Top-quality vinyl window manufacturers?

jennysjettaSeptember 4, 2006

Can someone recommend a few manufacturers of top-quality vinyl windows besides Pella and Andersen? We're located in Philadelphia, PA.

We're going the vinyl route to save some money, but we want a GOOD window preferably from a company I've heard of. We have two estimates already, both of which insist their windows are "the best"-- anyone hear of AccuWeld or United Vinyl before?

Our first window is going to be a 10.5 foot wide bow that desperately needs replacing. I don't want to find out about sag, warping, etc. on something that size.

Any other tips on a window that size would be appreciated too. Thanks!

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Isn't it interesting how everyone has the "Best window made"?

If you insist on vinyl, Simonton, Republic, Certainteed, etc make some good windows, but as in all manufacturers, they have different quality levels within their offerings. So it isn't enough to grab the name of a manufacturer, you need to examine the construction and specifications of each series. Be particularly careful about a window 10 feet wide.

You might not really be saving money on vinyl, it will depend greatly on how you buy it. You may be able to get a good wood window for less than vinyl. There's some merit in working with local lumber companies (not the big box stores)
who have great resources of labor through contractors who regularly use their product. You buy the windows, they provide the labor and you cut down on marketing costs that are so hefty on some of the vinyl window companies. It's worth a look.

Marketing costs a lot of money, who do you suppose pays for all that marketing? Look a some of the quiet companies. It takes a little digging but their dollars are put into the product, not the hype. Loewen wood windows are a good example.

You can also gain some knowledge by reading posts on this site about the differences between prime windows and replacement windows, new jambs verses inside the old jambs, sills, exterior casings, etc.

The "best" window is the one that meets your needs, now and as long as you own your home, plus returns some dollars at resale time.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 6:53AM
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Since your in the northeast I would reccomend the Harvey Classic made by Harvey Industries. They've been around for I think 45 years, and have a lifetime warranty on all parts including accidental glass breakage. Personally I think its a nicer window than Anderson and other more expensive windows. They have fully welded frames, aluminum screens, night locks, and operate very smooth and easy, the vinyl is "true white" also, many companies add blue dye to make them look brighter but in certian lights you can see the blue. We install about 2000 vinyl windows a year and its the only one I'd put in my house. Price wise they are prolly in the mid to high range. Worth looking into anyway to see if they meet your needs.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 12:59PM
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For the bow window sagging is usually from poor installation, now most bows and bays come with cables that actually suspend the window. To save money you have alot of options for an opening that size. You could put a bay in instead of a bow to save a little money. Or if you want to save alot of money you could make it a row of double hungs with or without transoms, a picture window flanked by either double hungs or casements.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2006 at 2:17PM
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When it comes to vinyl windows Schuco has stood in front of the others for many years. They're NFRC ratings are almost the best in every category. This rating is against all others made, wood, aluminum clad, vinyl clad, aluminum or fiberglass. If you compare the actual physical appearance of the Schuco to any other vinyl on the market. You can see the Schuco window looks much nicer than any of the others. They're downfall is shipping product in an acceptable time frame. They're made in Connecticut and have a high demand. Their current facility can't keep up with the demand. They're in the process of adding on to their facility, which might be up and running as we speak.

Schuco is the Cadillac of the industry and does cost more than the others. But you can still have them done cheaper than the Andersen's, Marvin's or the Pella's depending on who you buy them from. Other great vinyl window manufacturer's are Gilkey, Great Lakes, Gorell, Alside, Simonton & Milgard to point out some others. Each area of the Nation also has smaller manufacturer who sell in local areas. These are also great windows at a great price. So if you can find a local manufacturer, check out their product also.

The most important thing to remember is your windows are only as good as the installers. The best window on the market is worthless if it's not done correctly. Find a great installer and you'll usually find a great window!

Good Luck!!!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 7:10AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

All with PA maufacturing facilities.

Thermal Industries

In your area, there are many quality fabricators of vinyl windows. Choose the best one for your budget.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2006 at 6:17PM
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Ever consider a fiberglass window? I have Marvin's Infinity windows, and we did get a price on replacing a picture window on our porch, and I can tell you it will cost you. Although I never replaced the picture window, I thought that the price of the regular fiberglass windows was fair and middle-of-the-line.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 8:25PM
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What windows did you purchase? Are you happy with them? I also live in Philadelphia (Northern Liberties) and need to replace my windows soon - as well as add some new windows during my renovation project. - Tom

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 5:11PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Schuco and Softlite are very nice manufacturers.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 10:50PM
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Why is Accu-Weld junk? Also, what do you think of National Building Products as a brand for vinyl replacement windows? I'm also from Phila., and looking for good brand vinyl windows, and reputable installers.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 5:19PM
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hi hope this will help the window connection is a schuco distributor in jersey market triple pane .22 u value equals big savings

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 1:14PM
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Read the actual warranty when deciding.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2007 at 8:44PM
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The problem in the window industry is there are over 3000 window manufacturers out there putting out windows, and really only 3 with any national recognition meaning representation in all parts of the country those being Pella, Marvin, and Andersen. The thing to look for in a vinyl window, are the joints welded together, is there any reinforcement to the vinyl such as a metal rod or clp in the corners under the vinyl. What is the U -rating of the window (this is a measurement where lower is better .33 is much better than .40) are the windows randomly tested for air infiltration or is every window tested before it is released. What kind of balance is used in the double hung. A block and tackle balance is the best rather than a spiral or spring balance. How long has the company been in business. Alifetime warranty is no good if the company goes out of business in a year, and this happens more often than you think.. Just some things to think about, You may not like Pella or Andersen but they have been around for years and seem to be here to stay. They do take care of problems (a lot of the problems you see on these posts are not neccessarily corporate problems but distributor problems)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 8:51AM
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I thought Shucco was a great product. I found a better product with a u value of .17 almost a .16 , is there anything better?

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 9:20AM
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Are you saying you think one window is better product than another simply based on a U factor? Would you also say a Hyndai that gets 37 mpg is a better car than a Lexus that get 35 mpg?

There is much more to consider other than energy efficiency ratings. In fact there is more to consider than just the quality of the window. Installation is more important than a couple of .00's in the U factor.

Note some of these difference pointed out in Galefarms post above. Although I don't share her contention that Pella and Anderson make a quality vinyl window or that they have a very good national reputation for service and warranty issues.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 5:16PM
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In Southern California the top window manufacturers are:

Green World

All have a good warranty and service too.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 3:54PM
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I manufacture heavy duty aluminum windows for school reconstruction but let me give you some things to look for in ANY window. Thickness of the parts ex. .060 minimum but look for more like .090 to .100 if possible. Is the glass tempered both lites (insulated glass is made up of 2 "lites") pay attention to the "U" value and "SHGC" but be cautious as there are products that meet Energy Star for all 5 zones but in real life performance you may want some of the heat gain in the northern states but not in the south. Go to PPG or other huge glass manufacturer and use the resources there along with to get the proper energy package. Dont pay extra for argon (or any other gas inserted between the glass instead of air) but take it if it is offered at no charge. In about 8 years you wont have benefit of the argon anyhow. Is the window reinforced and with what ? self locking ? what is the frame depth ? look at least 3" or better yet, more.
The total glass should be at least 3/4". In short, do your research. One thing to remember is the best window you can afford is wothless if it is not installed properly. Regardless of who installs it, look at the mfg literature and make sure the window is installed properly (some things like silicone caulk, stainless screws, properly flashed and waterproofed. A good installation stops the water at the outside. Once water gets past the very very first seal it is in your house. The inner seals are important so dont ignore ....but that outer seal is so important. I have nothing to substantiate it but I would bet that 80% or more of the problems with new windows by consumers is poor installation. Good luck, Bruce

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 6:49PM
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Okna, Polaris, Gorell, Soft lite, and Sunrise are the top 5 today. some of the other one's mentioned in earlier posts are no longer available. all 5 use premium grade vinyl and are engineered very well.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 12:16AM
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Please remember that the installer is as important as the manufacturer. I did a lot of research on vinyl before buying PlyGem. No other decent mfgrs here except Milguard and I wasn't impressed with their stuff. However, our installation was a nightmare of sledge hammers and tons of filler and fixer after the fact. And I found out that the installer had never intalled the premium line of PlyGem and was afraid to do so. If we had it to do over, we would have just kept our old anodized aluminum windows.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 8:40AM
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nerdyshopper-- Where are you located? I'm using the Plygem/M&W as well. Did you do energy star? I was quoted an additional $3000 for the UV/SHG. Just wandering if that seems accurate.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 2:21PM
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Hello, I am in Eastern Washington State. I did my homework. Checked with several other customers; called all major installers in our area and discussed their products/services; called PlyGem, both the home office and the regional assembler; even called the local PUD who supplied energy rebates. All gave satisfactory answers. The windows I wanted were the top of the line Premium triple pane with the highest ratings of any PlyGem products. The highest rating the local installer had used were the middle grade. When I spoke to the regional assembler they said the only installer for the Premium windows were in the big city Seattle ares. They also confounded the process by building some of my triple panes wrong. The installer had to come back and remove some of the windows to put in ones that met the energy ratings. The new ones they brought were not even the right size, so our house got messed up inside for a third time. The worst problem was that the original aluminum windows were finned and installed in the original construction. The house has steel siding and getting the old ones out was difficult, but could have been done without knocking the bricks out of the front trim or tearing up the inside walls if a little finesse and the right tools had been used.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:56AM
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dont know where you went wrong with your installer but plygem is just ok; nothing i would consider top of the line by any stretch. not comparable to the top lines such as gorell, sunsrise, Polaris, soft lite and okna.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 7:40PM
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None of those are available here.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 1:30PM
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i think Milgard is a west coast window; at least i think it is... in the North East , the top 5 premium windows are gorell, Polaris, sunrise, okna, and soft lite.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 5:20PM
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I looked at Milgard and it seemed to me it was inferior to PlyGem at a higher cost. We don't seem to have the expertice or competition that Easterners can get.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 4:47AM
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You should be able to find a Simonton dealer as Simonton is pretty widely available in most parts of the U.S. Just go to their website and use the "dealer locator" feature. Often it will only show wholesale distributors but you can contact them and ask for a referral for an installer.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:49AM
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The nearest Simonton dealer was about 60 miles from here and he didn't have a business licence to work here and didn't want to bother. Believe me I tried.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Since Simontons are sold through almost all major supply houses, I would suggest a little more diligence. Fact is, any contractor or homeowner can usually get them. Perhaps you could go that route and then just find a good installer to put them in?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Well it's too late for that. Our nightmare is over. If our installer is "one of the best", I hate to think what else could have happened. I haven't given all the details here because it would fill a book, but there is a lot more that happened with no sign it was coming from all the references I checked. Even the neighbor across the street recommended them.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:11AM
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Building home and contractor is recommending Windgate by Alliance. Does anyone have any specific experience with these windows (and sliding glass doors) - are they great, average, bad? If not them, what would you recommend that's not off the chart expensive? Also, looking at some slides v. casements - some people swear by casements others say they break. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 5:09PM
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I would keep shopping and stay away myself. No idea what type home your building but I would use casements before a slider most definitely.Where are you building? What type of home? What material are you looking for?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 9:01PM
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On the Alliance windows - it's year-round cottage in Northern Wi. I don't want to spend a fortune on windows or upkeep of them; at same time, don't want to replace in 10 years. I don't know the expected life of vinyl windows or what I should be looking for. Would very much just like someone to guide to the top 3 or something; this is really complicated and there's a lot of marketing speak - I just want good solid windows that will work and hold up as expected.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 10:10AM
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The brands most on here agree we like are made by Sunrise Windows, HiMark/Okna, and Softlite. All make a line-up of windows in varying degrees of quality and price, but you should be able to find something in their line-up that suits your needs.

Simonton, while not the best performing window nor the prettiest, is also a solid window and is likely more available than the other brands. Although all should be available to you unless you are in a very remote location.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


If you are in Northern Wisconsin, there aren't too many other climates that are harsher.

Make sure you spend the money and get the right product for your region and one that will stand up to the rigors of that weather.

Triple pane is certainly a worthwhile option in this case and I highly suggest that you try to track down the brands that Eco mentioned in his post (Soft-Lite, Sunrise, Okna, HiMark).

They will be a bit more expensive than the Simonton equivalent in most cases, but will be well worth it in a performance requiring application.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:26AM
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