Show me THE best vinyl window

cvetteJuly 7, 2010

We are obtaining quotes to replace anywhere from 4 to 15 DH windows in our 23 yo NY home. Both my wife and I are leaning toward wood windows. Currently in the lead are Andersen Woodwrights and Marvin Ultimates. However, I don't want my bias against vinyl windows to get in the way. I'm a mechanical engineer and very numbers driven.

The vinyl windows currently being pitched to me by local companies are Great Lakes, Thermal Industries and Restorations. Any vinyl window I've seen so far feels like a plastic window to me. The fake wood trim option on the inside just feels like a window trying to be what it is not.

That being said, the insulating ability of a vinyl frame and the overall low air infiltration specs of the vinyl windows make me wonder if I am unfairly discounting vinyl windows. Reading about claims of 40% savings on energy bills makes one wonder.

So some questions:

1) Vinyl will yellow in time, right? As I understand it, it is just a question of when - something every manufacturer seems to assure me off-handedly won't happen. Heck, I read on this forum some manufacturers tint the vinyl to slow to discoloration process.

2) There are SO many vinyl window manufacturers, it is impossible to compare and know who the "premium" manufacturers are. Can someone please list major premium companies available in the Northeastern US?

3) Even worse, everone and his brother sells and installs vinyl windows around here. For every company I booked to quote me wood double hungs I found at least 3 who only sell and install vinyl. I don't get a fuzzy feeling that these vinyl guys have the skill to install a window properly.

So am I discounting vinyl windows too easily? I think I still want that wood window feel even if it costs me in performance - which is completely against my thinking as an engineer.

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skydawggy

1. This will happen if you buy a cheap vinyl window. Better windows have stabilizers that prevent this from happening.

2. Define Premium and I'll tell you who to look at.

3.The installation is equally if not more important to the process as the window selection.

So go buy wood then. A good Marvin or Andersen window will set you back $900-$1500 per window but should satisfy your thinking as an engineer.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 1:59PM
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cvette

Thanks skydawggy.

I guess I would define a premium vinyl window as:
1) All of the good to see features from a wood window, eg
- Warm spacer
- Good air infiltration and DP ratings
- Good seals including sash meeting rail type
- Performance U,SHGC,VT
2) All of the good to see features in a vinyl window, eg
- Welded joints
- Stabilizers to prevent warping and yellowing
These are just a few things of which I am aware. If I knew what defined a premium vinyl window, I could go looking. I suppose I just don't know what else to look for (or how to look for those stabilizers!?). I need to know what features separate the good from the bad other than price. I neglected to mention that 10 of the windows face east and receive full sun until about 1pm. That worries me with vinyl - maybe a warranty would assure me.

Regarding your last statement, where does your estimate of $900-1500 come from? My understanding is that installation is usually $150-200 each. Without getting specific, local lumberyards have quoted me about $400 each for a wood-clad 32"x52" DH meeting the 30/30 tax credit. Granted there is some markup but I don't see even $900. What am I missing? None of our quotes have come in yet but with your estimate, I'm sure to be shocked when they do :(

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 3:26PM
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tube

$900-$1500 installed looks correct to me. Anything less then that and I'd be concerned about the quality of the installer and you are getting the specs you want.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2010 at 6:47PM
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skydawggy

What I said was that if you want a good wood window, it will cost you $900-$1500. I suspect you are looking at vinyl because this price range for a top notch wood window is unaffordable.

Some of the top quality vinyl windows I'd recommend would be Gorell, Simonton, Softlite and Okna. Depending on which model and options you choose and what's involved in removing your old windows, preparing the openings for the new ones and the quality of the installation, (with installation being a really big factor)you could expect to pay between $450 and $900 installed.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 11:22AM
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cvette

Thanks - sorry I couldn't get back to this post sooner. I think we are going the wood route.

I've got a few quotes now for Harvey ($800ea) and Andersen 400series ($1200ea) DHs. I didn't realize they would cost so much for the install. I can get a Woodwright DH to fit in my 34x53 opening for under $300 from the local builders supply! Is all that difference in markup and the install? I am now leaning toward buying the window myself and finding a good installer with references.

I'm trying to nail down the window we want before continuing to find a contractor. We didn't like Pella, Jeld-Wen's Custom was just OK. We want to stay with a major national brand. I think Eagle, Loewen, Kolbe and Marvin will all be too expensive - at least a good 15-20% more than the Woodwright. I'm working on getting estimates.

Can anyone tell me what the Woodwright uses for cladding? I thought either the sash and/or frame was Fibrex and something they call Permashield. Will it stand up to full east facing sun? I'm concerned that the Woodwright might not last (yellow/crack/fade?) as long as an alum-clad window like the Marvin Ultimate or Kolbe Sterling. Any thoughts anyone has would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 12:59PM
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jckubiak1_aol_com

cvette, wondering which one you went with and how are they holding up?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 3:33PM
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lakeyjim

If you happen to be in the Great Lakes area, look up Solaris Window. It is made in Canada. You will not find a better vinyl that doesn't look like a vinyl at all. It also comes in 1000 colors that don't fade.

The big irony of Solaris is casements are actually lower cost than double hungs. This is because they primarily only use casements in Quebec where they are made. Everyone knows a casement seals better and higher DP, but the cost for every other product generally drives people to less expensive double hungs.

It is not cheap at all. In fact, in color (cost more), it rivals the price of good extruded aluminum clad wood windows.

If you are looking for a dark color on the outside, any solid color vinyl will not only fade, but dark solid vinyl absorbs the heat and will accelerate deterioration of the vinyl

Although Andersons are only clad with a thin vinyl material, look at teritone after a few years. It changes to teri-"tan".

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 7:14PM
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skydawggy

There is no such thing as colors that don't fade. Everything fades. Adding titanium to paint will slow down the fading but nothing will prevent it.

Please don't buy windows from Canada or any other country except the U.S. Many American manufacturers make very good windows and we need to buy U.S products.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:52PM
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mmarse1

Starmark, Gorell, Sunrise, Softlite, and Okna are the names most pro's recommend if you want high quality that will last. all very good windows with some very nice options.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 4:10PM
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