Help! Heart set on Marvin windows, Architect says Plygem Mira

suzprinceOctober 31, 2011

Please help me! I have had my heart set on Marvin Ultimate windows (current quote $$24,000) but know that I may have to settle on Marvin Integrity (Quote ($15,000) for budget issues.

Now our Architect keeps on and on that we can save so much more by going with Plygem Mira windows - and that they will give us the same performance as the Marvin's. He also says they are aluminium clad which is better than the fiberglass in the Integrity (at a lower price).

I really need your expert help here .. is he as wrong as I think he is?? Or am I??

Thanks for any help/advice!


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The fiberglass is better for energy performance, unless I'm missing something...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Lori is right -- the thermal/energy performance of fiberglass is better than aluminum. In addition, fiberglass is virtually unaffected by changes in temperature -- it doesn't expand or contract. Aluminum (and vinyl) will expand and contract, which can lead to failure in the seals over time.

Also, Integrity windows are almost maintenance free. They won't corrode or get dull like aluminum. I replaced a window in my house with Integrity earlier this year so I'm very familiar with the product. I still have some older aluminum windows in my house and I can't wait to replace them -- they are cold in the winter and the finish has gotten cloudy and pitted over time.

Does your architect have any financial incentive to get the Plygem windows?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 7:52AM
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P.S. I have a business relationship with Integrity, but I bought their product on my own dime (no discounts or special treatment). I can honestly say that it's a great product and my own experience with it as a homeowner has been excellent.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 8:56AM
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Thanks, Reinan - it is always good to hear from some-one who has used the product!!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:47AM
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Epiarch Designs

The Integrity is definately what I would pick. Fiberglass is a better option then a wood clad aluminum window. The u values are not very good on the Plygem windows (barely hitting Energy Star). I didnt spend much time looking, but I could not find the other ratings easily, which typically means they are also nothing to brag about. I would question your architect as to the reasons he/she feels aluminum it better.
If I were buying a US window, I would pick the Integrity even if money was not a driving force.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Ply Gem sells vinyl and aluminum windows, doors, siding and fencing, as well as stone veneers and other products for the residential building market.

Ply Gem was formed in 2004 when CI Capital Partners, a New York private equity firm, paid $560 million for the vinyl products division of Nortek, a building-materials supplier based in Rhode Island. Since then, Ply Gem's owners have bought five more building-materials businesses (MW Windows, CertainTeed Windows, Patriot Windows, Great Lakes Windows and Alenco Windows) and slashed costs by combining operations, closing facilities and eliminating about half its work force. Ply Gem has a lot of debt and plans an IPO (PGEM) in order to repay it's creditors and expand its operations but weakness in the IPO market has caused Ply Gem to postpone its plans.

Marvin has been a family owned and operated business since 1904 and was the leader in developing Kynar finished extruded aluminum cladding for wood windows while Pella and others still offer roll-form aluminum cladding.

The company introduced Integrity fiberglass clad wood windows as well as all-fiberglass windows nine years ago. During the recession Marvin continues to refuse to lay off employees or reduce their health insurance benefits.

I had a problem with the balance system of a 29 year old Marvin DH replacement window and they told me to get the code number from the jamb liner and and they would send me a new one for free.

The reason to not use Marvin is if you can't afford them or if you don't plan to live in the house long enough to justify the additional cost.

A reasonable alternative is the Anderson Woodwright vinyl clad wood window or the extruded aluminum clad wood Eagle Talon made by a division of Andersen.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 4:28PM
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Thanks Renovator8 - much appreciated!

Someone has now suggested we look at Inline fiberglass windows - any thoughts on how they compare with Integrity?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 5:21PM
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Epiarch Designs

Inline is a Canadian company (if that matters to you) who uses a full heavy fiberglass frame that is insulated. (fiberglass inside and out). I believe they veneer the interior if you want a real wood look. Inline offers a much larger selection of glass packages if you are wanting to tune the windows for maximum energy efficiency. They have better u values and better infiltration numbers. All and all, they will be a more efficient window, but will most likely cost somewhere between the Marvin Premiums and Integrity, depending on your glass packages. They have triple pane options that only add around $50-90/ window.
Inline is one I would definately consider, as well as Fibertec (both Canadian). Thermotech is also great, but will be priced like the Marvins.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:02AM
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Inline is an all-fiberglass replacement window. It should not be compared with Marvin's Integrity fiberglass clad wood window.

It might be comparable to Marvin's Integrity all-ultrex window but I suspect it is more like the Marvin Infinity all-ultrex replacement window.

It might also be comparable to an Andersen all-composite (Fibrex) replacement window.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 9:16AM
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Inline would be comparable to Integrity from Marvin but with higher performance values in air and water infiltration and higher pricing. Inline windows are manufactured for new construction no, reason as far as I know they could not be used for replacement windows but they are not marketed as a replacement window.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 11:29AM
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Epiarch Designs

Fibrex is not comparable as it is not fiberglass. IMO, fibrex is below any of the options on the table. I have messed with the windows in person and they definitely look like the cheap price you pay for them.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 12:17PM
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I have not been able to find an Inline window detail that shows a nailing flange and I have seen them advertized online as replacement windows.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 4:42PM
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Thanks, all. I'm also thinking about windows.

It looks like PlyGem has a much better warranty. Lifetime or, if the house is sold, 20 years for materials and 5 years for labor (it looks like Marvin's is just 10 years). To my inexperienced eyes, it looks like PlyGem has the best warranty I've seen. Would you trust it?

I wonder if it's Hyundai-type phenomenon, where a company uses a great warranty to try to compensate for a bad reputation. Hyundais are pretty reliable these days, but their quality rankings really improved _after_ they started the 100,000-mile warranty standard.

Even if PlyGem is fine, everything I've read says that fiberglass is best. Other things being equal, is there a reason to prefer aluminum?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 8:02PM
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Pretty much all the Inline I have been quoting recently have been commercial set in masonry so the quotes have had masonry strap anchors. I will have to look tomorrow and or ask my contact at the factory.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 8:06PM
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I just noticed that the lifetime warranty is only on PlyGem products from certain western plants, and does not appear to apply to Mira. Reading the Mira warranty, I'm much less impressed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mira warranty

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 8:09PM
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Epiarch Designs

Reno- trust me, they can come with nailing flanges. They can come with a whole slew of other options including various depths of brick ledges with nailing flanges in them, some quite deep to give you "innie" windows if you prefer. A nice feature if you have thick walls, such as ICF or double stud.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 9:33AM
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