How to Shop for New Windows?

We are thinking about replacing some windows that are simply NOT energy efficient. How does one begin to shop for windows? What questions should one ask? Any personal experiences to share? Last, any feel for dealing with the few retail shops that may dabble in this vs. a windows & siding contractor?

Thanks for the advice,

  • Jinx

Best first thing to do is ask friends and neighbors. You’ll get a good idea of pricing that way (if they’re willing to reveal what they paid) for windows and installation. Whether one goes foran independent contractor or a big chain like Home Depot At Home Services, get references from them.

Do your homework. Figure out if you want double hung or single hung windows, or perhaps sliders or casements. Each have advantages and disadvantages. Look for ease of use, especially for the type that tilt in for cleaning. You don’t that simple operation to be hard or illogical.

You can also get non opening windows (picture windows), and on any window you can get privacy glasss. Check codes and regulations for egress and safety.

For large windows, check to see what size is the limit for requiring safety glass. In fact, do a search for building codes in your area in general. Some communities require permits and inspections, some don’t, some are in between. Check it out in your area beforehand, don’t rely on anyone’s online word.

Double pane, gas filled, low-e glass is a popular selling point. Energy effeciancy and what not.

Whether vinyl, metal, or wood, you can make some substantial imrpovement to your home with quality replacements.

We shopped around a little bit. The gas in the windows thing. … We got it, but we heard that it eventually leaks out, doesn’t really work, blah, blah, blah. I guess it’s good in theory, but not realistic. We also have a deal with our contractor that they will replace ripped screens and such for free. Nice perk, I thought.

We’re in the Chicago area and went with Feldco. They installed them in no time and the price was great. We’ll definitely go back to them to get the remaining windows done.

Check your warranties. Most have replacement coverage for seal failure within a specified time.

I believe ours does, but the deal (as I understand it) is that they all leak out eventually anyway. And in a relatively short period of time. Usually after the warranty expires.

The seal shouldn’t fail, whether gas filled or not.

You can tell when a thermopane seal has failed, you will get condensation inside the window. At that point your window isn’t operating as a thermopane anymore, and the glass needs to be replaced.

Argon gas does slightly reduce heat transmission, it’s not as thermally conductive as air. But my feeling is that it’s a secondary factor; you should try to find a window with a nice clear Low-E coating (some have a tendency to tint the window a bit more.). Low-E reflects thermal radiation- so in winter, it helps reflect your body heat back in, reducing the ‘cold sink’ felling you get by windows; and it reflects infrared out during summer, helping to reduce heat gain. Many times, by the time you get glass with Low-E, argon gas will be included, but the added cost is so minimal you shouldn’t worry about it.

In any case, Low-E will be much more cost-effective than triple glazing (and you don’t want to know what replacing broken triple glazed panes costs)

Otherwise, I’d recommend to look for the highest quality windows you can reasonably afford. It’s one place where looking for the cheapest deal will come back to bite you.

I’m not a big fan of wholly vinyl windows. Vinyl doesn’t make a good structural material, although it usually works OK for smaller windows. Vinyl or aluminum clad wood is better, or wholly aluminum.

Also, vinyl and aluminum wil be limited in colors, as well as not allowing you to paint your house in more unique ways.

I’ve heard otherwise, but I don’t sell them, I just install, so I’m not gonna debate about it. But I can say this, in 10 years or so doing replacement windows for two different large companies (PaceSetter and Home Depot), I have only gone out on about a half dozen service calls for seal failure. Not a bad record, but by no means perfect.

Bottom line for that is to talk with people who have had them installed in the past, do your homework, and check out those warranty restrictions.

We replaced the windows in our last house (the old ones were original to a 1929 bungalow - complete with whistling sash pockets). I think that practically anything would have been a major improvement.

We shopped Anderson, Jeld-wen, and Pella - we ultimately chose Pella. The primary reason was that we needed a specific look for the house, and wanted the no-paint option (pre-painted metal clad, for the ones we chose).

I’m not sure if there would have been much of a difference between the double-paned windows, to be frank. All the ones we looked at had good warranties and seemed pretty durable. We only looked at metal clad ones, so can’t comment on the vinyl ones.

Oh, if you’re moderately handy, you’d be surprised how little holds in a window. While it took a bit of time, we did our own installation (and saved about two grand in the process).

Out of the ones you cite, Slip, I’d say the Pella are definitely a couple of notches above the others.

Anderson aren’t bad, but Pella are closer to Marvin for quality.

The diffeneces between the windows you looked at wouldn’t necessarily be apparent, but will show up after installation. Fewer failures, better weathering, better finishes, that kind of thing. I think the longevity of the Pella will be much better than the others.

The glazing units themselves do not differ much from window to window. There are a few places that manufacture the thermopanes themselves, and they supply many window manufacturers.

Start by calling a few companies to come out and give you a quote. Most places that sell windows offer this service free of charge. Don’t make the decision based on these numbers however as you are not comparing apples to apples. the quote will generaly incude type style and brand of windows. Based on that you will have a better idea of further questions to get answered before making a decision.

I personaly like Anderson as I’ve never had an issue with something becoming obsolete. With other manufacturers I’ve found replacing a crank or sash on a 30 year old window is not an option because they can no longer get the correct part.

I’d suggest you go with a big name - such as Anderson, Pella, or a couple others.
Window installers go in and out of business regularly. You want a manufacturer with a proven track record, and local service.
Also, as good as some no-name windows might be, they carry no cachet upon resale.

We weny vinyl .My internet research told me they were a step up. Expensive though. Company called Majic