Are there quality mid-level vinyl windows?

LASouthernBelleJune 7, 2013

I have read and read on this forum and feel like I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on windows, yet I am still undecided in what direction I need to head for my windows. Thanks in advance for any insight, advice, or knowledge you share with me.

Location: North Louisiana (hot & humid summers, our winter consists of it hovering around freezing for a few weeks and that is about it)

House: New Construction. Country Cottage. 2300hsf. Single Story. Located in a pasture with a wooded view in rear. Very rural on family land (translation: this will be my house forever). The rear woods view is a priority.

Estimated # of Windows (still can be changed b/c the blueprints are not final... but I'm trying to make the decision of windows before they are final). These counts are for individual windows even though several will be installed double or triple. Sizes are approximate. I may knock the 72" windows down to 60" depending on price difference:

9 - 30x60
8 - 30x72
4 - 35x60
1 - 4x4 picture
1 - 4x4 casement (so really 2 - 2x4)
1 - 24x48
1 - 30x54
1 - 24x60
3 Transoms to go over Triple Windows
1 Transom to go over Double Windows

I am mainly considering a nice quality vinyl window that comes at a reasonable price. I'm just trying to figure out what that window is. I momentarily considered the Marvin Integrity (based on reading posts from this forum) but the vinyl window seems to be more efficient and with LA heat, this is more of a priority.

Most of the threads seem to throw around the same "premium high end" vinyl national brands. What would I be looking at ballpark price (materials only and/ or materials and install) for some of the windows described above?

Are there any mid-range vinyl brands that still have efficient quality products? If so, what would be these brands? What is the price difference (generally) between the mid-range and high-end vinyl?

It really boils down to that I'm looking for a high efficient all vinyl white quality window at the lowest price? I want to pay for the quality of the window not the name brand. That being said, I'm not looking for the cheapest window on the market. More so, what is the lowest priced quality window that you would recommend. As I stated earlier, energy efficiency, longevity, and price point are probably my top priorities. I have more than the standard number of windows in my size house due to the views that I am trying to capture, but I don't have lots of extra money in the budget.

The local lumberyard which probably 80% of the houses in the parish (translate county for all other states) use supplies Croft Windows, but I am pretty sure they can order others. Of course, there is almost no information for this window on the web. I have asked a couple people who have them installed and they are happy. Once again, we are not a mansion community, much more rural. Anyone heard of the company? How would they compare to mid-level and high-end windows on the market in terms of price and quality?

Edit: Local lumberyard supplies the following window brands: Croft, krestmark, plygem, Window Mart, Weathershield, & Quaker. Also possibly Kraftman or Craftman??? Anyone know anything about any of these especially Kraftman/Craftman?

I'm sure there are some more "window shops" in nearby cities, but I don't want to waste my time chasing quotes that are way out of my pricepoint. I'm very much hoping that someone can shed some light on narrowing my scope of potential candidates.

The Efficient Window Collaborative highest recommended 2 pane window for my area has the following criteria:
U factor: 0.23 - 0.30
SHGC: less than 0.25
VT: 0.41 - 0.50

These seem impossible to find and I'm willing to lose some of the efficiency if the pricepoint jumps tremendously. The trees do provide good shade and there will be porches to block a good bit of the direct sunlight. So efficient but with a reasonable price tag.

Again, thanks in advance!!

This post was edited by LASouthernBelle on Fri, Jun 7, 13 at 23:38

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Also curious, how would the price point of the Marvin Integrity with the wood interior compare to the upper end vinyl and/or mid-level vinyl. Obviously, I would expect them to be more, but can anyone put some general $ amounts. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 10:50PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Nothing impossible about that list of requirements but you need to prepare yourself to spend decent money on a decent window and company.

It is impossible on this end of things to be able to hazard a guess what a company is going to charge for a window in that market. To take it a step further, its tough to judge in our own market.

The general rule of the Integrity with wood comparing to high end vinyl with an interior laminate is probably not to far off.

On the efficiency consideration, Window "X" will outperform window "Y" as a result of the glass type moreso than the frame construction or materials.

You need a low SHGC glass down there to deal with the heat so be sure that the glass is specified with something that will net a SGHC that is in the teens.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 7:01AM
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This post was edited by bkhawk27 on Mon, Jun 10, 13 at 8:12

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 7:50AM
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Thanks so much for the information and quick replies. At least I have a general $ amount to aim around.

I had read about the air infiltration rating, but I was having a hard time actually seeing advertised numbers from different companies. I would think this is something that would have to be posted along with the U-factor and other ratings. I guess not.

Are there any specific brands in the mid-priced vinyl window category that you would recommend with a low air infiltration rating and that meet the other standards I will need?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Companies with good air infiltration numbers will advertise it, companies with bad numbers will not....but I can promise you that they are ALL aware that it matters.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:33AM
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As for prices, that will depend upon the business model of the companies that you are looking at. If they are a low profit high volume dealer you will get the most bang for the buck.

This post was edited by EntryPointExteriors on Mon, Jun 10, 13 at 7:59

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:40AM
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I seriously doubt that any of the specialty window shops around here are setup on the high volume low profit model simply because there is just not enough demand for anything resembling high volume in this area. From what I can tell so far, most of the "specialty exclusive windows" are sold through storefronts that are primarily mirror and glass shops... not just window shops. And from their websites, it appears that the windows are not a priority whatsoever (as in they don't even mention they had them even though the window website listed them as a dealer).

Based on the above mentioned, I think the specialty windows in this area will be even more cost prohibitive than in more densely populated areas. Therefore, I will probably be leaning towards a quality window that I can get from a lumberyard. Just trying to figure out what that brand may be....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 11:21AM
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Most windows are custom sized and will not cost more for that reason. I would recommend that you go to manufacturers websites and see what their dealer locator drums up for your area. You also may be able to purchase them directly from the manufacturer and have a factory installer of your choice install them.

This post was edited by EntryPointExteriors on Mon, Jun 10, 13 at 8:56

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 11:51AM
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This post was edited by EntryPointExteriors on Mon, Jun 10, 13 at 8:16

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Entry Point, i dont think Soft Lite would be too happy with you telling a homeowner to find a way to purchase their windows while some jack of all trades contractor screws up the install and created a headache for soft lite.
I also dont think Soft Lite woukd appreciate your company telling home owners to find a " high volume, low profit margin company".. Who in their right mind would want to deal with a company with a low profit margin ? So they can cut corners? Its pretty obvious your company follows the Window World " caulk and walk" business model that enables their customers to do their window project twice. You also lose credibility by spamming your company, you sound ridiculous.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:45PM
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This post was edited by EntryPointExteriors on Mon, Jun 10, 13 at 8:02

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:19AM
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First off you have been going on various websites spamming your company name.its sounds sleazy and cheap. I dont see other companies being as blatant as you.
If this is the way you try to attempt to garner business, i feel bad for you and your company. I also doubt soft lite would be happy with you under cutting their other dealers with your bs " high volume, low margin rates". How would you pay your over head???? tell me some more bs.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:25AM
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La, you want to find a good window at a good value. You don't want to be price gouged, nor do you want a super low price. I understand that the latter sounds counter intuitive, but that business model inevitably results in cost cutting, and is not successful in this industry with one large exception: window world. Everyone else that tries fails over the long term. The reason is, both the super high and super low price models are based too much on numbers, rather than developing relationships with their clients. In addition, people shopping on price alone are fine with a lesser window ( at least for awhile until they find out why it was cheaper). you also run the risk of a shoddy install because these companies inevitably pay their installers less. I'm going off on a tangent a bit here but i think that you get the idea. Balance is key, just like most things in life.
Entrypoint, I'm not going to pre-judge your motives, but the self promotion of your company and Product line are coming on a little strong. I've seen people banned for less... Plus it makes your company look super tacky.
Jmo, take it for what it's worth.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 7:45AM
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Karate guy, thanks for the thoughtful response. you could not be more right about keeping a balance, in our area the competition is one of the toughest in the country and as a result our average price per unit is lower than most places. Here, you will not make it if can't bring quality work/product to the table at a competitive price. As for the promoting, my apologies and thanks for the advise. I have removed as much as i could see....if you see anything that smells like promo please let me know and I will fix it.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Okay obviously this has gotten slightly off topic. Let me rephase.

If your only choice was to buy a window from a retail store or lumberyard (no specialty window shops), which would you choose with energy efficiency, quality, value, and longevity being the most important factors?

Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 4:58PM
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1) What do you consider a retail store? My preferred list of vendors would be a window dealer/installation company, followed by lumberyard/building supply house, followed by box stores. You will see a linear decline in quality and performance as you move down that list.

2) All of those items are important (performance, quality, longevity, value), but the good thing is, when you are looking at vinyl windows they generally move the needle in sync with each other. The better the thermal and structural ratings are, the better the quality is and the longer that they will last.
U value, air infiltration, and design pressure are the big ones to look at.

3) A few vinyl product choices that are very well made and offer great performance are Okna/Himark, Softlite, Sunrise, and Polaris. I know that you mentioned trying to find a product that might not be as "well-known" among pros, however there is a reason that those products are highly regarded. That said, you should be able to find a good performer that is more "regional" , just use the performance ratings of the better options as a guide for comparison. Alternatively, if your main concern is trying to find a dealer of those products, as someone else suggested you could contact the manufacturer and ask them for a referral in your area.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:21PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

+1 to HomeSealed advice.

What options do you have again in your area?

While I am not a huge fan, the Simonton window is a solid product offering that is pretty widely available and very well supported via a great product warranty and strong company.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 7:47AM
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LA, HomeSealed/windowsonwashington are both absolutely right.....pretty much the same thing I said, as you already know....if you stick to their advise you will be fine.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 8:03AM
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I also agree with windows on washington and homesealed regarding Okna, HiMark, Soft Lite, Sunrise! or Polaris. I would strongly recommend Okna 800 or 500 but they are very high end as is the Soft Lite Elements.
However, the Okna 400 as a very solid mid grade with very good performance numbers but i dont believe it is offered in your area.
The Simonton 5500 ,although not as good of a performer as the okna 400 series , is a good mid grade.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 8:11AM
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