Updating this replacement windows thread

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ctviggen

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Updating this replacement windows thread
« on: 3 Sep 2017, 03:54 pm »
Hi All,

We're about to start replacing our windows, maybe at 5-6 at a time.  The following thread has some good info, but seems to be a bit out of date:  http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=92124.0

For instance, are triple pane windows still really designed for only two panes?  Are triple-paned windows any better now? Also, this really didn't get into the types of materials, such as vinyl versus wood versus composite versus fiberglass.  Supposedly, the latter is the best as it expands and contracts similarly to glass. 

Has anyone replaced their windows recently?

We're using a carpenter who did a great job on our deck and was a whole-house builder until recently.  We're replacing our windows as the trim for some of them is terrible (rotten) and letting water into the house.  Additionally, the windows were low end and the company is out of business.  They don't operate well, and I can't get replacement weatherstripping. 

Buying windows to me is like buying a mattress -- It's very difficult to compare products, and there are a myriad of options.  Our carpenter recommended Andersen or Pella, as examples.  But if you go to the Andersen website, there are a ton of options and multiple levels, and nothing has even an estimate of pricing.  For instance, if you look at the following chart from Andersen, there are dollar signs to indicate pricing, but there's no MSRP, for the same window. What does $$$$$ mean versus $$$?

https://www.andersenwindows.com/products/product-comparison-charts/comparison-chart-hung/

There are some interesting comparisons, such as the following:

https://www.thespruce.com/double-hung-windows-compared-4066227

But even this doesn't really reach a conclusion and has little comparison pricing, particularly within the same manufacturer.  I'd like to measure a window, figure out what options I want, and then compare both within the manufacturer's line and also between manufacturer lines.  That doesn't seem to be able to be done, at least online.

We will be replacing at least 3 large windows; most are double hung, but we have at least three sets of casement windows.  We will be replacing the entire window and interior and exterior trim.  A house in Connecticut with primarily south-facing or north-facing windows.  The south-facing windows add a ton of heating in the winter (good) but also in the summer (bad). 

Peter J

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #1 on: 3 Sep 2017, 05:23 pm »
FYI, I didn't read the links provided.

I'd let the age and general air-tightness of the structure guide me to some extent. Probably doesn't make sense to use a high-end European triple glazed $$ window assembly in a 70s era, typically leaky, home.

That said, some points to consider:

I like Andersen in general. They seem to engineer well, and back their products up. I was able to get casement crank mechanisms for mid-60s windows. Their many levels of products likely have more to do with marketing and being competitive. I think their business model likes to include some consultation, which the price leaders don't care about. I have an axe to grind with Pella, so I'll digress.

Installation technique is really important. If the failing trim on your windows is allowing water into your home, something wasn't done well, flashed right, etc. Where are you seeing damage?

Fiberglass or aluminum with thermal break probably represent the state of the art. Vinyl is the vast majority of what's produced and installed today. Wood has virtues, but needs more protection, especially on south facing windows.

Low-E coatings on your south facing windows I'd consider a must.

WGH

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #2 on: 3 Sep 2017, 09:07 pm »
I replaced all my windows with Marvin Integrity 4-1/2 years ago, they were perfect for my budget. The Ultrex extruded fiberglass frame is perfect for the desert Southwest (vinyl and wood take a beating with the extreme sun) and I could get custom internal divided lites and argon filled LoĒ³-366® glass.


The argon filled LoĒ³-366® glass option is amazing. I live in Tucson, AZ and have a West facing picture window, with regular glass the heat gain can be off the charts. The heat gain with the LoĒ³-366® glass for all practicable purposes is zero, I can put my hand in front of the window in late afternoon and barely feel any heat. LoĒ³-366 adds a third layer of silver coating. Result: a clear coating that blocks even more solar gain, reflects heat, and lets the light stream in. LoĒ³-366 actually outperforms the tinted glass often used in warm climates.
Here is a very good page that explains it all: http://www.cardinalcorp.com/products/coated-glass/loe-366/

General contractors get a discount, when I priced windows on my own the price was the same as what the contractor was charging me. So I let the contractor supply the windows, he then gets the markup/profit + installation labor = happy contractor. If I supplied the windows then he only gets installation labor = sad grumpy contractor.

Any window from the big boys: Anderson, Pella, Milgard, Marvin will be excellent. The glass choice and installation will determine if you are happy in the long run.
You are going to have to get a lot of bids.
« Last Edit: 2 Oct 2017, 12:25 am by WGH »

ctviggen

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #3 on: 1 Oct 2017, 07:31 pm »
Thank you for the comments...I've been doing a ton of research on windows.  We've mainly looked at Andersen and Marvin, but each has a confusing array of products.  Marvin, for instance, has Marvin, Integrity, and Infinity.  To make it more confusing, Integrity makes an all-fiberglass window, and Infinity only has all fiberglass (with Integrity, you can get wood clad on the interior).  To make it even more confusing, Marvin+Integrity appear to be separate from Infinity.  Where I live, dealers either have Marvin+Integrity OR Infinity, but not both.  You can't see all three in a showroom, you have to drive across towns.  Furthermore, most reviews seem to like Infinity better, as the sashes are thicker and there are some other nicer features than Integrity, but the "Lifetime" warranty for Infinity is NOT transferable.  That means it's really not "lifetime", and then the warranties for both Integrity and Infinity are exactly the same. 

Also, we're using one dealer that can sell us Marvin's Marvin and Integrity lines, but because of Marvin's rules, he can't show them in the showroom.  So, that means we have to drive to a completely different showroom to see them. If we want to see Andersen, Marvin+Integrity, and Infinity, we have to drive to THREE different showrooms.  Even taking pictures doesn't help much.

Also, we need a complete rip out, all trim will be removed.  Then you get into rolled aluminum (cheaper) or Azek, but Azek is more expensive through one dealer/installer, even though rolled aluminum is way more time consuming.  I realize Azek is an expensive product, but it shouldn't cost 4x as much, installed.

Then, add in that we're also looking at doors and are comparing prices from big companies with individual contractors, and it's a freaking nightmare.  Not to mention that no one can determine which manufacturer or product line is better -- the all have good and bad reviews. 

We're leaning toward all fiberglass, such as the Integrity or Infinity, as this makes the most sense to me.  Fiberglass expands and contracts at the same rate as glass, so it should have fewer problems over time. 

However, the sticker shock of those products might force us to go to Andersen 400 or A series.  We have quotes of 49,000 (yes, that's 49 thousand dollars) for Infinity windows and two sliders, but NO front door or in-law door, which will likely add another 10,000 (yes the total is 60,000).  For Andersen 400 (yet another confusion, there are two of these, the woodwright and tilt-wash), for the tilt-wash for the same windows/sliders but two additional doors (ThermaTru+ casings), the price is 47,000.  However, I don't like the tilt-wash windows (the woodwright is nicer), and the two sliders are 400 series, and I like the A-series sliders better.  The company for the 49k quote sells Provia doors, which I've read are better than ThermaTru, but again, the sticker shock might doom them.

As of now, we're still looking at pricing and trying to decide what to get.  It's going to take us another weekend at least, and we're doing to have to drive to three locations to see all the windows.

TomS

Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #4 on: 1 Oct 2017, 09:27 pm »
I just installed Marvin Integrity All-Ultrex Casements in a building we own and they are exceptionally nice windows. We also put Marvin Ultimate Double Hungs and Ultimate Casements when we built our home 17 years ago, and I think I may prefer the Ultrex.

Also, you might look into Boral trim (fly ash), much less expensive than Azek, easier to work with and paint, and impervious to moisture and rot. Our builder dropped an unprimed piece into a bucket of water at our house for a couple months just to prove it to me. They've completely converted over from PVC now.

JLM

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #5 on: 2 Oct 2017, 12:35 pm »
Anderson are vinyl clad wood windows that excel at looking good.  Very average hardware, very big marketing budget. 

The "real" Pella windows (with the 13/16" air gap) are excellent.  Heavy construction, good seals, and the option of putting blinds/shades inside is great.  Had a neighbor kids hit a golf ball through one, just moved the inner pane of another unit over to provide a temporary fix. 

Not many Marvin dealers around here (Michigan) but from all accounts they seem good.

But do consider window types.  Hinged units (casement/awning) seal better than sliding/double hung, but it depends on the style of the house.  Fixed are cheaper and the best energy performing (if you can reach them from the outside to clean). 

macrojack

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #6 on: 2 Oct 2017, 01:52 pm »
I have 8 windows, a patio door and a front entry replacement on order. Milgard fiberglass, triple pane, argon charged units for patio door and windows and a solid (no glass) Therma-Tru fiberglass front entry door will hopefully further reduce my indoor temperature adjustment costs for the next 2 decades. Combined cost for all of the above comes in around $7200 incl. tax, with an additional $2300 estimated for install costs.

I intended to follow WGH into Marvin world but found that they aren't represented in my immediate area. Hoping Milgard's best are just as good. I have a similar climate to Tucson in terms of weather patterns but my high temps, both summer and winter will be 10-15 degrees cooler.


thunderbrick

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #7 on: 2 Oct 2017, 07:45 pm »
I used to be in the building materials sales.  The window companies I talked to generally discouraged the triple-pane windows as having higher maintenance/repair costs for little extra efficiency.   Of course, Tom, I don't live in the desert.   ;)
« Last Edit: 17 Oct 2017, 12:58 am by thunderbrick »

Bizarroterl

Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #8 on: 2 Oct 2017, 10:11 pm »
We did a remodel and used the Milgard fiberglass windows (all casement).  2 bow windows, one very large LR window, and one glass door.  IIRC, it was about $8K for all.   We also have some aluminum clad Pella windows (also casement).  Comparing the 2, the Milgard are far superior.  The mechanisms work flawlessly and they seal much better.  In a workshop we have Anderson (vinyl clad wood) which seem ok (awning type, rarely cranked) but were really expensive (IIRC) vs what we got from Milgard for the remodel.  We also have one Pella fiberglass (like) slider in a bathroom which works fine.

As said by others, a bad install will make any windows function poorly.

rpf

Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #9 on: 3 Oct 2017, 04:44 pm »
I've used Andersen 400 vinyl clad wood windows in a few buildings in NY. Mostly casements which, as noted above, seal better (and I think look better) than double hung. Obviously some building styles, like a Dutch Colonial we have, require double hung.

They've held up fine over 2-10 years and seem well designed. The best thing about Andersens are the easy availability (pretty much anywhere) for the units themselves and for replacement parts. I checked for the Milgard mentioned above and there are no dealers within 200 miles of NYC. As noted repeatedly above, but cannot be stressed enough, proper installation is crucial to long trouble free life.

I've heard many positive things from carpenters about the Andersen Fibrex composite (Series 100): strength, durability, and cost in particular, and would have used them in two of the buildings except that the wood insides of the 400s matched better with the interior of the buildings.

Fiberglass is best, of course, but expensive. In something like sliding windows or doors, however, the extra cost would seem to be worthwhile (whether A series Andersen or competitors).

Edit: There are "Azek" generics available that are much less expensive and work well.

Nice tip on the Boral trim: will have to look into it.

Mikeinsacramento

Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #10 on: 3 Oct 2017, 05:03 pm »
I told my Wife we needed to have our windows replaced.  She asked me how much that was going to cost and I told her about 20K.

She said, "You're going to be dead in 20 years, why do you care?"

Made sense to me.

ctviggen

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #11 on: 16 Oct 2017, 08:59 pm »
Just to update everyone, I looked at Andersen A, 400 (both types, woodwright and tilt wash), Marvin Wood Ultrex, All Ultrex, and Infinity. I liked the woodwright and wood ultrex, and the Infinity.  The Infinity was the most expensive. 

Which of these did we choose? None of them.  Instead, we chose Okna windows:

http://www.oknawindows.com/windows/double-hung/index.stml

My wife and I drove from the Marvin Wood Ultrex dealer to the Okna dealer, and both of us thought the Okna windows were better, thought with not as nice of an interior.

The air infiltration on the Marvins (and Andersen) is abysmal.  Terrible.  The air infiltration on the Oknas are much better.  Think 0.3 versus 0.02.  Everywhere the Marvins and Andersen use a single seal, the Onkas use dual seals.  See here:  http://www.oknawindows.com/core/fileparse.php/106748/urlt/800_dh_update.pdf  (Note: the actual numbers for Marvin/Andersen aren't 0.3, but aren't much better than this.)

They also have better glass, with better spacers.

These are the windows we went with, in white everything:

http://www.oknawindows.com/windows/double-hung/2012096-enviro-star.stml

The only thing we were unsure about is that the outside of the Okna windows protrudes more and isn't as flat, and the corners of the windows are a little cheesy.  We can live with that, considering the improved performance of the windows.  We honestly never look at the interior or exterior of our windows, so for us the Okna's looks weren't a drawback.

I'd say if you want real wood (or wood looking) on the inside of the window, then look elsewhere.  If you want a very high performing window, and can handle the looks of the Okna, and there's a dealer in your area (they are made in PA), then consider them.

We're also going with Okna sliders (again, the air infiltration rates are way, way better), and with Provia doors (versus Therma-Tru). 

We had to replace our windows, as the exterior trim is rotten on some of them.  You can stick your finger in the trim, that's how bad it is.  Also, now that we've seen how tight the Oknas are, we're going to replace all our windows (when we can afford to do so), as I was sitting near a window where the trim isn't bad and the window was locked shut, and the air leakage was impressively bad. Our current windows suck. 

ctviggen

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #12 on: 16 Oct 2017, 09:08 pm »
Oh yeah, we went with double pane.  You can get triple pane, but I'd rather take the money for that and put it into insulation in the attic.

Just one more feature of Okna windows that make them better: they use two sets of hardware to lock the windows instead of one.  From an engineer's perspective (meaning mine), the Oknas are simply engineered better (for the features I care about) than are the Marvin or Andersen.  I'm more of a function over form guy, though; if you like form over function, the Okna might not be for you.

Peter J

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Re: Updating this replacement windows thread
« Reply #13 on: 16 Oct 2017, 09:43 pm »

We had to replace our windows, as the exterior trim is rotten on some of them.  You can stick your finger in the trim, that's how bad it is.  Also, now that we've seen how tight the Oknas are, we're going to replace all our windows (when we can afford to do so), as I was sitting near a window where the trim isn't bad and the window was locked shut, and the air leakage was impressively bad. Our current windows suck.

Two things I'll point out here, so you can be aware. If you're talking about trim surrounding the window, that is not part of the window but rather the installation. If it's rotten there's something else going on (flashing, water management). Photo might help if you're inclined to dive a little deeper, I'm happy to advise.

 Also the draft you felt next to old window may well be the window, but also could be part of the installation. It is/was common to stuff fiberglass insulation in the gap between rough frame and window itself. It does almost nothing to stop air movement (drafts). Hopefully your new windows will be foamed in place with low expansion foam designed for the task. It will tighten up the whole installation.

You wouldn't be out of line to ask for details on how your installer intends to address these two critical details. A nice window installed marginally just doesn't make sense to me, but it's frequently done.