Windows - who did you go with?

chris11895April 5, 2011

Hi all, as we're working through our plans the subject of window companies has been one we have yet to tackle. Our builder likes Andersen, our architect likes Pella. My sister loves Marvin and our current house, an antique, has Green Mountain which I adore, but they're very pricey and with our amount of windows I don't think it's in the budget. Anyhow, I thought I'd ask everyone here who they went with and why, and also see if anyone has regrets in their decision?

Thanks in advance!


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Researched windows for months--until I had made myself crazy. Started out Pella(alum clad), then Jeld-Wen (alum clad), investigated M&W (vinyl & alum clad), Sun (alum clad), Andersen (alum clad), & Windsor (alum clad). Ended up convinced Marvin or Marvin Integrity are the way to go. Here's what I found:

-Pella's aluminum clad windows are roll form aluminum which can dent easily & some question on the durability of the finish. Roll form is applied directly to the wood frame of the window--the wood is basically wrapped in the aluminum cladding. Should water infiltrate the frame of the unit, the design leaves no space for water to escape or drain away from the wood which is why Pella promotes how their wood is specially treated. Plenty of good reviews, plenty of bad reviews. Price was sky high.

-Jeld-Wen Traditions are roll form aluminum so denting is an issue. SiteLine EX series are extruded aluminum clad wood which takes care of the denting, but the cladding is applied using same technique as roll form so no channel for water to escape should water infiltrate. JW also promotes how their wood is specially treated for just this reason. Plenty of good reviews, plenty of bad reviews.

-M&W just not that impressed, recently merged with Ply-Gem so not reassured on how business will progress in future as far as quality & warranty. Vinyl clad line has wood frame wrapped in vinyl with no space between so potential water issue and no mention of wood being treated to help protect against rot. Did like the look of their aluminum clad line though. Plenty of good reviews, plenty of bad reviews.

-Sun-Couldn't find enough reviews and information, but liked the look.

-Andersen-Seemed like practically everyone we talked to prior to researching the windows said stay away from Andersen. When asked why, the response was virtually identical each time--product not durable. Andersen stands behind their warranty but do you really want to have to be dealing with Andersen for the next 20 years on fixing warranty issues. We did price the Andersen 400s and the price was sky high. No personal experience with the product, but their windows sure did look nice. Plenty of good reviews, plenty of bad reviews.

-Windsor-liked them, but not enough distributors in our area and the one we were dealing with seemed to always leave significant quantities of windows or the more expensive windows (arches, etc) off our quote. We're guessing they did this to make the bottom line look more attractive. So no faith in the supplier.

-Marvin-beautiful windows. Ultimates are extruded aluminum clad with the space left between the wood and the cladding for water to escape. Reviews were primarily positive with only a few negatives (and they tended to be on older windows). Customer service and warranty reviews were excellent as well. Ultimately, the Ultimates are out of our price range. However, the Marvin Integrity windows did fall in our price range & they are also very nice windows in my opinion. They are a fiberglass window 8 times stronger than vinyl with no fading or chalking of the finish. They are available as wood clad with channels for water to escape or as an all fiberglass unit. Good U-Values & SHGC Values. Plus you have Marvin backing up the warranty should anything happen. So that's where we're at--Marvin Integrity is the window for us.

Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: Marvin Integrity Site

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:26PM
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When you are talking about Marvin and Andersen, you can't go wrong but they can be expensive. If you love wood windows, check out kolbe. If you like aluminum check out Skyline windows. I've worked with them on previous projects and they are very helpful.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:28AM
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Mydreamhome seems to have a good summary of what I found.

We only looked at aluminum clad windows. My better half is in the aluminum business, selling mostly to glass and glazing contractors, so that was a natural choice for us. That also gave me an in house expert to evaluate the claims of roll forming vs. extruded. Added to that my builder has a long standing relationship with Pella.

I was leaning toward Jeld-Wen when I did a "speed dating" version of window shopping, going with quotes in hand from the Jeld-Wen showroom straight to the Pella showroom. That was an eye opener for me. I realized that the Jeld-Wen window that was actually higher in price was a mid-range version and the Pella was the top of the line and so much better looking. So we ended up going with the Pella Architect window.

We found them willing to negotiate on the price. My understanding is that because they sell directly to the builder and not through a distributor, they have more wiggle room on their prices. So far, the customer service has been good. We had one 8 foot door come in warped and they came right out and replaced it.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 7:34AM
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We are trying to figure this out too. Our builder has gotten the Kolbe and Kolbe quote down to the Jeldwen Siteline EX one. Going to do some speed dating too I think :). My builder says that Kolbe is a much nicer window.

Marvin gets the best reviews but we had a quote from them for 130k and the Siteline was 75k. We have lots of french doors and 6 specialty doors which jacks the price up, unfortunately.

If the colors work for you, the Integrity is supposedly a great window also and you can mix with Ultimate (they are designed to do that) if you need a custom size or want to do Ultimate on the front and Integrity everywhere else. We need a cream colored window so that ruled them out for us.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 7:44AM
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French doors are ridiculously expensive, if you ask marvin or Andersen forget it it's easy to go over your budget... didn't think a door could cost a few thousand huh? Surprise~ I think the most expensive door I've seen is $90,000. It was custom with a lot of French curves. Just be careful of doors and windows, it's easy to go over board and over think it. Kolbe have really nice stuff. Just make sure the price you are getting are correct and that the contractors aren't making an extra buck off of them. Don't be afraid to call these companies up and ask. Ask for names and work with a steady sales person. I recommend this with Kolbe, Marvin, Andersen and all the other window/door company. With design, changes will be made and budgets will be stretched. Creating good relationship with your vendors now will help you in the long run. Things can get complicated during construction so keep things tight and don't over think and be too stressed out~~

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:28AM
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Interesting topic. We're pretty sure we're going Anderson 400 series and have been quoted $23,000 direct from the lumber yard for our windows. These are mostly tilt-wash (TW3046), although we have some specialty glass for the prow and a few other windows, but nothing crazy. Wasn't planning on upgrading to nicer hardware or grills. Also like the Andersen A-series since they offer them in black trim, which to us looks real nice. Of course they are 15% more than the 400's.
I'll have to look into some of the others mentioned, but my research (limited) suggested that the marvin ultimates had isues.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:38PM
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Epiarch Designs

all are good windows, with, IMO Marvin Premium as some of the best looking and working ones out there. But yes, many times they are out of reach.
Andreson 400s are also nice, as well as Pella Prolines and Designers. However Pella Impervia are the ones we will most likely go with because they are full fiberglass. In our climate, that is ideal. Plus you do not have the alumn clad and wood rotting issues from any of the makers. Pure fiberglass inside and out, and then foam filled cores. They have the same hardware as the Designer line as well. They are priced well below Anderson 400s and the Prolines. They are very comparable in price to the Marvin All Ultrex windows, but I think they will be lower then the wood Ultex, which are not pure fiberglass. However they do give you a nice option of a wood finished interior, with the added durability of a fiberglass exterior.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 2:41PM
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WOW! Thanks for all of the info and research! How much are french doors these days? 5K?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 3:33PM
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I looked at Marvin Integrity and Milgard Ultra (also comes in wood-clad), both are basically fiberglass windows, which I knew I wanted. Ultimately, my quote for many windows, 2 sliders, 3 sets of french doors ended up at about $23,000 for the Milgard Ultra, and $29,000 for the Marvin Integrity ones. That's not apples to apples, but I believe that getting the wood clad Milgard ones would have still been about $3000 less, and I figured that the savings could go elsewhere.

It definitely pays to shop around! My windows ultimately came from a shop which specializes in Auto glass, but has been doing Milgard windows for many many years, does a large volume with them, and gave me a much better quote than the window shop that most of my friends went to. Also, the glass shop was located in the East Bay, while the window dealer is on the SF Bay peninsula. The service has been great, even through a sizing snafu with my sliders and french doors (see my other post previously), and both Milgard and the Auto glass shop stepped up and did replace them!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 6:16PM
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Our builder in NC is using Atrium windows. Does anyone have any insights on them? Alternative was Anderson's Silverline.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 7:34PM
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Chris--6' French door unit prices quoted early last year: $1715 - $3500 aluminum clad, ~$1500 vinyl clad, ~$2200 fiberglass clad. Keep in mind, everyone has had price increases since then & pricing varies (sometimes greatly)from supplier to supplier. You can also opt for extras/upgrades (i.e. primed interiors, handleset finish, handleset style, multipoint locking mechanism, etc) which will run the price up in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:03PM
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We went with Windsor. Loved the Kolbe and Marvin but couldn't justify the price difference.

(all extruded aluminum clad)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 10:13PM
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mydreamhome - Are you looking at the R-5 windows from Atrium?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 11:02PM
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Are you happy with the Windsor? I am headed to Atlanta to look at the Kolbe but they also have Windsor on the floor. I need to check the colors and whether cream is available . . . What has been your experience?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 10:16AM
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We looked at Hurd H3 windows which are a new design and look very interesting indeed. They are wood on the inside (finished, primed, or unfinished) with extruded aluminum exterior (available in lots of colors) - these sandwich an interior of vinyl for superior thermal insulation. No vinyl shows when the window is closed. We were told they are considered mid-priced windows but this was from a salesman whose market is million dollar homes near Lake Norman, NC and carries Kolbe for that market.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hurd H3 brochure

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:42PM
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So far we have had no issues with the windsor, but it's only been a year or so. Our sales rep was a total idiot though. He had to redo our order no less than 6 time before he got the dimensions/details correct. The Marvin/Kolbe sales reps were terrific.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:47PM
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The H3 does look interesting. I have always been concerned with the wood under the cladding rotting. They seem to have a vinyl layer there which may prevent that. . . Their brochure calls them mid-priced as well. They also offer lots of clad color options . . .

We won't be opening our windows, except perhaps the casement over the kitchen window . . .

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 1:07PM
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dekeoboe-haven't looked at the Atrium--saw the all vinyl atrium on the the sales floor of building supply store, but that's about it. We looked at the M&W vinyl clad line and we had M&W all vinyl windows in our last house.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 2:46PM
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We used Windsor as well --- Athens, part of our reasoning for Windsor over Pella Architect was that the cream color matched the paint sample I had in mind for trim. I asked both Pella and Windsor for samples and that was nice to have to take around with me. So far we are liking the Windsor, but the house isn't done yet, so not much real life experience!

Here is a pic of the ivory color....Ignore the mess, hope you can see the windows!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 5:51PM
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Thanks for the info on Windsor! The color is huge for us as we will have a limestone portico and so the cream must be the right cream shade . . . Glad to know you are happy with them at least at first glance. I assume both of you got the Pinnacle Clad?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 6:25PM
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mydreamhome, sorry, I confused you with AddictdTravelers, who wrote about the Atrium windows. We are building a very energy efficient home and are looking for R-5 or higher windows.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 6:45PM
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Yes, Pinnacle clad for us. The Ivory color I think looks nice with the stone and mortar. For us, the ivory color on Pella was a bit too yellow (can't remember what the names are). It is hard to tell here because the siding and trim are not painted yet.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 8:23PM
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yup, we did pinnacle clad casement. We wanted black so the color was less of an issue.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 9:31AM
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THanks to both of you! Such pretty houses :)

There are several creams on the Kolbe, but they are weird . . . the keyring he gave me is missing the Natural Cotton color so I am crossing my fingers that it is right. Other than that, I was really impressed with the Kolbe windows - great looking, solid and seemed to be well made. We cut some more money from the quote by making the interiors of the library french doors pine instead of mahogany (we are probably doing a waxed heart pine paneled library or perhaps a limed paneled one), eliminating the screens in the original quote and putting white hardware on the windows. All will be for naught if the cream colors are ugly though!!!!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 10:37PM
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Whatever you go with, double and triple check measurements, and the order after it is written up. It seems that no matter where you go, the person writing up the order is ususally incompetent and will write it up wrong or omit something. So check, check, and check again. Follow up a week after you order, cause sometimes they just plain forget to send it in. Make sure you keep your copy of the order and I'd even make a copy of the copy, just to be safe.
Voice of experience.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 5:02AM
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We went through the exhausting researching of windows ourselves. We were not impressed with Andersons anymore, nor did Pella look all that great to us either. Marvin 's attitude turned us off when we called them. Then we heard about Weather shield and went to a local dealer. We wewre extremely impressed with the cross section of window that he showed us. That is what we purchased for our new home.

They are aluminum clad (extruded) on the outside and wood inside. They also have fiberglass, but I didn't want that. They are well made and look beautiful. We have 4 eight foot sliding glass french doors, 6 thirty-six inch wide by aprox. 54 in. long double hungs and an eight foot window that has a picture window center and two casements flanking it for over my sink. The sliding glass doors are the heaviest I have ever seen, and I have had Andersons in the past (before they started cheapening up their windows). We paid about $15,000 for all of these. I didn't feel this was bad, considering the amount of windows and quality.

I wanted the interior wood unfinished as I want to do that myself, but they are available stained or painted if desired. We bought the low E glass and they have a finish on them that help repel soil. They tilt out for cleaning and the tracks look easy to clean as well.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:08PM
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We ultimately went with Kolbe aluminum clad casements after seeing the windows and reading positive reviews here on Gardenweb. However, I will warn you that we have had huge issues with the local distributor here in Atlanta and no help from Kolbe in dealing with him. I will not post any names or details at this point because we are still hopeful that the distributor will do right by us. But I would just warn you to be careful. Make sure you review and understand every item and line of your order and don't depend on your builder or anyone else to sign off on this for you.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Originally considered Andersen (which I had bought before) and Pella. Ended up choosing Thermo-Tech (built in MN) vinyl windows and Andersen sliding doors. Quality is great, they look great, U-ratings are better and side by side comparisons and lots of research showed that the value was unmistakable.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermo-Tech

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 10:51PM
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So much great input here, thanks! I'm in Mass and it appears the closest dealer of Kolbe is in CT. Does anyone in MA/NH/ME/RI on here have Kolbe?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 2:46PM
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We used BILBEST Windows on the recommendation of our architect. What a BIG mistake!
We purchased aluminum clad wood, casements, double hungs, single exterior and French door for $57K. Few of the casement window locks could close/lock completely, causing most of them to protrude out several inches instead of laying flat. Several of the double hung window balances were also broken, and the locks for two of the french doors were faulty.
The manufacturers rep came out and said they would fix everything. After several months of NOTHING we contacted them again, only to be told that the rep had quit and they would send someone else out! Well the second one was not much better and told us that the casements could not be fixed, because that is the way they are manufactured!(Even though we showed him the couple that could lay flat and that's the way they're displayed at the dealers. He assured us they would fix the balances and door locks. Not hearing from the company for a couple of months we found out that the second rep had quit too.
BiltBest NEVER did send anyone to fix the balances or locks.
The dealer we purchased the windows from finally sent out his Anderson window repair guy to fix everything.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 12:58PM
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Todd - your message is concerning!!!! We haven't placed our order yet but I bet I know who you are dealing with as we are dealing with them too. We haven't decided on Kolbe yet for certain as we are waiting on a couple more clad samples to see if they will work - they were missing from the keychain. The ones on there definitely won't so we are still up in the air.

I understand that you don't want to out the supplier, but am interested in the type of issues you encountered so we can beware of them? Are they construction issues or were items delivered in the wrong sizes? I can't tell from your post if you are unhappy with Kolbe or the supplier . . . My builder deals with this supplier all the time and hasn't mentioned any problems, unlike another large dealer of tile and stone in Atlanta which he says he won't deal with again, ever.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 5:16PM
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Athens...happy to chat with you offline if you'd like. You can reach me through my website at where I am documenting our build. Send me a message and I'll follow up with my contact info.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Just curious, does anyone here ever look at windows that are made locally? And no, I'm not in that business. Just curious. I know several people that built houses O/B that used local windows and are very happy with them and these houses were in the range of anywhere from $400-800

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:12PM
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For those who may have read my previous post about Kolbe windows. I'd like to retract my previous post. It appears there may have been miscommunications with so many folks involved between our builder, construction supervisor, etc. The proper folks at Kolbe were never aware of our problems, and now that they are aware, they are offering to help us with our issues. Our original complaint was related solely to customer service and not with the quality of the product. In fact, we remain completely satisfied with the quality of the windows.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 6:05PM
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I posted in good faith that Kolbe had chosen to help us resolve our issues, but we are now told by the local distributor that in fact, Kolbe will not help us. We have heard nothing directly from Kolbe. I will post full details of our experience in a separate post a bit later on the off chance that we are being given incorrect or incomplete information.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:53AM
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I am not sure how old this thread is, but thank you all for the great information and advice given here. I too am shopping for windows and patio doors for a new home we are building just outside of Charlotte, NC.
I was initially looking at the Windsor Pinnacle aluminum clad windows since my friend has had them in his new home he built about 7 years ago and because they are available in the Bronze color that we desired for our home. They look great and he has not had any issues with his double hungs and the couple of casements on his home. My window quote for Pinnacle was about $21K for the whole house. That was for 36 windows (of various sizes), 2 french in-swing patio doors, one 3-panel french slider patio door and a single patio door.
Since I priced these, I started looking to trim the budget and priced the Windsor Legend celluar PVC windows as a lower cost alternative. The Legend would save about $4K, but is only available in white painted color inside and out, although they can be painted any color lighter than L-56. So, I would now have to factor in the painting cost. Another option my lumber company provided is the Jeld-Wen Builder Vinyl which does come in a beige color, and carries a lifetime warranty. He does not carry the other big names like Andersen, Marvin or Pella. Besides, the Windsor windows are made just few miles from where I plan to build, so I will supporting the local economy. My rep said the Pinnacle is the best value when it comes to aluminum clad wood windows. I managed to get my grading price down about $4K, so I may stick with the Pinnacle after all since I just cannot stand the look of white vinyl windows.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 2:32PM
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Has anyone used Simonton windows? I am in the midwest and never heard of most of these windows. My builder's choice is Anderson 400 series, but I keep reading how pricey these are....and I need to keep on a budget.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:24AM
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