Softlite Window Review by DIY Installer
I recently (October 2010) purchased and installed myself 18 SoftLite Elements Windows that I purchased from Morris Energy Solutions in Cincinnati, Ohio and thought my experiences may be of interest to others.
Overall I really like the engineering design of the windows. They seem to really seal well and have some nice design elements that I appreciate (mechanical engineer). However, the manufacturing/quality of them need to be commented on. I brought the following items to the attention of the CEO, Mr. Anderson, as well as the Sales VP, Mr. Irving for their response (I'll get to in a minute).
(email to SoftLite)..."[i]Upon my installation of the windows, I found numerous issues that have me
questioning the quality of these units.
Of the 18 windows:
a) One had a spacer that was bowed up beyond the top of the white vinyl
frame at the lock. It appears that the black caulk/adhesive used, bulged
the spacer making it a noticeable eyesore.
b) The service sash supplied to replace the window in "a" above did not
seal. Upon further investigation, the middle of the window sash was bowed
inward more than an 3/16" inch preventing the side seals from contacting the
frame. This was confirmed with a metal straight edge and tape measure.
c) Three windows were supplied with black caulk/adhesive chunks "stuck"
between the glass and the glazing bead. These are out of reach to remove
but extremely visible against the white window.
d) Several windows had black caulk/adhesive dripped across the glass. While
this could be scrapped off, I don�t find this acceptable of something I
e) On two windows, I found screws for the lock to be almost falling out.
Obviously, I was able to tighten these but upon doing so, found chunks of
plastic from the drilling of the holes prevented the screws from fully
f) One screen had broken at the rubber gasket. I can agree that this may
have happened during shipment. The screen was repaired by Morris Energy
g) One screen�s slide lock is broken in that the spring element is
non-existent. I can still lock the screen by sliding it over, I just note,
that this is not how it was intended.
h) Two sashes had incomplete cuts on the handle section resulting in a sharp
whisker left on it. A razor blade was used to complete the cut.
While I feel some of these are minor, collectively they push the limit of a
product that would be deemed "high quality". Of the 18 windows, almost 50%
had some kind of issue/s with them. Just about all of the above should have
been caught at the factory and corrected prior to shipping.
I am not asking for an apology because in truth, Morris Energy Solutions
would deserve it based on all the efforts they made to correct the problems.
Even though I was the installer, Mr. Hillebrand and his tech came out to
my house a total of 4 times to help with these issues. I appreciated their
efforts but ultimately I became frustrated with Soft-Lite�s lack of evidence
Mr. Hillebrand has offered to replace the sash�s with the spacer issue and the black
caulk/adhesive chunks. I have tried to be reasonable and accepted his offer
only for the bowed spacer. I have installed (where possible) some of the
"chunk" windows in locations where they are less likely to be seen.
I note that both Soft-Lite�s Mission and Vision Statement are focused on
"quality". I question how these are being implemented prior to shipment of
windows given the experiences I had. I have been very pleased with the
design engineering of the window. Unfortunately, it�s the quality that
prevents me from recommending these windows to neighbors and friends. This
becomes unfortunate not only for Soft-Lite, but more importantly Morris
Energy Solutions as our neighborhood of over 100 homes is currently active
in replacing 20 year old windows.
When I investigated Soft-Lite on the Internet, I found very little in the
way of reviews. The few I did fine were mostly positive although a couple
years old. I am not out to bad mouth Soft-Lite, I only want to share
factual experiences of the quality and design that I noted so future
potentials buyers can have more information to reflect on which I would have
found helpful in making my decision.
I would like to give you this opportunity to respond if you so choose before
I share my experiences with Soft-Lite on a few web forums."(end of email)
While my email was immediately responded to in a positive manner by both Mr. Anderson and Mr. Irving, the promise of sending someone (a rep) from Cleveland never materialized as promised in the timeframe they committed to. I sent pictures to Mr. Irving showing the above noted issues. Since then, it has become apparent that there is no interest in resolving this issue. While this is unfortunate, I do think my experience is worth noting and thus I share it with those interested in SoftLite Windows.
I also would share that as a serious DIYer, I can't recommend doing this project yourself. I may have saved a few thousand dollars, but the time required, hassles and cleanup are probably not worth it. Overall, I would rate the design of the windows as an "A", manufacturing/quality as a "D", and followup by SoftLite and Morris Energy Solutions as a "C". Just my two cents.
SoftLite & Morris Energy Solutions Customer in Cincinnati OH