Replacement windows with dark exterior color

wingalMarch 11, 2014

I've been reading many posts here about replacement windows. It's been an education. I'm talking with three local companies, each of which works with multiple manufacturers. I live in the Denver, CO metro area.

While I love the look of wood windows, which we have now, but we're most likely going with a good vinyl. We plan to stay in this house forever (hopefully 30+ years), so we want good windows.

So far, we're looking at Simonton Impressions, Ply-Gem Premium Series, Great Lakes (I know they're part of Ply-Gem) EcoSmart or UniFrame. I've done some looking into Vanguard, Okna, and Soft-Lite after hearing of them here. None of the folks we've talked to suggest them, mostly, they say, because they're not worth the extra cost compared to the others I mentioned.

From an aesthetics perspective, I really want a dark exterior color (brown or bronze, which we have now in the paint color of the existing wood windows) and a beige or wood interior color. It seems hard to find that combination, and when I do, the exterior color has a much shorter warranty.

The windows will have northern, southern, and eastern exposures here at 5,000+ feet.

Does anyone know of a good window that has a good dark exterior color that lasts?

I read on Soft-Lite site that they warrant their SureCoat colors for 10 years and that the color can be reapplied. Does anyone have experience with the reapplication process? Does it work well?

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Windows on Washington Ltd


No reason that you shouldn't be able to get that color combo. They would normally specify a beige window and they put the applied color on the outside in the case of a vinyl window.

I would put the opinions of other window suppliers aside or at least take with a grain of salt when they are representing product "X" and talking about product "Y".

At 5,000+ feet above sea level, the window will likely require capillary breathers for gas pressure stabilization unless they are manufactured at near that altitude.

There have been several threads about the Sunrise Restorations and Vanguard products being available out in that neck of the woods.

The color/finish technology is really good these days and reject quite a good bit of the suns radiant energy. Keeping it out of the paint, the resultant surface temperatures aren't bad at all and therefore the paint lives quite well.

This is not a finish you would normally be able to re-apply in the field (with the exception of touch ups) but I am also not sure that it will likely be required. We are seeing really good weatherization and fade data on these finishes.

Might be a good option to look at something like the Marvin Integrity or similar fiberglass if you want a dark exterior and wood interior.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Painting a vinyl window with a dark color could result in some issues. Certainly some vinyl brands paint their windows dark colors from the factory with special paint but the warranties aren't that great on them and you can't as easily repaint them yourselves after that 10ish year warranty. The amount of cost you add on with painting a vinyl you might as well move up to Fiberglass integrity or an aluminum clad product from Marvin or Kolbe and get a better finish warranty without the issues.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 4:15PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Fenestration Taylor,

We haven't seen any issues with them and we have some that are 10+ years old at this point. Very little fade and/or issues with temp.

The paints incorporate photo reflective agents in them now and and don't really warm up at all. It is a bit similar to a darker colored shingle being considered a "cool" shingle.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 4:32PM
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Thank you both for the info. I sounds like the dark color might be OK, though I'm still a little hesitant, especially with our intense sun here.

I've not really been looking at the fiberglass and only half seriously at the wood, given what I keep hearing about wood windows. I just love the look of wood, and it goes so well with our natural wood trim throughout the house.

While I'm concerned about adding yet more windows to consider (had no idea how mind-boggling this would be), are fiberglass windows really good? Someone told me that fiberglass is relatively new as a window material, and he wasn't too big on them at this stage.

So I have several questions:

- How long have fiberglass windows been around?

- Do they hold up as well as a good vinyl long term?

- Why would the dark exterior color be better in a fiberglass window?

- Sounds like Marvin and Kolbe make good ones. Any others?

- Are they much more expensive than a good vinyl?

- What else do I need to know about fiberglass?

Oh, gee, that ended up being a lot of questions. Any help much appreciated.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:20PM
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+1 to Wow's advice on all counts. I have installed the vinyl units that you mentioned and also the higher grade units, and I can say with certainty that the number of complaints received about "draftiness" , and cold air correlate directly with the air infiltration ratings of the windows. The first 3 that you mentioned are around .1cfm or more (the Great lakes is .19), while the Softlites, Okna, etc are down well below that, as low as .01 in their top offerings. Regarding price, that will vary by dealer. It is not at all out of the question that you may be able to get a Sunrise window for less than a Great lakes for instance. You'll have to shop around. I'd say that a reasonable price premium is worth it anyway, but again, it will vary by dealer.
On the comments regarding the vinyl color coating warranty that "isn't that great", that seems a bit funny then to recommend a product of which the entire unit is only a 10 yr warranty, no?
On fiberglass, it is a good material. The downside for me is that they typically come at a premium price, even though they don't offer much that a good vinyl choice does. The primary benefit is that you can paint the inyterior and exterior. The domestic fiberglass choices don't boast very impressive performance, although there are some Canadian models that are very good.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:02PM
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Just so I understand, are you saying that Vanguard, Okna, and Soft-Lite are really significantly better (enough that I'd really notice) in air infiltration as compared to the Simonton Impressions, Ply-Gem Premium Series, Great Lakes EcoSmart or UniFrame?

Of course, here in Colorado, we can get some really high winds, even down here on the plains (as opposed to in the foothills or mountains).

I guess I can't help but wonder if some of the measures (U, R, etc.) are so close that they're not really significantly different. Certainly, I plan to get at least double pane, some low E option, and will look at the ratings as I narrow things down.

I'm feeling at a loss on what to get.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:09PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

I think HomeSealed was just referencing some Simonton windows that he was pulling out as a result of complaints of air leakage.

I have surveyed homes where the complaints that the home was colder after new windows were put in.

Air infiltration is the dirty little secret of the industry and often overlooked.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:21AM
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