Best replacement windows in MN??

minnesota4x4May 3, 2014

We are needing to replace all 13 windows in our 15 year old home and would appreciate any help or advise.

I have been researching for over 6 months what manufactures are the best and which ones to steer clear of. I have also gotten a bid from Soft-lite and liked the windows very much but I can not pay $18,000 for 13 windows. That price seems crazy. The quote was for the Soft-lite Imperial LT dual pane window.

So now we would like to have a contractor we know and trust do the installation. But here in Minnesota it seems like we are limited on the windows that are available. I have read a lot of the feedback on the good vinyl or fiberglass window manufactures but many of them I can't find a place to purchase here in MN.

Ultimately we are looking for dual pane, vinyl or fiberglass windows with the lowest U-factor. Does anyone have any advice on what are our best options for windows here in Minnesota? Or where my contractor could get good windows?

Thank you all for you help and time!

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eastbay10

Marvin Integrity is manufactured next door in North Dakota and owned by a Minnesota company. They have tri-pane offerings for the low U factor that you are looking for. Andersen is also a Minnesota company with a vinyl line manufactured in Texas as well as the 100 Series Fibrex (Vinyl and Wood) and the Fiberglass A Series. There are quality Canadian fiberglass companies to the north of you so you don't have a shortage of local options. Visit showrooms and find one that you like and can afford. Take your time and you won't be sorry. Don't let anyone hurry your decision.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 4:01PM
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bpchiil

$1300/window seems quite high. Yes SoftLite is a good window, but not that at that price -IMO.

Sunrise windows are available in Minnesota - another top tier manufacturer of vinyl but I believe they only sell to select contractors / dealers.

You might have to leave your options open as to who does the install.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 4:02PM
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toddinmn

Polaris, Soft-Lite and Sunrise all can be purchased through dealers in MN. You may have to call more than 1 since not all will. Soft-lites mid level windows are available quite readily in the big city.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:58PM
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minnesota4x4

I am currently contacting local Building Supply companies to see which brands each offers.

From the research I have done so far; Marvin, Great Lakes and maybe Sunrise (if I can find a place to purchase them) are available at the local building supply companies here in MN.

Does anyone have any opinion of which of these is better than the other? And when it comes to the warranties, would it be smarter/easier to work with a local window manufacturer?

Maybe I am over thinking all this but there is a lot of info to consider AND this is a lot of money to spend.

Thank you all for all you help and input!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:28AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Depends in large part what your decision criteria are as to what window is better.

Performance, Sunrise. Looks, many like Marvin.

Really depends on what you want and what is important.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:18AM
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annkh_nd

I put in Marvin Infinity replacement windows 3 years ago, about $7000 for 8 windows. I did the inside trim work myself (jamb extensions and casings) - I think that saved me around $1800.

They are fiberglass, but the inside is wood grain, and they came stained to match the woodwork in the house. I wanted the wood look (but not wood), and this was the only company I found that made exactly what I wanted. There are dealers scattered around MN - Duluth, Fargo, Bemidji, Minneapolis, Rochester, Mankato. I'm in North Dakota.

I love these windows. The day after they were installed, my son mowed the lawn - and I thought the mower must be at least 3 houses away. In addition to the quiet, the thermal performance has been terrific - and as you know, this winter put them to the test!

Good luck with your search.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:13PM
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fenmaster

You should see if you can get in touch with Todd in MN who posted above.
Great guy will be able to help you the best.

theWindowNerd....

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:15PM
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minnesota4x4

I am currently contacting local Building Supply companies to see which brands each offers.

From the research I have done so far; Marvin, Great Lakes and maybe Sunrise (if I can find a place to purchase them) are available at the local building supply companies here in MN.

Does anyone have any opinion of which of these is better than the other? And when it comes to the warranties, would it be smarter/easier to work with a local window manufacturer?

Maybe I am over thinking all this but there is a lot of info to consider AND this is a lot of money to spend.

Thank you all for all you help and input!!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Karateguy

You mention in your original post that performance is a top concern. If so, the top vinyl choices will be the best choices for you , Softlite Elements, Sunrise Restorations and Vanguard, Okna/Himark, Energy Wall by Polaris are the elite choices and all should be available in some capacity in MN. If appearance carries a little more weight -as in a wood interior-, then the INtegrity and Marvin in general comes into play. Very high end window, beautiful and elegant, just not a great performer in comparison to the vinyl units.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:20PM
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toddinmn

Marvin's will be the easiest to find since most lumber yards carry them. Norandex and united building products will carry the Soft-lite Pro series which is a nice mid grade vinyl that is priced nice . The sunrise ,polaris and upper end soft-lite are harder to find and the pricing will probally vary a bit from dealer to dealer. Might be able to help more with a more precise location..

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 2:11AM
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fenmaster

toddinmn has shared some good info with you.
where are you located?
you have two very important decisions: the product selection, the installer choice.
I am going to share with you about the product selection and hope Todd will jump back in with installer choice guidelines and methods.
Three easy to read and compare items for product selection:
1. warranty... limited lifetime or lifetime, must be minimum of 20 year full seal failure warranty.
2. U value for dual pane low e argon .28 to .26 , if you do triple pane which is cost effective to do in your neck of the woods you are looking at .20, the lower the better.
3. AI, air infiltration, this is a tested and measured structural performance number that will tell you how leaky/drafty a window will be, AI.09 or less a must, the lower the better, preferred AI .05 or less.
Contact Todd.

theWindowNerd....

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:42AM
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minnesota4x4

We live in North Branch,MN. It is about an hour north of Minneapolis/St.Paul area.
We are going to go look at the Marvin lines, Integrity and Infinity, this weekend. I am hoping to find the Infinity, which I believe is fiberglass. We are looking for a window that is vinyl/fiberglass inside and out. And I think the Integrity only offers wood interiors.
It is also frustrating finding where to go and physically look at and compare different windows. And many of the local building supply stores are either closed on the weekend or only open until noon. You almost have to take a day of work to go and even find and look at the different windows.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:39PM
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eastbay10

Integrity has two lines, one with the fiberglass with a wood (Wood Ultrex)interior and the other which is solid fiberglass (Ultrex). The Integrity dealer should have both on display.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 9:46AM
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toddinmn

The integrity is commonly sold through many distributors and the Infinity is through a limited amount authorized dealers only and often commands a heftier price tag.If you are looking at double-hungs the Integrity is not among the better looking windows in the All Ultrex and why others will disagree I don't care for there wood version either, Minnesota Exteriors(MEI) would carry the Infinity and they are typically open till 4pm.
I would lean towards vinyl if a wood interior is not needed.It would we time well spent to go and look at windows considering the amount of money and the consequences of buying a poor product or one that did not meet your expectations.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:32AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Well said Todd.

Can't add anything to that that I don't agree with.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:50AM
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fenmaster

Todd do you service North Branch, MN?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 4:19PM
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toddinmn

Typically yes, but I am booked solid till at least November and shy away from soliciting on forums.
If the OP wanted I could sell Polaris windows for cash and carry..
I previously stateded United Building Products carries Soft-Lite but meant to ABC supply. Both Norandex and ABC do not have floor samples but may have something in the back room to show.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 7:12PM
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HomeSealed_WI

Isn't Polaris available through distribution in your neck of the woods Todd?
Either way, good advice above. A higher end vinyl choice sounds like what you are looking for 4x4.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 5:59PM
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toddinmn

They are available , there is a company(forget their name) in South Minneapolis that sells them, Universal Window Direct would sell them installed, maybe direct?.Other than those two I don't k ow of any.
If the OP is looking for casement windows the Soft-Lites in the lower lines is an excellent choice.
I would also consider the 100 series by Andsersen, but only in the casements.It is a nice composite window and has decent performance numbers and price,

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:11AM
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HomeSealed_WI

Incidentally, what are you installing these days Todd? I've never met anyone willing to wait 6 months for windows... Just curious.
We have a distributor around here that sells Polaris (either Richards or MBS, I forget) that is why I asked.
I second the recommendation on the Softlite casement on a budget. They use the same casement regardless of line, just with varying options and weatherstripping profiles.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:47PM
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toddinmn

Mostly installing Polaris vinyl with a few "affordable'' sash kits here and there.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 5:13PM
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