I want a Honda!

binnesmanFebruary 5, 2014

I had no idea that entering the world of replacement windows would find me in the twilight zone! There is so much information out there and it is extremely difficult to figure out where reality is.

When you go and look at them, it seems fairly easy to weed out the truly inferior products from everything else. Thats where it becomes difficult.

Not everyone wants to buy and drive a Mercedes. I could if I wanted to, but I find it too impractical. I want a good, reliable ride that will service me well for a long time. With windows, the "Mercedes" type brands seem to be Marvin, Andersen, Loewen, Kolbe, and Pella. I'm talking expensive, not necessarily the best product.

What is the next tier? I can't afford to put 35k of windows into a 350k house. That doesn't make sense to me. So, leaving aside the brands above what does that leave you with?

The clad casement products from Windsor (Pinnacle) and Hurd look pretty good to me. Some installers I've talked with say they are good as well. I know Windsor had problems with their vinyl products in the past, and Hurd had problems with their double-hungs, combined with a bankruptcy issue. But they have increased their warranties, and look like they are in good financial shape.

Anyway, what specifically makes these products a "Yugo" type product (trying to continue the metaphor!) and not a Honda (or Toyota, or Subaru, etc). And if these companies aren't the mid-range, who is?

Can anyone out there help me figure this out? Thanks in advance for the info.

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HomeSealed_WI

If you are stuck on a wood window, you are shopping for a luxury car. Don't get stuck with a Cadillac Cimarron if you want a luxury car.
If you want a Honda, look at some vinyl or fiberglass options.
In my own opinion, there are very good wood windows worth buying, and then those that are not. Not much in between.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 3:43PM
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binnesman

We have to have a passable wood look due to HOA concerns. And there don't seem to be many alternatives in this area.

Okna, Sunrise, Milgard aren't available here as far as I can tell. I have checked the Infinity line and they have the highest quote so far.

Are there some other options you can recommend?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 4:29PM
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HomeSealed_WI

First, where are you located? That will dictate what is available as many choices are regional.
Second, most HOA's and Condo associations can and do only regulate what the window looks like on the exterior. If they want wood on the exterior, that will throw out all choices except the solid wood options. If you can have a synthetic exterior, that opens you up for wood clad, vinyl, fiberglass, etc. For instance, Andersen sells a vinyl clad wood window (as do others). What difference does it make then if the window is vinyl all the way through, or wood to the interior. Infinity is a fiberglass window with a stainable synthetic interior laminate. Many vinyl and composite windows offer the same, but again, the interior shouldn't really have any bearing on what is on the exterior.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 4:41PM
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binnesman

We are located in East Tennessee.

I don't think the HOA would have a huge deal with a vinyl window that did not distract largely with the feel of the neighborhood. And I know of at least one person has the Andersen vinyl clad. We are still trying to get that rep to the house. I know many of the homes have aluminum clad replacements. I think the language in the covenants was made when the vinyl windows looked much differently. To be honest there may be some vinyl windows in the neighborhood. I am not skilled enough to pick them out.

So, HOA aside. I would be open to a vinyl option, especially the ones that seem to be talked about most here. I just can't find them. Its hard to believe there isn't a good wood clad option, but if you say so I respect your opinion.

I liked the Infinities, but they are just too much. The Infinity guy said he has never had an Andersen quote come back lower than his, and I believe him. I assume thats the RBA.

I think Pella may have a vinyl option, but they don't seem very well liked around here.

So I feel kind of stuck. I would very much like to replace these original Huttig (?) wood DHs that feel like they are open when they are not!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 5:08PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

East Tennessee...? Say "wash".

Just kidding. I got tons of kin in Knoxville.

If you aren't prohibited from vinyl, you will get better efficiency bang for the buck and performance from the vinyl.

The Pella 350 (best of the Pella vinyl) is a pocket sill which is a big no, no.

Have you looked at the fiberglass market (Marvin Integrity maybe)? Might get you the wood look without the premium for good wood (i.e. Marvin, Loewen, Kolbe)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:32PM
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binnesman

The same guys who sell Hurd and Windsor also sell Marvin but not Infinity. I have asked several times about the Integrity which I thought might be a good compromise, but they seem to be steering me away from it.

Plus we are trying to go from DH to casement and one of the bedrooms has a window that is just a smidgen too wide for a single, and we need an operating window for egress. Ultimates and Integrities both won't work there unless you get a slightly smaller size and then fill in with trim. This doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Hurd and Pella both make one to fit that opening.

The Infinity guy suggested an awning window there to meet egress and look just like a casement, but the others aren't sure whether or not this really meets egress.

Here's another question for you. Are we silly to want to change from DH to casements? We like them in our situation because we have a lot of trees, and the casements add a little more light, while offering a more unobstructed view. Plus the windows we have now are extremely drafty, and we've had a very positive experience with very tight casement windows in a previous home (Pella). We are running into some tempered glass issues in some areas though which is driving up the cost somewhat, plus casements are more expensive to begin with. With today's DHs are we making too much of the air infiltration?

I would love to look at a good vinyl product from the ones mentioned most on this site. Wish I could find them here.

Sorry for the long reply. Just trying to find my way through this sea of information (and mis-information!) and get this done well.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:36AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

Whether Pella and Hurd will make that window is not a true indication or guarantee of success.

The all Ultrex Integrity casement used as an insert isn't bad looking and Marvin isn't really conservative on their size maximums so if they won't make it as a casement, I would trust the other guys.

They make DH at 55" wide so they aren't one to shy away.

If the opening is that wide, a DH will normally hit the mark if it is tall enough.

If you are going insert, the Marvin Integrity has it all over those other two guys you are mentioning in the wood/ultrex split.

I love casements but many folks don't like the necessity of the full screen, expense, difficult operation on larger openings, etc.

As a mean of air tightness, they are going to be better by design...but so should a newer style DH. How much more depends on the manufacturer and testing of the DH.

No worries about the questions...did you get my joke ("say wash")? You might not be a native so the point might be moot.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 11:02AM
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binnesman

WoW I will ask my new neighbors, who are definitely natives, about "say wash"! Hopefully they won't hit me or anything :) Seriously, we love the people here and feel like we fit in well even after only a few months.

As far as the air infiltration ratings, its hard to find them to do a comparison. I find the NFRC site to be difficult to navigate. And if I read correctly, the air infiltration number is optional for the manufacturers. The whole Energy Star thing seems like a starting point than a real comparison.

And I guess that is one of the reasons for starting this thread. I just want to be an informed consumer and buy a decent product at a decent price. If I want to buy a car, there are many places to find objective information and prices. For windows, no such thing. Most of the information is opinion. Some of it I'm sure is accurate. I'm just as sure some of it is not. Its difficult to go forward feeling confident in my decision, unless I pay way more than I can afford, or feel comfortable with.

Anyway, I appreciate the knowledge of folks like you who are sincerely trying to help the rest of us out here tackle this difficult task.

I will push the Integrity guy to give me a price. In the meantime maybe I can find someone around here who sells a decent vinyl.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:13PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

Good luck with the search and keep researching.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:51PM
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