Windows: Good, Better, Best, Overpriced

windows123May 8, 2014

Looking to replace about 15 double hung and 4 casement windows in our 30 year old home. We will be here another 30 years. I don't mind paying for quality if I never have to replace windows again, so that eliminates a "good" window in my view. For discussion purposes assume all the brands I mention have comparable performance numbers. What I am looking for is feedback on which ones are well made (design, materials workmanship) and therefore more likely to be long lasting. If warranty is factor in your opinion/experience that would be good to know too.

Andersen Renewal seems to have a well made, Fibrex (hollow core wood/resin material) product that I would put in the better to best category. But comments here and elsewhere say its overpriced. The pitch was not hard sell but it was almost $27K.

Interstate Windows made with Compositwood, a solid core resin product seem well made and are similar to Renewal�s Fibrex, but $10K cheaper. They also have a vinyl window for about $15K cheaper than Renewal. Can�t find a lot of feedback on them though.

Okna is a name that gets many good reviews on this forum. Although they seem to be only vinyl made and do not offer a composite/resin material. No quote on them yet.
Thoughts, comments, experience with any of these and recommendations appreciated

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mmarse1

First, Renewal is average based on performance numbers. Their Ufactor is only a .30 or .29 . Also, they have a rather high air leakage number.
That fibrex material they offer is mostly vinyl and some wood flower( saw dust). That is a fact. They train their salesman to spin the truth about vinyl.

Okna is a very well made/ solid window, especially the 800 " Envirostar". Its also a very sharp looking window.
Their Ufactor is much better than anything renewal has to offer. They have a Ufactor of .26 on their double pane glass,, so its much more energy efficient than renewal. Also, the Okna air leakage rate is MUCH better/ air tight than renewal; its a .01 , which is the lowest in the industry, try asking renewal about their air leakage rate and you will get a song and a dance, they will just say it was tested and passed but NEVER give an actual number. Both Okna and renewal were tested for air, water, and structural integrity by the same rating agency but yet Okna reveals their actual results while renewal does not.
Another fact, the okna has a structural rating of 60 while renewal is 30 or 35 if im not mistaken. Thats almost twice as good as renewal.
Okna does also offer a composite called Starmark which is also very solid.
That said, there are very poor quality vinyl windows. Believe it or not, Andersen offers one of the lowest quality windows in the industry called Silverline and so does Pella in my opinion. Stick with high quality vinyl offerings if you want maximum energy efficiency, long term durability, and looks. Stay away from MI , alside, and the other low end stuff.

This post was edited by mmarse1 on Fri, May 9, 14 at 8:33

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 8:27AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

Can't add much to that Masterext.

Perfect advice and summary all around.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:44AM
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csk1007

I've installed a number of Simonton Vinyl windows, and couldn't be happier with them. The vinyl framing is pretty big, but the windows are great.

I saved some money by going directly to a wholesaler in my area and then hiring a window contractor to do the installation.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:07PM
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mmarse1

No offense to csk1007 but the OP seems to be more quality centric whereas simonton is basically an average window with average performance numbers. Simonton has a very bulky frame and a high air leakage number( .17) which is almost as high as andersen. I just think simonton needs to totally redesign their windows.
Okna , soft lite ( elements), Sunrise ( vanguard), kensington Quantum 2 are some higher end names.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:20PM
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mmarse1

No offense to csk1007 but the OP seems to be more quality centric whereas simonton is basically an average window with average performance numbers. Simonton has a very bulky frame and a high air leakage number( .17) which is almost as high as andersen. I just think simonton needs to totally redesign their windows.
Okna , soft lite ( elements), Sunrise ( vanguard), kensington Quantum 2 are some higher end names.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:32PM
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windows123

Mmarse1, thanks this is the type of insight I am looking for as well as the names of some other quality windows. Is it your experience that vinyl versus a composite makes a better window? Okna's website referred me to a local company that does not mention name brands but does have Okna windows pictured. They also have an Angie's list B rating and a reputation for high pressure lengthy husband and wife sales pitches. We do not want to sit thru that, just a quote. Is this how the replacement window biz sells? can I get Oknas another way, maybe direct and have my own installer? Thanks for the good info.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:23PM
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mmarse1

Window123
What state are you in ?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:46AM
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windows123

Pennsylvania

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 9:46AM
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bpchiil

Pennsylvania - you are in OKNA's backyard. You will have to find an OKNA dealer as OKNA will not sell a consumer direct.

One way to avoid a lengthy sales pitch - be well informed / educated before they show up, or tell them straight up that they have 30 minutes to talk about their windows. After all it is your time, money, and house.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:08AM
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windows123

Thanks BPChill. Besides OKNA, several other better brands were listed that I will checkout. Lastly, has anyone any experience with or knowledge of Interstate Windows, also made in PA.? My one contractor is pushing them as better than Renewal price and material wise. I will checkout their performance but wondered if anyone had knowledge of how their construction and durability are compared to other better quality windows like OKNA, Softlite etc.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:57AM
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fenmaster

I mostly cover SE PA, NJ and DE
We have installs going on in Lancaster and the Poconos.
I will sell the windows only.
I handle most of the high performance brands mentioned.
You would be happy with Interstate but Okna/HiMark would be a better value and performer.

theWindowNerd...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 4:01PM
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windows123

Fenmaster. What would the approximate cost differential be for OKNA compared to Interstate. I am not far from Lancaster in Harrisburg

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:01PM
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fenmaster

Do you want to compare the vinyl to vinyl?
Provide me with an average size DH that you have with the options desired and I will run a number for you.
Thx,
theWindowNerd.....

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:25PM
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windows123

fenmaster
Can you compare vinyl to vinyl and compsite to composite? Most of my windows are DH 32x 60, not including the casement windows. Option-wise nothing fancy, white inside and out, white hardware, screens, double pane.
Thanks

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:04PM
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freqz

Renewal by Andersen was a multiple of 3 over our bid from Pella and a multiple of 4 over the local company we eventually signed with.

*Very* high pressure sales pitch which included that "This price is only good today" BS. Also: refused to leave us with a detailed quote-- he wrote the total and his phone number on a scrap of paper and left it with us.

After having sat through that I'll never buy an Andersen product on general principle.

Think about it: will RbA's windows really be 50% to 100% better than the other options? Because that's what they're quoting you.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:22PM
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Positively_Patty

"They also have an Angie's list B rating and a reputation for high pressure lengthy husband and wife sales pitches. We do not want to sit thru that, just a quote. Is this how the replacement window biz sells?"

I have really been struggling with this since looking for windows in this house. many of the companies won't even come to the house to give me a quote without my husband. (I'm perfectly capable of getting quotes, researching things, narrowing down companies and then sharing the info with DH to make a choice together. That's how we like it because we would rather his off work time together and with our kids than getting quotes which I can do while he is at work.)

One of the 3 companies I have had come (after verifying DH would not have to be there) really pressured me on the phone reminder to have him there and when they came they didn't give me a quote till I called asking for it - I've since learned not to do that.

So yes, I think this is how many replacement window biz sell.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Karateguy

the Interstate window is solid, but I've always been confused on the warranty and never gotten a straight answer. The real wood veneer scares me. Is it part of the 15 year "laminate" warranty (if so that is not impressive), or is it excluded completely by the line that says "wood components in all style windows and doors... are specifically excluded from this warranty"?
For me, if I want an actual wood interior with a crappy warranty that is what I'll buy. The synthetic stainable laminates are preferred.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 6:10PM
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