started building all their own products. After 20 years of research and development, and millions of dollars invested in developing their product, the result is the window I have described above. Say what you will, and think what you will, but it is simply nicer than any window that most homeowners, builders, contractors, or window installers know about until you actually see it. I see homeowners on a regular basis who have had these windows installed for decades and they still look and perfom like new.

    skydawggy,

    There are actually many manufacturers who make vinyl windows worth $1100. I've said this in other posts: I'm not the one making this up. The National Association of Realtors compilates national average prices for all of your major home improvements. If you go to www.costvsvsalue.com, you will see the 2007 Cost V. Value Report. In the report, 2770!!!!!! members of the National Association of Realtors, in other words 2770 true EXPERTS on home improvements, say that the average home has 10 windows, averaging 3 feet by 5 feet in size, and on a national average, window installations break down as follows:

    Window Replacement-Vinyl: $10,448.00;
    Window Replacement-Wood: $11,384.00;
    Window Replacement-Vinyl Upscale: $13,479.00; and
    Window Replacement-Wood Upscale: $17,383.00.

    Therefore, the average window, per opening, is:

    Vinyl- $1,048.00;
    Wood- $1,138.00;
    Vinyl Upscale- $1,347.00; and
    Wood Upscale- $1,738.00.

    So when you ask who manufactures a window I feel is worth $1100 (installed of course), my response is many manufacturers. My company makes a premium window that, with all the bells and whistles, can can cost up to $2500 if you had EVERY possible option. Very few people, only the crazy one's, really need or want a $2500 window-it's pretty uncommon.

    As for energy efficiency, I will put my window against any wood window out there and outperform it every time, at least according to the NFRC. I think what is worth noting here is that the glass makes up 90% or more of most windows. So when people say wood has better thermal characteristics than vinyl, I say who cares. Even though a well-constructed vinyl window with a multi-chamber step-down design frame and reinforced sash outperforms solid wood any day of the week, it is so much less important than the glass pack. There would not be a discernable difference in the performance of a standard vinyl window if it shared the exact same glass pack as a wood sashed window (except that vinyl windows with interlocking meeting rails are less susceptible to infiltration). Where I believe the difference between wood and vinyl becomes important is, as previously stated, the comparative longevity and expected maintenance.

    I am also not surprised that Calbay (if I remember correctly) has never seen a vinyl window that looks as nice as wood. They are not on display in box stores, and most homeowners who invest in that type of window don't generally end up needing them replaced. Most of the companies who manufacture this type of window do not distribute them to independent contractors, and you must factory trained and certified to install them to ensure there are no warranty issues. My company offers many different woodgrain options that, when placed in any opening, often look nicer than the interior wood trim surrounding it (except they are maintenance free).

    I'm sorry, but I did not come here to pitch my company to anyone, so I don't want to name it specifically. The fact is, there are many great manufacturers of vinyl windows out there who can justify charging $1100 to install a premium vinyl window. Mine is based in the Mid-west, and to the extent anybody reading this wants to see it, if you are located in Michigan, Indiana, or Ohio, I'd be happy to send have a factory come out. However, I'm trying to remain impartial (as much as I possibly can) in this discussion and I don't want to appear as though I'm promoting my company or product. I'm simply stating the facts as I know them to be based on over 32 years experience in construction.

    Okay, blast away :-).

  • oberon476
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    There are roughly 1200 window companies in North America. Many of them are in the upper midwest, including many of the very largest ones. You are talking about a regional manufacturer from your description.

    If you don't want to promote a particular window, would you mind bringing up the details of a $2500 vinyl unit?

    Given that a large window with an involved shape, mulled sashes, etc, can easily reach $2500, I get the impression that you are talking about a fairly standard design that has the high price because of other factors besides size and shape.

    Since you brought up the glass package, what is the standard make-up / package that you use?

    Any specifics on the extrusions? Virtually every vinyl window in the country, even the cheap ones, have welded corners, multiple chambers, etc. It is nature of the beast. What makes the window that you are describing so special?

    What U-factor, SHGC, DP do you offer?

    Any impact rated units? Or other specialty products?

    Again, good discussion, but I have yet to see a follow up from the OP. A shame if he/she is missing this one.

  • skydawggy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Tblundel

    It's a little difficult to take you seriously when you refuse to disclose which manufacturers you are referring to. Tell you what, forget the $2500 window. Just disclose the manufacturer of the $1100 vinyl window and tell me what technology it uses that is so different that it makes the window worth say twice the price of a Gorell 5305 or a Simonton 9800.

    You should be proud of the company you represent and willing to shout it's name to the roof tops. Don't hide behind this "Secret Factory" nonsense. Don't you realize some of us on this site have been in the business for many years?

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    My company has traditionally been based in the midwest but over the last couple years has expanded across the nation with satellite offices. Might sound like a cop out Oberon, but I really can't provide much more detailed information in this setting than I already have. I can tell you that I have went through my price book and priced up the most expensive unit that I can for a 36" by 60" double hung. It would come with the following features:

    Woodgrain finish inside;
    Color finish option outside;
    Laser etched glass option;
    Internal Grids;
    Tempered safety glass;
    Super High Performance glass system (Triple pane/double Low-E/krypton/warm edge spacer);
    Full Screen (Teflon coated fiberglass clearview); and
    Installed w/BOE color trimpack.

    Total Price: $2215.00

    So I guess the most expensive standard size window I could design would only be $2215.00.

    That same window standard white in and out with Low-E argon glass system would be $1144.00.

    We do not have different grades of windows, though options can obviously vary. Every window is built with the same quality. They all have superior R-Values, U-factors, SHGC, etc.

    You know. . . we hold several patents on technology that do make my windows special. But, with all due respect, I don't think there is anything "so" special about it. It is simply a premium window that is designed to look, operate, and perform like the day it was installed for a very long time. There are other similar quality vinyl windows built that are similarily priced.

    It is not exactly accurate to say that "virtually every" vinyl window is welded. There's a pretty big difference between a fusion weld and a chemical weld. Most decent vinyl windows are fusion welded, but I see a ton of "cheap" windows where the welds have come apart. There are a lot of "screwed and glued" vinyl windows available that are not welded at all (I actually had to explain to a homeowner just recently that despite what he had been led to believe, a screwed corner was not superior to a welded corner). Not all vinyl window frames have multiple chamber designs either. So it's not just a nature of the beast to be fusion welded, etc. Though many of your better box store windows incorporate some of that technology, there are actually a couple other design features I mentioned that you don't see in most vinyl windows.

    I guess I've went from explaining why the technology included in a quality vinyl window is different from wood windows, to now explaining why my window's specific technology justifies it's price tag or sets it apart from other vinyl windows. So, I guess when I mentioned fusion welded corners, it was not meant to distinguish my window from other quality windows--it was in response to your interest in what technologies make vinyl better than wood. In my opinion, a fusion welded sash that can withstand 2500 pounds of pressure is a far superior technology to any wood window sash that I could pull apart with my bare hands.

    From a homeowner's perspective, I would be less concerned at this point about why a good window is so expensive,and more concerned about what I give up or lose when I buy a window that only costs $200.00 and pay some contractor a few bucks to install it. There's a reason why companies like mine aren't fighting class action law suits on a regular basis.

    Oberon, I guess I'm really interested in how much you think a quality vinyl window should cost installed?

    I agree 100% that this is great discussion for anyone and I certainly hope the OP responds at some point.

    way past my bedtime...gotta go.

  • calbay03
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi tlundell,

    My wife and I took pain to research windows for close to a year before buying because we wanted to be educated enough to cut through the thick veil of marketing and sales haze out there.

    I am not here to debate which brand is better or even which material is better because it often depends on individual requirements. I do want to point out that picky homeowners do not like sales pitch that gloss over the real critical factors. Generalization often is the first hint of a sales pitch and it is frustrating because we know then the salesperson is just trying to hoodwink us by using very broad strokes. Salesperson sells and leaves while homeowners must live with our choices.

    It is the needs and requirements of the homeowners that count, NOT the sales pitch.

    Your original claim that wood windows are, in general, inferior to vinyl is a false generalization. For your claim to stand, it needs to provide brands, specifications, test processes and test results. Without that, it becomes just personal opinion or sales pitch and picky homeowners will ignore it. As for pulling apart a well-constructed wood window by hand, especially one with aluminum cladding, surely you jest? Impact resistance is different than shear (pull apart) resistance, so which one were you discussing? I will assume it is all in good fun :-).

    Vinyl has its place but definitely cannot be claimed as generally better than wood or aluminum-clad wood without some very specific supporting scientific facts.

    Even if I have the cash, $2500 per window with conventional installation is a waste of good cash. For $2500 per opening, I would custom design my house walls so that openings are already reinforced with integrated structural support. The sash and glazing and seal and operating mechanism will then be custom-applied to each opening. The sash and all exposed material will have to be class-A fire rated with intumescent coating. The material must match the structural requirements in terms of shear and impact. I would pick custom extruded one-piece thick aluminum over vinyl any day. The glass will have three panes with integrated IIIA bullet-resistant glazing that lowers during hunting season. It will match with the kevlar liner in the wall facing Hunter's Gulch. There will be an electro-optical glazing that hazes to provide privacy at night and clears up in the day for unobstructed views. The other one will be normal tempered extra thick glass with low-E. I would add a custom designed aluminum exterior blind that lowers when there is a wild fire or in wind storm or hail storm. I would add automatic control to open and close the windows like sails base on temperature gradients and wind directions. I would add high quality screen integrated into the wall so that it can be raised, lowered to any height via a switch. I would add sensors to sense moisture intrusion, possible bug activities and even mold so that we can perform preventative maintenance. I would add a gas sensor to detect gas losses and schedule a refill :-). I would add a window spray and a wiper set-up so it can self-clean :-). All controls can be done from a centralized device or a handheld remote. It also has to be real wood inside, not thin veneer, because we are wood lovers and can spot poorly made wood product easily. The interior will have well designed concealed opening so we can easily open up to inspect, maintain, repair the unit. How's that for $2500 per opening? Cost is no object, right? :-)

    As you can see, even when money is no object, homeowner choices and concerns can be unique. Why would I spend my $2500 per opening on just vinyl? Especially when it is still the simple same old tiring conventional installation that continues to make a window opening a potential structural weakness in quake country?

  • skydawggy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Tblundel,

    Thanks for the information. I think I understand what type of operation you work for. Do you use the Model Home close with the marketing price drop justification good for today only?

    Calbay,

    heh, heh..good post.

  • oberon476
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Calbay,

    You are frightening me! You won't need a wiper for self cleaning however. A titanium dioxide coating will suffice for that.

    tblundell,

    You are correct that there are still screwed-corner vinyl usints out there. I admit I simply discounted them from this discussion as irrelevant. I will amend to say that virtually all vinyl windows of better quality are fusion welded.

    And I will also agree that the really bottom end products might lack chambers when compared to better products. Again, I admit that those products simply never entered my mind...

    I will avoid the question of cost for a good vinyl window. It simply isn't an area that I deal with. I work at the "other end" of the equation in testing, certification, product development, quality - pricing? That is for marketing folks to determine!

    However, I will agree that there ain't no free lunch and the $99 special is going to be really "special" the first time bad weather hits it.

  • tblundell
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Simply amazing.

    Yep, you guys are right. Especially you Calbay, I mean you researched windows for a whole year, you're definitely an expert. I've been polite up to this point, but if you want to mock me for simply having conversation and expressing my opinion (oh my gosh, oh no, someone has a different opinion than me, I better spend the next hour on a website where I have absolutely no accountability formulating a mildly humorous and rude response) then let me tell you how I really feel. I mean are you kidding me? Did I try to sell you something? What if I did? Oh my God, that would be the worst thing to ever happen, you could actually end up buying something. And, what if you ended up actually buying a really good product, or a really good idea? And what if the idea or product actually turned out to be great? But what if it cost more than you thought it should or would? Putz.

    Where are all your test specifications and results? Did you perform all of those tests in your secret lab? I mean, you claim to be just a homeowner. Where did you get all your information that is so much better than mine? I've based ALL my information on credible industry experts. From which sources did you form your own 100%, absolutely correct, no one can have a different opinion, OPINIONS that you now stand behind so arrogantly.

    Tell me this Mr. I'm just a howeowner who researched for a whole year: IF 2770!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS say it costs $1044 per opening for a midrange vinyl window, why are you so so upset that mine costs a whole $100 more????????????????

    Do 2770 experts all have it wrong too?

    And why in God's name do you keep saying money is no object and then continue to cry about that fact that good vinyl windows are expensive?

    Yep, you are brilliant, after all, earthquakes jump right out of the stinkin' ground and impact windows (I've actually seen earthquakes before that throw rocks at windows), so why bother having a fusion-welded window sash that can withstand 2500 pounds of pressure when you can have a really good wood one that, yes, a person can pull apart with their bare hands, at least if they're really, really, super strong like me. When your house is shaking violently from an earthquake, you could put one of your bullet proof windows in front of your other bullet proof windows to keep all the projectiles from impacting your sashes. That way when the windows fall apart, atleast they won't be all dented and stuff.

    Are you nuts? You claim that I am generalizing my information even though I am the only one, with the exception of Oberon, who is actually giving very specific information!

    "Generalization is often the first hint of a sales pitch." What on earth are you talking about? Is there something wrong with somebody selling something? You claim to have actually bought windows, which means that somebody actually SOLD YOU WINDOWS dummy. I ask again, what am I trying to sell you? The fact that good vinyl windows are worth more than you think they are? So what if I was selling you that idea and I was wrong, do you think you're helping anyone reading this? Wood windows are a lot more expensive, in general, than vinyl. Yeah, even the expensive vinyl's are less than wood covered in vinyl.

    So what's your point? What are you so mad about?

    It doesn't seem like you would really want anyone to buy vinyl windows. What are YOU hiding? What stake do you have in this conversation? Do you sell crappy wood windows? Did you spend too little on crappy vinyl windows that fell apart? Or are you just a "concerned" homeowner who, after a whole year straight of research, has nothing better to do than butt in on an otherwise productive debate?

    If you're upset because I mistakenly used your name in a previous post, then I apologize and you should get over it. I can hardly believe you accuse me of generalizing and trying to "sell" something when I can not find one useful post from you on this entire site. You obviously think I'm a sales person, and you're dead wrong. But what if I was, is that really a good reason to get personal. Whatever dude, you're silly. You should put a patent on your super duper window and then sell it for free.

    Hey Skydawggy,

    heh, heh. Way to go buddy. You and Calbay make a perfect couple. Yeah, but before I do the model home drop, I bump the price. It's called a bump and drop. Heck man, there's no other way I could make a window worth $1100. Yep, we just make it all up. The things are only worth about $50 and we mark them up 2,200 percent. We are the most profitable company in the universe. I grossed $150K last year, how bout you?

    You guys are silly.

    So. . . anyway. . . if there's anyone else reading this who wants to jump in this otherwise useful debate and personally attack me for voicing my opinion (which IS backed by fact), after you get done chuckling to yourself in your pathetic heh, heh's, why don't you at least throw in something that might be useful for the OP.

  • OhioWindoze
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    cant we all just get along??? just kidding...great discussion...I am standing by just to see who fires the next shot....you all are great!

  • OhioWindoze
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    btw....Tblunder, cant we simply rely on NFRC and AAMA to help in eliminating these types of debates? It would be so much easier....but hey this does make for great entertainment!

  • calbay03
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Calm, calm, no one is mad. I had a bunch of smileys in my post, didn't you see? It was meant to be lighthearted. Forums are not "personal", it is where people share info and someone will always disagree.

    The Pro's here long ago know I am no pro :-). I am a software engineer and R&D is my profession. The only reason I bother posting here once in a rare while is because of really bad experience in the past in dealing with local windows shops. So I try to help while my info is still current.

    This discussion is really to answer tkjen's original question about what to do if "money was no object". It was sidetracked by our question regarding why vinyl is better than wood. I will gladly leave the floor to you now :-).

    Peace, peace.

  • skydawggy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Tblunder
    One last item regarding your unweilding belief in the Remodeling Mag Cost vs Value Report. J.D. Power rates Andersen and Pella as the top 2 window manufacturers which I'm pretty sure you disagree with.

    Why, in your opinion, is information in Remodeling Mag more valid than J.D. Power ratings? After all, this is J.D. Power and they surveyed thousands of Remodeling Company experts all across the U.S. You aren't going to say thounsands of Remodeling experts are wrong are you?