Which replacement for den in Washington DC

lynnalexandraFebruary 1, 2010

I've looked through the posts but could still use advice. We're replacing 3 35" by 48" double-hung single pane glass windows in my husband's den.

We're in Washington DC - so it gets hot and humid in the summer, and cold in the winter (certainly days below freezing - usually above 20). These windows don't get a lot of light - north and east windows on ground level. The room is cold - and my husband has to run a humidifier to keep his guitars in good condition. So the room is moist. With single-panes on a cold day, there's lots of condensation - and mold and chipped paint on the window.

Should we replace with vinyl or not? We'd like maintenance free exterior. No grid work. Could even be single-hung. Slightly preferable if we could paint interior if it's wood - but vinyl is okay. What brand and considerations are there?

Any good stores or installers to be recommended? I know price varies enormously, but what's reasonable? Currently in brick (with plaster walls).



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Windows on Washington Ltd

Do you have an historic guidelines that you need to adhere to?

With high humidity, regardless of double pane Low-e, you will likely have some condensation on the windows. If that is the case, I would suggest vinyl, composite, or fiberglass.

You can get two of the three (composite and fiberglass) with a wood interior laminate that is stain-able and paintable. Vinyl will be available with a wood-look laminate.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 10:40PM
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Fortunately we don't have any historic guidelines to adhere to. We're in a 1962 split level house.

I can see avoiding wood to avoid the water damage. The only reason I said we might want wood is for the option to paint the frame. We're painting everything else in the room a very light cappucino color - all trim (including window trim and crown and base molding), built-in bookshelves, walls and even a lighter shade of the color on the ceiling. Just to keep to the monotone look, we'd prefer the cappucino colored frame to the usual white. We're not actually looking for a wood look - but want to match the other trim. Given that, should we look at composite or fiberglass? Any particular brands and models? any guestimate on price?

Vinyl with a wood-look laminate could be okay if it were a cherry that matched the cherry wood blinds.

I have two contractors so far to give me a bid. One uses Simonton. The other uses Jeld-Wen. Any warnings or recommendations within these lines?

We are in this house for the long haul - I'd guess 20 years at least - easily 30+. So it would be nice if it lasted. But this is the least visible window - both because my husband tends to keep the wooden blinds down - and one is on the north side facing nothing - the other two are lower level facing east - pretty much obscured behind plants and the fact that our house is raised at least 8 feet from the street level. So these windows won't be seen as much as the windows in our main living area - which were Pella from 12 years ago and Loewens from 4 1/2 years ago. All those look wonderful and have held up beautifully (although the Pella Install was not good until try three).

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 11:21PM
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If you are trying to decide between Simonton and Jeld-Wen, the Simonton is the better choice assuming you are looking at either the Reflections 5500, the Prism Platinum or the Impressions 9800. I would also recommend going with the ETC 270 glass package unless noise abatement is a concern. Then I'd go with laminated glass on the interior pane.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 12:34AM
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I am waiting on an estimate for Marvin Integrities - I believe these are the composite or fibergalss with wood interior so I can paint it.

I haven't decided yet whether having interior white vinyl will be an aesthetic deterrent in a room that has no other white. So for that reason, we may have vinyl exterior and wood inside (I know that means more of an issue for condensation).

I got 2 window prices - wonder what people think of the windows and prices - both qualify for the tax credit.

35" by 48" single window and one double unit (same size):
Lincoln - vinyal exterior, wood interior - about $1100 for windows (not installed)

Anderson Woodwright series - about $1300+ for windows.

Both quotes are for full replacement - not inserts. Is that the right way to go - we do want to maintain window space and light.

Are Lincoln's okay - lifetime warranty on glass, 10 years non-glass parts.

I'm going to meet with the installer who does Simonton tomorrow morning (although that may get cancelled due to an expected snow storm).

I have a question about installation as well. I know a good installation is critical - but I don't know how much experience/skill an installer needs. The salesman at the local construction supply store (that quoted Anderson and Lincoln prices) said they have a referral list - he was not free to make individual recommendations - but he also thought our handyman could do it. I have a new, terrific young handyman - but I don't know if I should even consider asking him to do this job. He's smart, pleasant, fairly priced. I met him when he installed an Elfa shelving system for us - and he was very good at that. Now he's started on his own. He no doubt could use the business but I'm worried that would incline him to say he could do this job, when this job might require special skills and know-how.

Skydawggy - based on your advice, if we like the installer who uses Jeld-Wen,I'll ask if he's willing to install another brand - possibly Simonton.

Thanks for the help. As I proceed, my understanding of what to consider - and what questions to ask, develops.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 2:30PM
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I've gotten more information- and have more questions. The Simonton installer came out. He uses Simonton prism series. His sample window was not very impressive - but I'm imagining it's taken a beating from being hauled around and used for demos repeatedly. It's also such a tiny sample, that there was a lot of frame for a small amount of glass. I know it wouldn't seem so drastic in our 35 by 48 size. He still has to get an estimate to me, but I think it's about $1300+ for 3 windows and installation. He does an insert - replacing the new vinyl window within the existing frame - thereby reducing glass size. I really don't like that - but my husband isn't as concerned. One plus to the insert style is that we can keep our current window trim and keep our cherry wood blinds - which were expensive and we love them. Is it true that doing a full replacement (removing the existing window entirely) means probably changing the size of the interior frame - and probably not being able to use these blinds again?

Since I am somewhat bothered by reducing the window size by 1 1/2 inches all the way around (about a 7.5% reduction of glass) - are there some decent vinyl replacements that don't have such thick frames? Where there's more glass for the same size? Either within the Simonton series or another maker?

Our designer said just stick to the white interior - so we might as well do all vinyl.

Technically the Simonton installer said that our window size was closer to 36 by 50 (I had measured from inside the window trim - he said there was a little more space behind it.

I'm sorry I'm not being very articulate with my questions. It's as though each window person I talk to is describing something completely different - and I'm too inexperienced to know what to look for. I guess these are my biggest concerns -
- do I have to do an insert to maintain to still be able to use our blinds (2 inch wood slats = 34 1/2" wide - and fit in length exactly - so they'll be too short if mounted outside the frame (right now they're mounted inside).
- what are the pros/cons to insert vs. full replacement
- are there insert replacements which don't cut off so much of the visible glass?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2010 at 9:59PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

The Simonton window is a good product but does have the slant against it of a little bit wider frame.

There are very good vinyl windows out there that are on the thinner side of that number.

Look for Sunrise, Soft-Lite Bainbridge, and Okna 500 for thinner frames. They will all be about 3/4" narrower on either side.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 11:09AM
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