Milgard Aluminum windows experience?

LNJ14April 8, 2014

Hello All,

We are choosing windows for our 2nd floor addition. Initially we were considering Simonton DaylightMax vinyl, but then came across Milgard Aluminum (standard version). About 15 years ago, on our first floor, we replaced the old single-pane aluminum with 0.5in frame with chunky vinyl and lost A LOT of glass area (shocking!). So we're trying to minimize this loss of light. Hence, looking seriously at Milgard Aluminum. If we are to buy it, we will be getting the white painted version.

We are in SF Bay area, so the climate is mild (45F-80F with handful of days above and below that during the year), and we don't think the thermal inefficiency of the aluminum frame is going to affect us much. We know from experience the use of LowE dual pane glass is what made our house comfortable against harsh west sun, so... (we had a bedroom that went from single-pane aluminum to dual pane vinyl.. but the room still got way too hot at sunset until we changed the glass to lowE.. that made an incredible amount of difference)

I've scoured reviews on Milgard Aluminum here and elsewhere. but most were comparing with vinyl, or recommending the thermally-broken version, and not so much on the actual units and experiences with them.

Has anyone installed Milgard Aluminum sliding glass windows? How do you like them? do they rattle on windy days? I see draft numbers, but do you actually feel draft coming through? I've read some people commented on hard wind-driven rain some water ends up on the tracks, but we get that with our vinyl, so... unless the water actually overflows indoors onto the sill, i'm not all that concerned with that.

our windows are mostly 6-8ft wide, 4ft high single or double sliders.

so we're more interested in operability/use, finish, burrs, general construction quality, etc. The local window dealer had one demo unit but it was quite battered (and was a spliced model of aluminum and dark bronze frame, so not sure if the mitered seams were representative of the actual unit).

Thank you for any insight, comments on the Milgard Aluminum sliders...

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If you want to go back in a time machine to the 80's go with the Milgard aluminum. You'll be much more happy with the performance of the Simonton daylight max. Operates more smoothly and has better thermal numbers. The daylight max also is a little more slim than the average vinyl so you should be happy with that.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 6:46PM
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Windows on Washington

I have used the Milgard aluminum and found it to be okay. Did and do have some operational issues with a few windows.

Haven't seen the Simonton offering referenced above so I can't comment on that one.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:04AM
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Because you are looking at maximizing light, you might also look at fiberglass. The Integrity all ultrex is available in your area. Much better performance numbers than aluminum and with the new Title 24 ratings about to take effect in July just a better option. This is fiberglass or vinyl.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:22AM
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It was my impression fiberglass was very expensive..? It might be cost-prohibitive...

but having said that,

I just did a quick check on frame size comparison.. both Ultra and Integrity frame size isn't all that much different from Daylight Max (may be 1/4 inch thinner all the way around than Daylight Max). and Alumimum is still significantly thinner framed than all of them especially on the stationary pane.

The frame thickness for moving/screen for aluminum is comparable to the fiberglass.

But again, With our climate frame conduction energy efficiency is not much of an issue, so..

It's weird how when manufacturers can obviously make the frame narrower, they don't. especially for the stationary pane. It's almost as if they are forcing themselves to match the thicker frame of the moving pane... Or intentionally keep the thicker frame of wood...

This post was edited by LNJ14 on Wed, Apr 9, 14 at 14:46

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 1:52PM
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We live in the SF Bay Area too. Our house is Mid Century Modern style. When we reconstructed our house seven years ago, aluminum was what our architect spec'ed - for exactly the reasons you state. Very thin frames compared to other window styles to get maximum glass area.

We looked at Blomberg (pricey), Fleetwood (almost as pricey), and Milgard. Ended up with the Milgard with their SunCoatMAX glass. We have casements, fixed panes, sliders, and sliding doors. Overall, we are very happy with them.

The aluminum frames do conduct some heat/cold. Unfortunately when we bought ours, the thermally broken versions were not available in California. (Go figure...) I think they are now. It would be worth checking on.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:53PM
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One other thing: We have experienced zero problems with rattling or leaks. Our sliders are in bedrooms on the north side of the house though. So they don't get hit hard when it rains.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 9:59PM
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Windows on Washington

Aluminum is certainly less of an issue in those areas of the country as compared to the areas that deal with heating concerns (i.e. deep winters).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 9:31AM
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I agree with WoW, thermally-broken aluminum windows are a viable option in areas of the country where winters are mild. Aluminum is very strong and durable with some of the narrowest frames in the industry.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Thanks wws944 for sharing your experience. glad to hear that they seem solid.

TB Al are available now. not sure if the cost is really worth the performance difference (u-values for vinyl=0.3, standard aluminum=0.45, TB Aluminum=0.38), since you actually lose more in terms of frame thickness on the moving pane (TB aluminum has wider frames than standard aluminum.. so gets even closer to Daylight Max dimensions!). So if we opt for thermal performance, we'd probably end up with DaylightMax..

comparison quotes I got between Simonton DayLightMax and the Milgard aluminum was: standard aluminum is about 10% less than vinyl, TB aluminum is 30% more than vinyl.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:31PM
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Sounds like the vinyl is the way to go.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 12:48PM
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I would think looking at the u-values of the frame styles does not suffice. One probably needs to take some sort of product of the u-value and the exposed area of the frame. Since aluminum frames are much thinner than other styles, there is less area to conduct and radiate heat compared to other styles.

So I think looking at the whole window as a unit, the glass is much more significant than the frame. Especially here in the Bay Area - where outside temps rarely dip below freezing in the winter. Summer performance is much more important - especially on south and west facing walls. But again, with aluminum this is mostly a function of the glass - which is why I specified the SunCoatMAX glass. In retrospect I probably could have saved a few dollars, and gotten a little more ambient light, by not doing the SunCoatMAX glass on the north facing windows.

When we were rebuilding our house, we rented a place that had vinyl window frames. Did not like the look, and did not like the way they worked. (Don't remember the manufacturer.)

This post was edited by wws944 on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 13:31

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:30PM
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