Since I need to replace a few windows in my house, I thought I’d share my research. It’s interesting that I talked to eight different companies and only made my choice after talking to the eighth company.
First – it’s complicated. and there are a lot of factors to consider.
You have to figure out what material you want your windows made out of. You can choose:
- Wood covered with vinyl or aluminum
- Fibrex – wood and vinyl
Wood – the windows I’m replacing have rotted at the bottom, so I’m not a fan of all wood windows. They take a lot of maintenance – painting at the minimum.
Wood covered with vinyl or aluminum – this seems to be the ideal since you eliminated the maintenance factor. Pella had a lawsuit against them for water getting behind the aluminum and rotting the wood. Again – wood will rot if it gets water damaged.
Fibrex – this is an Andersen Windows product. They combine wood fibers and pvc. This results in a stronger product and theoretically shouldn’t rot.
Fiberglass – a more rigid window which won’t rot, but may need painting.
Vinyl – there seem to be lots of brands and quality types with vinyl. Consumer Reports rates vinyl windows on wind and rain resistance and gives out score from 91 to 54.
This is a biggie since poor installation can cause problems with even the most expensive window. I even have doubts about one installation I heard about from a big box store where they had complaints that the window stuck out past the vinyl. It’s the Pella 350 which is about an inch larger than their 250 model. The Pella dealer said that they installed theirs so that the window never went past the vinyl siding on the outside of the house.
As you can see by the table below, prices go from $850 to $4730 for two windows. For my whole house, the price would from $9775 to $54,395.
|Elite Exteriors – vinyl – Corvus 1000||$850|
|Home Depot – Andersen 400 wood covered vinyl|
Home Depot – Andersen 100 composite
|Home Depot – Simonton 6100 vinyl||$1772|
|Lowes 250 – vinyl|
Lowes 350 – (CR-93)
|Marvin – Elevate – fiberglass||$3170|
|Mills – Pella 350 vinyl (CR-93)|
Mills – Great Lakes Comfort Smart vinyl
|Pella 250 vinyl|
Pella 350 vinyl (CR-93)
|Window World 4000 (CR-67?)||$1148|
|Renewal by Andersen||$4730|
|Wilke Window – this is to fix two windows and replace one.||$1140|
Consumer Reports (CR) gives ratings on wind and rain resistance. They don’t give advice on how well the windows hold up over a number of years.
The two windows I am replacing have rotted on the bottom. They are 100% wood windows, but they have lasted 30 years. My other windows seem to be holding up ok. They do need regular maintenance.
Models by Manufacturer
Each windows company has a number of models which they sell. Each different model has a different price point and different features. Some are single hung versus double hung. Some tilt-in and some don’t. Some have the grill between the glass and some don’t. Some have a full screen and some have a half screen. What you have to figure out is what are the features which are most important to you and what are you willing to pay extra for.
Marvin – fiberglass – one thing I didn’t like about the sales presentation was that he did not have any models or displays to show me the different series and what the difference was between them. He didn’t even have a brochure. You have to go online to download or request brochures or go to their show room.
Pella 350 – This model is an inch thicker than the 250 and has an extra weather strip. This is also the model highest rated by CR. While Lowes has a good price on the 350, especially for veterans, they don’t have their own installers, but contract it out.
Renewal By Andersen – RBA – these are the most expensive. While I do like the RBA windows and their service, I don’t like their high price.
Window World – Model 4000 – this is the model recommended by the sales person. It has a couple of unusual things I noted. 1. You can’t open the bottom window all the way since there is a piece of trim which sticks out and stops the window. This piece of trim also showed a hole which water might enter. 2. For some reason instead of the water just following the natural path and leaving down a sloped piece, it has a small lip at the bottom to hole the water in and only has a small “weep” hole on the side which is covered up by the screen. I can see the water getting backed up and/or the weep hole being blocked. On the other hand, I have a friend who has bought a number of these windows and likes them.
Every person’s situation is different so there is not one right answer for everyone. You need to look at all the ratings, the price, the installation and all the features you want and make a decision that is right for you.
I like to use the Consumer Reports ratings as a basis for my decision. I currently have Andersen windows in my house and want to match the look and finish of these windows. The Pella 350 seem to come close to matching the look of the Andersens. The Pella 350 also has a nice inside finish than other vinyl windows and is larger. It also has the grills between the glass and has the tilt-in feature.
While almost all companies were more than happy to replace my windows, a couple suggested that my water problem was related to factors other than my windows. A couple suggested just replacing my lower sash with Andersen replacement windows. I ended up choosing Wilke Window to replace the lower sash in my two windows and also replace another window in my kitchen for a price of $1140.00.