Andersen, Marvin, or Kolbe

rkb21February 14, 2013

So, we've had Andersen, Marvin and Kolbe come out to look at the windows/ sliding patio doors we need to replace. I want to change out 2 5ft sliding patio doors and a triple door sliding patio door and we have 2 single double hung and a triple double hung window that I want to convert to casements.

I've ruled out vinyl just for aesthetic reasons. I would like to do wood interior and clad exterior.

They are all tear out replacements.

Andersen would be the A vs E series vs 400 series
Marvin would be the Made to Order line [alum clad]
Kolbe would be the Ultra clad line

One of them said they could just replace the doors/windows and leave the transoms as is so that we could keep the shutters that we have on the transoms and still use the window treatments.

One of them said they would need to change the transoms but we could keep the window treatments on the windows and the shutters on the transoms.

One of them said that we need to change the transoms and there is no way the window treatments and shutters could be used.

I'm SO confused!

The reason I was given is that each company has a slightly different size window and if we change the windows the transom lines wouldn't match up and that the window width may be different so the shutters and window treatments wouldn't fit. They all seemed to think that the interior window trim could be reused.

Now, I need to consider cost of the transom replacement, new window treatments and new shutters for the transoms :(

I have no firm bids yet. I know that will help make our decision.

Questions for the experts out there:

*any thoughts on the windows from the three companies? which is preferred and in what order?

*any thoughts on the transom, window treatment, shutter issue?

Thanks so much!!!

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I am assuming the Andersen was the 400 woodwright ?
All nice windows with Marvin being the top of the food chain.
Depending on where you are located, there are some newer products that are composites . They are very nice looking and are more energy efficient than wood windows with the extra advantage of no maintenance.
Starmark windows is one of them.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:00AM
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I would be pretty certain without even seeing pictures of your house that the sight-lines will NEVER line up from double hung transoms to casement transoms and sliding door transoms to anything. Window treatments ans shutters sight unseen no way of knowing. Interior trim again maybe maybe not, they would know better. As far as order of preference from me, Marvin Ultimate Clad,Kolbe Ultra Clad pretty much neck and neck Marvin by a nose and 400 Series Andersens third but a distant third in my opinion.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 8:16AM
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Andersen... in that order.
All three are solid though.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Epiarch Designs

I just got done installing all Kolbe windows and doors in my new home under construction. I went with Kolbe for a bunch of reasons, mainly being the options I had for the price/value and service recieved from my rep. We went with the Ultra EP line which is the triple pane, all casements and fixed windows. Doors are the Ultra swinging doors. The factory did mess up some of the glass in my south windows, however they are on it and will replace the glass first of March. However as far as fit and finish, overall quality, they are very good. Obviously time will tell, but so far I am impressed with the details, joints, quality of wood on the interior, casement hardware is very good, door hardware is very good, etc. I also looking into Marvin. While also very good, the price for the options was too high and the ratings I am after were higher on the Kolbes. Check out my blog below for pictures of the windows and additional information.

Here is a link that might be useful: home blog

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:41AM
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The A series is an all new design with fiber glass, looks nice but unproven, The E-Series is also a nice window , a notch below the Kolbe and Marvin but is usually priced that way deserves consideration. Ther 400 series uses a vinyl sash in a wood frame. I haven't seen many problems with these, but having done glass replacement in them I can tell you that the sash is not very sturdy on it own. Casemnets are prone to condensation damage on the bottom rail, the 400 series is less prone to with it's vinyl sash. I would look for a window that has a low condensation resistance number for this reason especially in the Northern zones. I wood look for a some type of non conductive spacer, though it can be hard to find in wood windows or consider going triple pane. If I went triple I would give Kolbe the nod.

What kind of windows are your transoms? What color is the exterior,is it clad,is it faded?
The Andersons are fiberglass or vinyl coated on their exterior. The Marvin ,Kolbe and E-series are aluminum clad or wood.
The safe bet would be to replace transoms, ut is really hard to say without seeing it in person. Some closeup pictures might help to give opinion, but hard to say for sure.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Thanks for all of the responses!

The Andersen rep said that the windows would be made custom sized so that the transom lines would match. He also said that there is enough support between the transoms and the windows so they wouldn't need to be replaced. He said since the house is 20yrs old, the frame looks good, we have 2x6 construction [not sure what that means], that the insulation is probably fine. We could just do inserts.

I got a consensus from the Marvin and Andersen rep that our current windows are Weathershield if that helps anything. Not sure how they knew though, there is no markings on the windows, locks, etc.

mmarse1- I did call Okna and they don't have a dealer here in st louis. I'm not sure if they have Starmark...I will check. Yes, they are the 400 woodright series.

millworkman-Is there a closer 3rd after Marvin and Kolbe that I should consider before Andersen for wood interior?

toddinmn-Our current windows are white wood interior and white vinyl clad, I think. As to what kind of transoms we have...I don't really know. Are you asking brand, size, etc? How do I know what type of spacer is in the window in the windows we are considering? I don't think the exterior is faded but maybe if I inspected it closely...

Izerarc-That's great to hear that you had a good experience with Kolbe :)

Sorry for so many questions...I feel like I am not getting anywhere with this project, but I truly appreciate all of the input you have all given!!!

If it wasn't for the draftiness of the windows, I wouldn't need to change them out. We've never had water leaks, condensation, etc. However, the sliding doors face SW and get a lot of sun....the glass gets EXTREMELY hot.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:45PM
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I saw that you have ruled out vinyl due to aesthetics, but there are 2 big red flags here to me.
1)You have white interiors. The primary reason to go with a wood product is the beautiful look and feel. Painting it white pretty much kills that aspect IMHO.
2) You are replacing the windows due to draftiness. Without a doubt, new high quality wood windows like those that you have mentioned will be better in this regard, but wood windows do tend to have worse air infiltration ratings than their high-end vinyl counterparts. To put that in perspective, an average wood window will be in the range of .2+cfm, while premium vinyl lines get down as low as .01. I realize that you are looking at converting to casements which will lessen that difference, but it is still something to consider. have you looked at any of the higher end vinyl windows? I realize that Okna is not available in your area, but Sunrise and Softlite should be. You may be pleasantly surprised by the appearance, particularly the Sunrise casement. It has a great look.
.... just a few things to ponder :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Homesealed- Thanks for the suggestion. My husband really doesn't like the idea of vinyl, but he hasn't even seen them! I think I'll give one of those companies a call.

How do I know whether tear outs are necessary in my home? Is there an easy way to figure this out?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 6:15PM
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Maybe replace the weatherstripping on the existing windows?
i do believe Anderson is eliminating the Woodright series and replacing it with the A-Series, The last time I priced out the A -Series it was quite a bit more than the Woodright and even more than Marvin.
You could also check out the new 100 series from Andserson, it is all fibrex and price reasonably well. Although I don't care for the 100 series single-hung and slider the casement seems pretty nice. It has a 0.023 air infiltration number which is pretty good but the U-values are only around 0.30 which is typical of alot of wood products but low for upper end vinyl.
if you could show pictures of the existing windows it would be easier to determine if inserts would work well. Remember that everyones white is a different color and it may not match up well.
I would not be as concenerned about the spacer or triple pane if you are not having any problems now with condensation.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:03PM
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toddinmn- Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't really like the 100series by Andersen. The 400 series and the A series were nice. I'm still not sure about the E series performance, etc.

Do you need interior and exterior pictures of the current windows? How closeup do they need to be and what details are important so that I take pictures that would be useful :)

The windows are just so drafty, I don't know if improved weatherstripping would work. On the patio doors, the blinds move when it's windy outside. Just out of curiosity, would you take the window out and add some sort of insulation around it and put it back in or is there something else you mean by adding weatherstripping? Sorry, I just have no clue...

Thanks in advance for all of the help!!!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:32PM
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A close up of the jamb and sill area within 2 feet from the interior side with the window open should work.
I would look at replacing the factory weatherstripping first.There should be weatherstripping on the upper sash where it meets the head of the frame. Some on either sash where they both meet at the checkrail and some on the bottm sash where it meets the sill.The weatherstrip should contact the sill and head of frame, evenly and completely all the way across.Look for cracked and missing weatherstripping.The sashes should have little side to side movement as well. Pictures would reveal what type of weather seal it has on the jamb, more than likely it is a compression system backed by foam. If the foam is broke down you'll have excessive lateral movement of the sashes.Also check if the sashes fit square in the frames themselves.Check the same things for the doors.Storm windows would also make a big difference if you wanted to go that route and are typically very easy to install.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:32AM
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Did I read above that your existing windows are old Weathershield dh's? If so, you can do an insert no problem. The reasons to do a tear out would be:

-existing frame is in TERRIBLE shape. A little bad wood on the sill or brickmold can be replaced without needing a full tear.
-there are existing leakage issues. An insert replacement utilizes the existing water management system to at least some degree in most cases, where as it will be all new in a full tear.
-You are very sensitive about the glass loss, as you will lose some glass area by inserting a new frame inside the existing frame. Some models have slimmer lines to mitigate that issue.

Back to the possibility of vinyl, I would definitely recommend at least taking a look . The Sunrise unit is about the sharpest vinyl casement that you'll find, so it would be a great measuring stick as to whether or not the appearance is acceptable... and for the record, I don't even sell that product at all, it is just a really nice unit :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:10PM
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I actually don't know for sure if they are Weathershield but the Andersen rep and the Marvin rep both said they think they are weathershield. Without any markings on the window, I have no way to know for sure or how they knew.

This is my first time posting pictures so I hope it works.

My biggest question is do we need to do tear out vs inserts? Not sure if you can tell from the pictures or not. I can post more if needed.

Next is do the transoms need to come out as well or can the windows or door just be replaced?

Homesealed- I will definitely look at sunrise. The frames look fine to me, but I am definitely no expert :)

I really do appreciate all of the help from everyone...I feel like I'm drowning with all of these decisions!!! We're doing a kitchen remodel so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Here is a link that might be useful: window pictures

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 3:40PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

They do not look like Andersen or Marvin.

Nothing about that install looks as if necessitates a full tear out unless you want that extra 1.5" of glass or so.

There are several ways to tackle the transoms. They can be done as sash packs, IGU, inserts, or full tear outs.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 3:12PM
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wow- thanks for taking the time to look at the pictures and comment. I don't really want a full tear out if we don't need it. The Marvin rep and the Kolbe rep both said I needed to do full tear outs. I don't know what the current windows are, but the Marvin rep seemed to think they were WeatherShield. There are no markings that I can find, so who knows? In terms of the transoms, I have no idea what the difference is between the options you mentioned...I know what the insert vs tear out is but not the sash pack and IGU.

Homesealed- I went to see the Soft-lite Imperial LS today. They look nice. The numbers for AI are awesome! The rep is coming over Thurs to measure and give me a bid. We'll see where they come in on cost.

We have so many windows and they are so large, that the little bit that we would lose with inserts isn't a big deal to me. I am thinking that I will change out the 2 dh windows flanking the fireplace to picture windows and have the triple window converted into casements with a picture window in the center. It seems like it's possible to do that.

I want to avoid replacing the transoms b/c I don't want to change out the shutters...they are in good shape and cost a few thousand to put in.

I am so grateful to all of you who have helped me along the way...I feel like I'm muddling my way through all of this. It's hard when each company comes and tells you something different that needs to be done :(

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 3:53PM
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The transoms could stay.Tthe weathershields you have there now are considered a sash pack.This type of window is easily converted to an insert type window. They are easy to service the weather stripping as well which is often a semi rigid plastic that cracks and fall apart once aged. I would not want to lose the ability to vent on the fireplace windows, but you know best how the windows are used.The other bank of 3 would work fine but would require more work if you wanted to either mull all 3 together or enlarge the picture window.Mulling them together would have less glass loss as well.I would not be afraid to put double-hungs back in either because of air infiltration, just use a good window.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 6:30PM
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toddinmn- Thanks for taking the time to look at the pictures and make some suggestions. So, you think that they could easily do insert windows where the triple windows are and it would be the easiest if we kept it 1/3, 1/3, 1/3? Also, you think the transoms could be left in place when replacing the patio doors?

One question on the fireplace venting there some code or something that you have to have functional windows flanking the fireplace? We never use the fireplace, but I just want to make sure there isn't something I'm overlooking.

I still haven't gotten the bids for the windows.

I'm still stumped as to why Marvin and Kolbe would say I need tearouts when inserts would be fine.

Thanks again!!! You guys are bringing some sanity back into my life :)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 8:59AM
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It could be because of the product lines that they are proposing. Most companies that use wood windows on a regular basis do full tear-outs more frequently than the guys that have more of a balance between vinyl and wood. I can't say for sure that those are replacement "sash packs", as many full frame windows have similar compression style jamb liners, but Todd's other points are right on. No reason not to use inserts.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:52AM
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There is no code that requires venting windows at fireplace that I know of.Putting windows into existing openings is always easier.It would not require much more work in you case to modify the opening for a different configuration.The
transoms above the could stay.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:19AM
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+1.... I'll also add that the Softlite that you saw is a very good product. The Sunrise offers similar performance, and what most consider a more appealing look. You can't go wrong with either choice.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Thanks again!

I am waiting on the Sunrise dealer to get back to me.

I guess I'll have to see where everyone's bid come in and go from there.

I'll keep you posted!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Thanks again!

I am waiting on the Sunrise dealer to get back to me.

I guess I'll have to see where everyone's bid come in and go from there.

I'll keep you posted!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 12:08PM
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So I spoke to the marvin rep today and asked if inserts were possible. His response, "well, we could do that if that's the way you want to go. But, the doors need to be tear out bc the transoms are mulled so I can't give you a guarantee on the work if we leave it in place."

First off, why would I do a full tear-out if not necessary.

Second, I'm still not sure what the deal is with the transoms above the sliding doors. Who do I believe marvin & Kolbe who say tear outs or Andersen who says transoms can stay and inserts are fine?

Any way for me to know for sure before they start working on the windows?

Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 8:06PM
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If some of the window dealer people think they are Weathershields, why don't you call Weathersheld for options? Its a higher end brand window (and they are still in business), and they shouldn't be needing complete replacement yet, your house doesn't look like its even 20 years old yet! They may have a fix for your existing windows and doors. Maybe if your house isn't that old, they may still be under warranty!

Maybe they could do window sash replacements if that is what has failed. I would try to get your existing windows fixed before going through all the mess and expense of replacing what were pretty expensive windows in their day.

I mean if you are going to replace them with a vinyl window (which I don't recommend), you are downgrading to lower end windows.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:15AM
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Wow, Weathershield "a higher end brand window" and "downgrading to lower end windows", very interesting thought process!!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Registered today to post up that remark about Weathershield.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:36AM
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lmao, is he related to grumpy cat???

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Hey, I am the only one NOT recommending spending a arm and a leg on replacement windows on an almost new house. The existing windows should be repaired, not ripped out and replaced by any brand or type. Did you look at the pics the OP posted?

I don't sell windows, but I see far too many people replacing windows that don't need to be replaced.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 2:08PM
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1) I could add 20 pages to this thread full of windows less than 20, 15, even 10 years old that are rotted apart. That includes some big name, high end brands (primarily wood), and even some composites.

2) There are a variety of reasons that folks replace windows, so all we can do is answer questions. An inspection would most often be needed to determine whether or not replacement or repair is advisable, but certainly repair, storm windows, etc are all viable alternatives in some cases.

3) Most wood windows have a 20/10 warranty, meaning if they are older than 10 yrs, the majority of potential issues will not be covered.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Thanks for all of the input. I have been waiting to post a followup once I had bids for all of the companies.

Lol on the cat pics :)

I am waiting on another Andersen rep to come out again to give me a quote.

Soft-lite came out and gave me a bid for the windows.

Marvin and Kolbe are still 'working on' the bids.

I honestly have no idea if they are Weathershield or not. I did ask our neighbors who had built their home and still live there [same builder]. She thinks that they are Crestline windows. Again, without markings on the windows, I have no idea what they are.

The house is about 20yrs old.

Anyway, I will definitely post again once I have the bids. I know I will have questions :)

I really do appreciate all of the help I've received thus far from all of the window experts!!!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:52PM
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1- Of the three windows you mentioned Andersen is the odd man out. Andersen is not in the same class as Marvin and Kolbe. Andersen wraps their casement window with cheap vinyl. Marvin and Kolbe use extruded Aluminum on the exterior. Aestetically there is no comparison.

2- Do not use a vinyl window. They are not good. Vinyl is weak, it expands and contracts at a very high rate, they discolor and they actually off gas VOC's. there is a reason they are super cheap.

3- Somebody mentioned that Weathershield is higher end than Marvin & Kolbe. This is not true. In fact i would reccomend Andersen over Weathershield. On top of being poorly manufactured they are known for terrible customer service.

4- have you looked at Integrity by Marvin? Integrity is priced below Marvin MTO. It is a Fiberglass window with a wood interior. It is beautiful window and will price higher than Andersen but far less than Marvin & Kolbe.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 3:57PM
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I'd agree with window mike on points 1, 3, and 4. Strongly disagree on point 2. Those points are outdated and/or inaccurate, and characterize only poor quality products. There are excellent vinyl choices, just as there excellent wood choices, composites, etc. Each material has its pros and cons, and the better examples of each are most certainly engineered with the inherent properties of the material in mind, to both exploit its strengths and mitigate its weaknesses.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:08PM
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Home Sealedy

I know a lot of people who like Vinyl. I ask them to plead their case but so far i am not convinced. What do you feel the strengths of Vinyl are? Low maintenance and a decent insulator would be the only 2 things i can think of. You can reinforce the core with metal or fill the inside with foam but to me the problem is the Vinyl it self. Its still a petroleum based product so it definately off gases right? They have certainley improved the product but i certainley would not compare it to a window like Marvin. Who would you say manufactured a good Vinyl Window and Why. I am not asking to be a wise ass.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Any number of household and other products off gas, but NOT at harmful levels. Is your home completely devoid of plastics? Do you drive around with your windows open because your dashboard is off gassing? That is nothing more than a scare tactic perpetrated but manufacturers that sell products other than vinyl. Here are some other items that off gas:

Mattress (foam/batting)
Stains/Paints/Varnishes (on your 'AHEM', wood windows)
Flooring materials (vinyl, glues, finishes, adhesives)
Plywood/Oriented Strand Board (OSB)/Particle Board
Cleaning supplies
Copiers/Printers in the home office
Aerosol sprays
Air fresheners
Dry-cleaned clothing
Moth/Insect repellents
Furniture (engineered wood components or tabletop finish)
Packing foam (peanuts)

You get the idea, right?
Regarding strength, as I alluded to earlier, a well engineered product will take advantage of the strengths, and mitigate the weaknesses associated with the material of which it is constructed. Vinyl windows are strengthened in a number of ways via the aforementioned reinforcements and or foam, but even more so through the design of the vinyl extrusion and its chambers.
On comparing to marvin: it depends on the criteria of the comparison. In performance, you are right, there is no comparison, as the top vinyl choices will handily beat every wood and or fiberglass product that Marvin makes in every measurable area of energy efficiency (U value, air infiltration, design pressure, etc). I'd also contend that the strength of a window is more accurately reflected in its structural test ratings, rather than the tensile strength of the raw material which is nearly irrelevant when all is said and done.
In beauty and richness of the look and feel, again, I'd say it is very one sided, but that is the primary advantage of wood. I've not seen a vinyl window that can compare to a beautifully stained Marvin Ultimate in appearance. That said, a painted wood/ultrex or all ultrex vs premium vinyl is a different story.
The elite (mainstream) vinyl products IMHO are the HiMark and Okna 800 series, and the Softlite Elements. The Sunrise Restorations is very nice as well. I view those as the top products due to my experience selling, installing, and servicing windows, as well as the fact that they have the best thermal and structural ratings of the mainstream offerings in the US.
I sell vinyl, wood (including Marvin), fiberglass, and composite, but vinyl is our biggest seller as it provides the most value.
Superior efficiency
Less maintenance
Won't rot
Better warranty

I don't mean for this to sound like an ad for vinyl windows, but that is just my assessment of the situation. I actually happen to love Marvin windows. They are the RIGHT choice for some people/homes based on a variety of factors, while premium vinyl is the RIGHT choice for other folks. The day that a perfect window is invented that combines the best of both worlds I'm sure it will change the industry, and I'll be the first one on the bandwagon. :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 6:08PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Window Mike,

I think HomeSealed put a bunch of information in there already and what I think he and I share in common is a desire to put the best window in a home that we can per our customer's needs.

The reality is, for most people, you cannot beat the strength and performance of the upper end vinyls out there.

If you were to survey the top 100 performance windows out there as it pertains to strength, air infiltration, thermal performance, and DP....75% of them would be vinyl.

The claims of deformation and lack of rigidity can be accurate just as the claims of a wood window rotting out in 1 year could also be accurate.

My point being...if I find a poor representation of an entire family of products...that should not be the sole representation of that family of products.

For the record...I love Marvin Wood and some of their Fiberglass too!!

Off gassing is a non-issue unless you start burning vinyl. This has been long since documented and the lack of plasticizers in uPVC makes them very inert at normal temperatures. If you start burning them, you need to be out of the house anyway.

Comparing vinyl to some of the fiberglass and treated wood products out there, I can tell you that I have had worse headaches unloading those products at the shop than I ever did unloading PVC windows. I nearly got knocked over by the smell of a delivery truck from a major fiberglass manufacturer while fiberglass is often regarded and more "environmentally" friendly.

In the end, I think every product has its place and there certainly are + and - to each.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 8:41AM
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Hi, guys are a wealth of information!

Just wanted to know if there is another wood or fiberglass window company you recommend besides Kolbe, Marvin and Andersen? Okna/Starmark is not in our area. We are in Missouri.

I got a bid from Softlite in case we decide to go the vinyl route. I will also get Sunrise to come.

I figure I might as well look into them before deciding.

This post was edited by rkb21 on Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 6:49

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Do you have an installer picked out already?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 11:46AM
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No I don't. I've just been to the window companies websites and calling the local dealers. There is only one dealer for each of the companies listed, except Andersen who has a lot of dealers.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 1:19PM
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I've tried to catch up on the discussion and wanted to add just a bit of info I've begun to understand about the different Andersen lines.

First some background. 2 years ago we had an Andersen 400 awning put in when we did our kitchen. I didn't do a ton of research at the time, and frankly don't recall the decision points around choosing Andersen aside from there was a dealer close by. We're very happy with it 2 years later.

Now, we're embarking on a 20 window full brick-to-brick replacement of everything. 17 double hung windows and a small bank of 3 square windows - 2 casement and 1 awning in the center (so we can open the awning in the rain and reach out the casements to clean it - 3rd floor).

After doing a lot of reading and comparing, we're headed towards the A Series Andersen. It was either the A Series or the 400 Woodwright, both of which have wood cladding over the jamb liner. The plastic jamb liner of the Eagle was a non-starter for me.

Anyhow - the cross-section of the window construction is where most of the differences are found, and even then, the different styles of windows all have slight differences.

My 400 Series Awning is a solid wood window frame with vinyl cladding. There is no Woodwright Awning model.

The A Series Awning and Casement windows have fiberglass exterior sashes, wood interior, and Fibrex sills and frames with wood interiors. Note the fiberglass - NOT Fibrex on the window itself.

The A Series Double Hung is also Fibreglass on the window sashes and Fibrex on other exterior components. The interiors are of course wood.

The Woodwright Double Hung is Fibrex on all the exterior surfaces. It's not clad as such - it's extruded (pulltruded?) forms with hollow cavities like a vinyl. These join to wood interior pieces.

I'm waiting on a quote on the Marvin lines, including the Integrity which is their fiberglass exterior / wood interior window.

But frankly I don't like the look of the Marvin or even Pella double hungs compared to the Andersen Woodwright or A Series. The Andersen have more details on the interiors. The Marvin and Pella seem to be more 'squared' and simple looking on the inside. Appealing no doubt, but I prefer the small details seen in the Andersen line.

We also prefer the look of the A Series hardware - very classic looking.

These are going in a 100 year old solid brick home. While we have eclectic taste in furnishings, I've tried to maintain a classic original look to the house itself putting in 10" baseboards on the main floor etc.

So just my $0.02 on the Andersen construction. They are NOT simply 'vinyl clad' wood windows as someone suggested earlier. Do your homework, look at the cross sections available at the dealers and the pics online. You can see the difference between the Fibrex and Fiberglass in those cross sections - the Fiberglass is solid white whereas the composite Fibrex product is brownish in color.

The pre-finished white interior of the A Series (available in 'white' and 'birch bark') is also good. The Birch Bark seems to be a very close match to Benjamin Moore Cloud White, which is the color of all our wood trim and kitchen. With the 400 Series awning there is very little wood to see on the interior, but all the double hungs are of course very 'woody'.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Just a correction - it's the base 400 Series double hung that has a frankly horrible jamb liner / tilt function. It's really awful in my opinion.

The Eagle is a different beast. Nice window, but preferred the look of the Woodwright and A Series (which on the surface are nearly identical, but different in details such as hardware and the actual construction).

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 9:07PM
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I think people get too crazy with spec #'s. especially air infilitration. Any window can perform right off the factory line. The question is how does the window perform after it is installed. Remember the ratings you see are for brand new windows that are tested in a perfect environment. After the window is exposed to the elements is when the real test begins. Look for Companys who have Hallmark certification. This means that the NFRC & WDMA have free reign to test a companys window at any time. There have been cases where the Window tested is not the same window that actually goes in your home. There is a ratings race going on today that is kind of like the horsepower race that happened in the auto industry in the 60's and 70's. Companys fighting to make the most powerful cars, but they were not neccessaraly high quality, in fact most were terrible.

Also keep in mind that a ton of Vinyl Window companies have come and gone in a matter of a few years. A Warranty is only as good as the Company who backs it. A lot of people purchased windows with lifetime warranties only a couple of years ago who now have no warranty at all.

I am not very familiar with the High end vinyl companies. I dont know what they are doing that seperates them from the rest of the market. Maybe someone can talk a little bit about that. Is it the vinyl itself that they are improving? As far as energy efficiency is concerned, vinyl is a good insulator and is not a big conductor so its very efficient. More efficient than Aluminum at least. My contention is that once the window is exposed to the real world it will not perform for very long.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:06AM
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Superior design, components, and construction. Just like anything else, there are poor examples and great examples. Your comment about lab conditions being different than installed conditions is true (proper installation is a critical aspect ), however it is simple logic that a product that performs better in a lab will also perform better once installed given he equal conditions. Being in the window industry, I'm sure you are aware of all of the dishonest and/or misleading sales tactics, sales gimmicks, etc that pervade the window biz, so independently tested performance ratings are really the only clear and unbiased way to compare.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:04AM
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Thanks for everyone's input. It's been interesting and a bit overwhelming trying to learn about the window world.

Quick question about Marvin windows: The rep said that insert DH are possible w/out disturbing the transoms. So, are the insert windows just as good as doing a full tear out? These are the Clad Ultimate DH inserts, if that makes a difference.

He said where the sliding patio doors are, we need to replace the transoms. Since you guys know about installation, etc, how likely is it that existing shutters and blinds would then fit the new windows?

He also priced out the Clad Sliding Door...what's the difference between that and the Clad French Sliding door? Any performance differences or just aesthetic?

Here's a picture of the sliding patio doors, if that helps.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 7:22AM
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Hello RKB21,

Where do you live? Not your street address of course!!! What state?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:13AM
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"Being in the window industry, I'm sure you are aware of all of the dishonest and/or misleading sales tactics, sales gimmicks, etc that pervade the window biz"

Agreed. I will give you the best example of this i have come across

A salesman selling Andersen was competing against a local Viny window manufacturer who was offering Tri-pane glazing. Of course the Andersen is not available in Tri-pane. The Andersen rep told the homeowner that since he wears glasses he would not be able to see through a tri-pane window. Something about light refraction. The Owner of the vinyl window company was so angry that he picked up the customer drove him to his factory and made him look through the Window.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:31AM
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window_mike: we're in missouri.

I would really like to hear if anyone has any answers to the Marvin window questions I had in my post.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:58AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


HomeSealed address a bunch of your discussion points but vinyl, as is the case with composites and fiberglass, have come a long way.

Any of the commonly referenced brands you will see on here are supremely engineered and all of the manufacturers belong to a certification institution of merit that checks the windows for correctness in production.

When it comes to the point of sleazy sales tactics, I would put RBA up there as one of the worst if I were going to make a general commentary about how a particular company (especially a subsidiary of such a large one) conducts itself.


Inserts are just fine if you don't mind a bit of glass loss.

Millions of insert windows have been done successfully and without issue of the last 10 years.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:53AM
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@rbk: As WoW mentioned, inserts are perfectly fine. On the blinds and shutters, they should be able to be retained, but it will depend on the manner of installation as well as how/where they are mounted. That is something that needs to be discussed specifically with your installer. The same can be said for the transoms. Depending on the product that you order, there are options to reduce the height and retain that horizontal mullion, or some very brave installers might even be willing to "de-mull" those units, but there would be a high likelihood of damage. My advice would be to either downsize the door to retain them, or just replace them with the door. I prefer the latter.
A french door will typically be more $$$.

@Window Mike: YIKES! That is a story for the ages,lol.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 10:52AM
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WoW: we have so much light and so many windows that I don't really think the glass loss would be too much...I guess we'll find out :)

Homesealed: I think I need some clarification on your advice. I thought if these transoms and doors are custom sized, shouldn't they be the same height/width as the existing when they tear it out and replace them. Or, am I completely off base? I think I am lost on the install part of this so I don't understand. Thanks for your patience, in advance :)

I figured that the price of the french sliding doors are more but I didn't know if there was any benefit efficiency wise.

The blinds are put up with three small brackets.

Here are a couple of pics of the blinds on the sliding door and the shutters on the transoms:


    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:38PM
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If you are replacing everything size on size, then yes everything should theoretically be able to be re-used. That, said, it will be imperative to make sure that you contractor knows your expectations in that regard, BEFORE he orders the materials. What I was suggesting before was the possibility of a "quasi-insert" install on the door where that horizontal mull would be left in place. The more I think about it though, I'd really recommend replacing the transoms along with the door.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:50PM
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Homesealed: Thanks for the explanation! The Marvin rep seemed to think we could re-use the blinds and the shutters on the patio doors/transoms.

So, I have bids from Marvin, Kolbe and Soft-lite Imperial LS. I'm waiting on Andersen and the other company that does the Soft-lite Elements.

Should I start another thread for the quotes, or just keep them going here? I will post once I have them all.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:33PM
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I don't know the proper "forum etiquette" for that, but this one is getting rather long ;) .... Either way, post whatever you come up with and we'll give you some additional input :)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Just curious, how did the Marvin & Kolbe quotes compare. Where i am Marvin is typically 10% higher but it varies by region.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Inserts are fine if your original windows were installed really well and there are no air leaks etc. around the old frames.

In my case, I'm dealing with a 100 year old home. 30 odd years ago someone came along and did aluminum insert windows. So they hauled out the double hung sashes and slapped aluminum inserts in the cavity.

What they of course missed was the fact that the original wood windows were installed with little to no insulation around the rough framing and the brick walls, and the wood window frame itself just sits nailed into the rough framing with little to no insulation (no spray foam in 1910).

Plus, there are massive cavities on either side of each window where the counter weights still reside. Nice big open unsealed uninsulated cavities.

On top of that, the lathe and plaster construction on the interior of the solid brick walls is such that there is a 1 inch cavity behind all the plaster (vertical strapping on the walls to which the horizontal lathe is nailed). So, all the nice cold air comes in around the old window frames and permeates the walls. Runs into the floor and ceiling joists and continues its journey putting a chill through the house.

Factor in a 3 story house with very tall 5-6 foot windows and you get a ton of heat loss.

In this case, a full tear-out is the only thing worth doing. Interior trim is all going, the counterweights will come out, loads of spray foam will go in around the rough framing to seal to the brick walls, and the new windows will be installed properly in the rough framing sealed up with more foam. Fresh trim inside and out.

Expensive yes, but the only reason to do this is to make the house more comfortable. The few dollars we might save in heating and cooling costs are irrelevant.

So again, if the current windows are installed well and you have no heat loss around them, inserts are fine.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 5:34PM
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torontoTim: We mostly feel air from the bottom of the whether the air is actually coming from the walls and somehow leaking through the window, I don't know. All I know is that the 9ft sliding patio door that we have will, on a windy day, have so much air leaking that the blinds will move. I guess there's no way to tell if someone did a good job on the insulation to the studs w/out removing everything...I wish there was an easy answer for me. We also have a TON of windows, which I love for the light, open feeling, but hate b/c we're having drafts everywhere.

window_mike: The Marvin bid was MUCH lower but it's not really comparing apples to apples b/c the Kolbe rep said we HAVE to do a full tear out of everything, including all windows, sliding doors and transoms, and replace it all. The Marvin rep said we could do inserts for the DH windows, keep the transoms on top of those windows, and then tear out the doors/transoms units. Marvin was 1/2 the price of Kolbe.

We had the Soft-Lite Elements rep out here today and he said that they could do inserts for the DH, keep the transoms on the windows and even keep the transoms on the sliding doors. He said that b/c their doors are a 'KD' unit, they don't need to worry about the transoms on top. They priced out very similar to the Imperial LS [maybe 10% more]...but they are doing a triple pane, ultra S glass package upgrade for free for the next month.

The Andersen rep came out today...He said basically the same thing the Marvin rep did: inserts for DH, keep those transoms, the door/transom units need to come out totally.

I think I'll start a new thread once I have the different quotes. Any thoughts so far on what I wrote just now???

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 6:03PM
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He also priced out the Clad Sliding Door...what's the difference between that and the Clad French Sliding door? Any performance differences or just aesthetic?

Less wood on the Clad Sliding Door (3" all around versus 4 3/4" stiles and top rail and 8 1/8" bottom rail on the French). Clad Sliding French has a slightly higher DP rating.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:04PM
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@torontotim: there are reasons to do a full tearout over insert, but efficiency is not one of them. Number one, in a 100 year old balloon framed home you probably have 0 insulation in any of your walls, so I'm not sure that uninsulated weight pockets should be a huge concern. Secondly and more importantly, those areas can be insulated without requiring a full tearout. There are access panels in those jambs to insulate the weight pockets, and the wall cavities around the windows and throughout the home can be dense packed with cellulose insulation. If you are feeling really ambitious, you can even remove the casing, foam it, and reinstall.
The thing is, a full tearout in that age/type of home will almost always require all new woodwork which is is downright criminal in most cases, as they just don't make it like they used to.... And you'll pay an arm and a leg to even get close.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Eastbay10: Thanks for the info on the marvin French sliding door. I guess I should find out the price difference. The French does look nicer but since we have a white interior, I don't know if that will matter. IMO, the wood grain ones do look richer with wider stiles/rails.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 9:28PM
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