Replacement windows in Austin, TX

angiebangieMay 22, 2014

We are looking into replacing the aluminum Allenco (mostly fogged) windows in our 1977 home. The primary reason for replacing is to save on energy costs, secondarily for aesthetics and functionality. Our home has all windows on the north and south sides of the home on a heavily treed lot with very little direct sunlight. A door-to-door company named Energy One gave us their sales pitch this morning. A second company recommended going with either Anderson 100 or Don Young thermal broken aluminum for significantly less.

I have several questions and am hoping to get answers and opinions from the knowledgable window people on this forum.

First, we are pretty set on the outer color being dark bronze. Our home is stone, and white windows look terrible ( offense to anyone who has them). While beige would blend in and look nice, the bronze adds a nice detail. I would prefer the interior color to be either bronze or white, absolutely no beige.

Second, is there a huge difference in energy savings with triple pane vs. double pane? I'm getting a 50/50 response from the 4 window people I have talked to. Are the ones who are telling me that triple pane is much better doing so because of their profit margins?

We would prefer a window that can be cleaned from the inside of the house. Two weeks ago there was an unfortunate incident while cleaning second story windows that involved a 22 ft ladder and my big toe. I would love to avoid a repeat incident.

We are also concerned about warranties. The first company (Alside, although the warranty is serviced through the retailer and not Alside) offers a lifetime warranty including glass breakage with a transferrable 30 year if we sell the home. I am concerned by the measly 10 year Andersen warranty and the limited Don Young warranty.

Will replacing our old windows really reduce our energy costs? I'm assuming that the fogged aluminum windows we have aren't great, but how much worse are they than the replacements we are looking at? I have a Sunrise dealer coming out on Saturday, but he is one of the dealers focusing on triple panes.

Thanks for any advice you can give.

This post was edited by angiebangie on Thu, May 22, 14 at 22:45

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I've heard it said that replacement windows can save 5-15% of your monthly energy bill; I've also heard it said that with quality windows it could take 20 years to break even considering window cost and installation.
I've seen articles that say it is much more important to caulk and do other stuff to prevent air leakage.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 4:48PM
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We have caulked from top to bottom and are also looking into getting more attic insulation.

Another question....when comparing ratings, which do we pay more attention to for the Central Texas region: R, U, or SHGC?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 7:52PM
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Double pane with a good low solar low-e is sufficient for Texas, no need for triple pane. The SHGC doesn't change enough for the additional expense and if they do add a coating on the third pane of glass it will make the windows dark, reducing the amount of light coming in.

In Austin, the most important rating is the SHGC and the Air Leakage rating.

Alside makes low-end to mid grade products. Sunrise is far superior.

For bronze windows, Don Young's thermally-broken aluminum is a great choice.

Not sure where lucille got the idea of "breaking even". Windows shouldn't be purchased to break even. We don't purchase new flooring, countertops, siding, or anything else to break even. Purchase windows because you want new windows and for the added efficiency they will provide.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:55PM
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My concern with the Don Young is the shorter warranty and lack of glass breakage coverage. How is their warranty claim service?

We are currently comparing Alside's Mezzo line and ratings to the info that we found on Sunrise online (haven't seen that window in person yet). Alside's SHGC .21 and Sunrise is .28. Given that number, what would make us choose Sunrise over Alside?

Thank you for your help, I really appreciate having an "insider's" view.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:40PM
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Warranties are written to protect the manufacturer, not the consumer. Therefore, what's covered are generally things that they expect will very rarely occur. Glass breakage protection is nice when it's included, but very rarely used.

Don Young's warranty is only shorter in that it is very limited for transfer purposes. As long as you own the home, it's just like anyone else's warranty (other than glass breakage).

As to the SHGC, they will both be in the .19 - .21 range, if they are built with the low solar low-e. The rating you quoted for Sunrise isn't.

Sunrise enjoys a better reputation in the industry for quality materials and construction. None of Alside's products are worth $14,000.00 for 18 windows. The company offering them is a franchise operation out of Ohio who uses canvassing and the wow factor of triple pane glass in an area where few other contractors are offering it to get homeowners to overpay for a very average window.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:25PM
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I think Ultra Windows covered it all right there.

Good post and information Ultra Windows.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:07AM
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Thank you for your replies. Sunrise dealer is coming to show us windows this morning, and hopefully we will have a price On the DY this afternoon as well.

I know it doesn't get terribly cold in this area as compared to the rest of the country, but I am concerned about loosing heat in the winter to the DY windows because of the R. Is that a valid concern or is the loss in efficiency when compared to a good vinyl window negligible? I know they are both energy star windows.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:18AM
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While I think it's negligible, your concerns are not without some merit, as the TBA window will have a higher U-Value.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:21AM
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Ugh, this is getting more complicated and tiring. The Sunrise dealer was very pushy. I had to use my "ugly voice" (that's what my kids call it) when he started trying to pin me down and give him an answer. He was very pushy with the triple pane vanguard even after I called him before he came over and told him we had decided on going double pane. He offered me either the triple pane vanguard or the essentials. I asked he could get me some numbers on the Sunrise Standard and he said that there wasn't a line between the vanguard and essentials. I swear I read that on another thread, but perhaps I'm now completely nuts?

Another perplexing thing.....we have 3 openings that currently have two double hungs in each opening. Every other window person we have talked to said that we could cut costs by putting a slider in those openings. This guy completely nixed that and wouldn't even consider quoting it. We also have two huge openings (105x70) in the living room. His only solution was to continue with the three double hungs that are currently there, while all of the other companies have come up with a variety of ways to cut the number of windows in the opening with combinations of either pictures and other windows, or by combining sliders. I really wanted to find a way to make sunrise work because of all I've read on this forum, but the dealer is difficult to work with.

ETA: the openings in the windows in which the sunrise dealer feels that sliders will not work are 58x70.

This post was edited by angiebangie on Fri, May 23, 14 at 13:25

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 1:12PM
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No, you're not nuts, you are correct. Between the Essentials and the Vanguard is the basic Sunrise line. The dealer you spoke with probably doesn't have access to it though. I would never recommend doing business with a contractor that makes you that uncomfortable.

While the contractors recommending sliders in the large openings are saving you money, they are also leading you down the road of future aggravation with sliders that large. That's not much smaller than a patio door, but without the heavy duty roller system to provide easy operation. I doubt you'd be happy with them in two or three years.

The Apex salesman isn't doing you any favors between the brand he sells (Alside) and the configuration he recommended.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 6:32PM
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Oh wow, thanks for your opinion on that. I wrongly assumed that since 3 different contractors mentioned it and priced it out that way that it would be ok. What would be the next least expensive way to do that opening? One of them is downstairs, so I would not be completely opposed to having to go outside to clean that one. However, the other two are on the second story. Being able to clean them from inside the house is pretty important.

This post was edited by angiebangie on Fri, May 23, 14 at 21:22

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Did you come to a decision on this?

I too have an 70's austin stone house with (failing) original aluminum windows & am having a bear of a time figuring out which way to jump.

I have looked for the more modern looking bronze exterior, so far andersen 400 series might fit the bill.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Actually, we just decided today. My little chat with Randy was incredibly helpful, and I'm absolutely calling him for windows if I ever move back to Houston.

We are going with the soft-lite classic, although we are still undecided on color. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to go with white instead of a painted finish. The window itself has a lifetime warranty, so it seems silly to me to invest in a great window that I fully expect to never replace on my own dime, only to have to replace it (albeit far, far in the future) because the paint faded or chipped. If they still had a lifetime warranty on the painted finish it would be a no-brainer.

With that being said, if we decided that the bronze color was the most important thing to us, we would have gone with the Don Young, but only the single hung windows because of the increased air infiltration of the double hung and the sliders.

I'm about to print out several pictures of my house on my home printer and "paint" different colors of windows and trim on the house. I want to have an idea of what it will look like so I don't go into shock when my beautiful bronze is gone.

AFAIK, there is only one soft-lite dealer in the entire area. He has been very nice to work with, and even called soft-lite to tell them that I had a hard deadline of July 1 (daughter will be in the hospital for most of July). They offered to make my windows priority so that I will have them in plenty of time.

This post was edited by angiebangie on Wed, Jun 4, 14 at 8:13

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Good follow up and goodness knows if you are ever in Houston Texas or other parts, you would be well served to call Randy at Ultra Windows.

Great guy as you clearly noted.

Good luck with the project and let us know how it turns out.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 7:14AM
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I have heard good things about soft lite. Glad you have made progress.

Question though, soft lite's website appears to have bronze as an exterior color listed? From the above post it looks like you have changed your mind on bronze? I'd be interested to know your rational for this choice... thanks!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 9:50AM
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In paragraph 2 in the above post. I still think the bronze looks best on my home. If you look at "Texas Limestone" exteriors on Houzz, a majority of them have bronze windows. If I were sure we were going to be moving in the next 5-10 years I would do bronze and let someone else deal with the potential fading, cracking, and peeling paint. However, I want to die in this house. If I'm going to spend money on windows with a lifetime warranty, I don't want to have to replace them in 15-20 years because of peeling paint. It may last for 20 years or longer, but it certainly won't last as long as the rest of the window. At some point it will have to be dealt with.

I printed out several pictures of my home yesterday and have been playing with crayons and trying out different trim colors that will work better with the white windows. Although I do love the bronze, I think I can paint my trim in such a way that the white will look fine. I think I'm going with a slightly off-white color that will be close enough to both the white windows and the creamy white of the limestone to make everything flow nicely.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Sorry to keep prying, but this question is very much on my mind & this thread is very helpful!

Are you saying that all of the bronze exterior windows you have looked at are painted? I checked out the andersen 400 woodwrights yesterday at the mirror gallery on 71. The bronze exterior is fibrex clad (not painted). Just FYI.

Are you using your own installer?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:21PM
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Yes, all of the vinyl ones we looked at were painted or laminated. None of them have an extruded bronze, although I think there would be a good market for it if they did. We only looked at vinyl and Don Young TBA. I'm not familiar with the Anderson 400. I did see an Anderson 100, but it was single hung only and had a 10 year warranty.

I enabled email in my profile, so feel free to email if you need more specific answers. Pry away!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Am I allowed to say the name of the installer I am using? I don't want to break any forum rules.

If you have a subscription to Angie's list, it's at the very end of the list.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 4:09PM
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thanks for the reply, very helpful. I think we are going to try the andersen 400 route. best of luck on your windows.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 10:42PM
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After printing out pictures of the front of the house and coloring in different windows and trim, we have backtracked and have ordered bronze windows for the front of the house. The white windows just wouldn't have looked right without painting the trim, and I absolutely will not have time for that for the rest of the summer. Hopefully the fact that our windows one really get any direct sunlight will slow the fading of the paint for many, many years.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 8:33AM
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Hi. Thanks angiebangie and gang for going through this process.

I too am looking at new windows. Seemed like an easy process (tho time consuming) at first glance a 1 1/2 weeks ago, I chose installers and plus a local area mfctr to speak with thinking I would be getting the diverse windows I thought would be good after some research on mfctrs & contractors (angies, yelp, bbb, etc).

I mistakenly thought my questions, their mini-me window samples, technical information, warranty, and bid would help me narrow down to a couple of windows where researching the detailed window specs at places like NHRC, etc, would help me decide. Not how it worked.

Only 1 of 3 bring came w/ sample window & glad b/c made me realize Milgard Styleline was not for me. Tuscany looked a little better, but saw more contoured or wood-looking windows in Lowes that were aesthetically pleasing (Pellas, but wasn't/dont want Pellas for reasons usually cited).

I want to balance looks with energy and cost since will look at them another 15-20 years...not all or nothing...hadn't expected sooo much vinyl & so little glass....losing almost triple width of frame (which means losing 2/3's all the way around).

My last guy was a HIGHLY rated construction company installer who's site says Don Young along with Simonton. The owner forgot if set appt and called when appt was. Ten minutes later his right hand young man who acts on his behalf showed up (works my part of town). No samples. Said nothing about what I was getting or why suggesting. As leaving, I asked manufacturer. Simonton. What series? 5050. Says need 5500 if want lifetime warranty with labor. Bid to come last night. Guess later. Doesn't matter after that.

Also, the last guy said something about my vinyl when I asked because Ringer windows' owner mentioned and could drive up cost...but no real numbers on how much and he was trying to say something that didn't seem correct which would maybe cause major price increase...but not $2000. Ouch! (I am no expert, but pretty good at construction...I may not use them..but doesn't mean he isn't correct...I don't like big $ surprises).

Really disillusioned. Feel like having to start all over again.

Don young doesn't warranty labor which is most expensive part of bids I have been getting. Unless I misunderstand the warranty- your installer will be your warranty for labor if they provide it.

The two-tone coloring is not always available from what I remembered. But now need to consider since 3/4 of house is stone, that is a very good point angiebangie. :-)

I saw you had a hard time anagiebangie with Sunrise dealer. I haven't found one yet. Would you be willing to share who was helpful or not...even sunrise? Seems like you did a lot of research (can email).

All ears here or by email for anyone with really good experiences and windows to suggest that look nice...possibly less vinyl, but decent efficiency, decent leakage ratings, and visibility ratings. (Sunrise was "said" to have really good visibility ratings compared to Soft-lites (darkness vs light). Apparently you don't have to sacrifice one for the other from what I have read...but is just reading.

Apparently I have gone about this wrong. I just want new, nice looking windows with great warranty...mid-upper may be fine...price is one of many factors; not rich.

Ringer windows of Taylor,TX- great reviews. "Seems" like good product on first look. Anyone know anything about them?

Permit- I really need tempered glass in places, and do I need to pull a permit? Everyone says no. I know city is a pain, wants a permit for about everything, but not always for the better. (can send email..don't want to cause anyone trouble. can say what is important from code standpoint..dont want redflag down road for other work..inspectors have right to reflag other work according to architect friend).

Appreciate any feedback to help me through process. :-)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2014 at 2:09PM
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so sunrise does not have labor included in their warranty either. So what do you do when you want to really good window with Labor included. the labor to install is very expensive so far on my bids.... Hate to think I'd have to pay another $300 to replace a window that's defective. Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Generally, the only manufacturers that offer a labor warranty are two types:

1. Franchises that charge an arm and a leg for their product and can wrap up the cost of a warranty in the price of the product (Marvin Infinity, Pella, Renewal by Andersen).

2. Low-end vinyl manufacturers that make an inferior product and know it, but because they also perform their own installations, know that consumers can be sold on the "all in one warranty service" concept.

So to get the manufacturer to cover a labor warranty, you can either pay for it in spades up front, or you can pay for it over time with a compromised window.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2014 at 4:24PM
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All n especially you, angiebangie, since is your post...sorry for the above novel. Hopefully this final chapter helps others in their hunt.

Thanks so very much Randy for your help and advice to give guidance when I'm not even in your area.... It gave me renewed faith. If I were in your area I certainly would hire you! :-) :-)

To summarize some points (correct me if I messed up):
-One is fortunate to find a contractor who is willing to warranty labor on a window that has failed due to the manufacture issues.

- better quality window manufacturers commonly do not give labor warranties but lesser made window manufacturers "may" in order to get my business.

-If labor is not covered n mfctr priblem occurs...take guesswork out n ask how much installer charges to at wosed case, replace a window; may only be $150.

-Walk away from anyone that doesnt feel like a great fit.

-Consider taking a break when over-loaded to make best decision.

-Consider picking a great installer with mediocre window over picking a great window with not very good feeling installer.

My own 2 cent thought: 2 installers possibly posted more mfctrs to get more hits on web when really lean on one mfctr (common practice for Austin pain docs do this for procedures) ask about mfctr n line wanting before making appointment.

I will not turn down any window suggestions, great installers for Austin area, nor other advice via email.

Angiebangie, ....on angies...i couldnt understand where near bottom meant...did u mean alphabetically?

Also, I can see that you put an awful lot of thought and research into your window selection angieb and I hope only good times ahead for you! Keep us posted. :-)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2014 at 5:49PM
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