Replacing old sliding aluminum windows--are tilt-ins waste of $$?

purrusSeptember 5, 2009

Hi everyone,

We're replacing our old, crappy aluminum builder-grade windows from 1965. We've only gotten one quote so far, but this person is very highly rated on our local angie's list (which is very active and reliable in our area).

This person suggested replacing our aluminum sliders with vinyl sliders and acted like my desire for tilt-in windows for easy cleaning was a waste of money. I really appreciate a contractor who does not try to "sell up" or get me to spend more money for silly things, but my question for you is---ARE windows that tilt in for easy cleaning a waste of money?

Furthermore, this person said that my original wood double-hung windows are "fine" for now--I can feel cold air coming through them in the winter, though. (The builder installed these on the front of the house and used aluminum everywhere else, I assume to save $$). Does this sound strange? I think he sensed that we are on a budget (we are--we just bought this house, and put in new AC, new furnace and refinished the hardwood floors, so yes, we're on a budget) and wanted to make the sale happen.

For 9 windows (three of which are really quite large) he quoted about $8000. This is for a vinyl sliding window that doesn't tilt in and they are also low-E so that we can get the energy rebate. Does this sound reasonable, expensive, or too cheap? From reading this forum I see that I should have asked about brands, but didn't. I'm concerned that he is trying too hard to help us save money.

I don't want to spend stupid money, but I want to get good windows. I know I also need to get other estimates, but wanted to ask these questions here first so I'm more informed for the next contractor.

Of course, nothing could be worse than the windows we have now. We might as well have holes cut in the walls with no glass!

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I am also having aluminum windows replaced with vinyl, and spent yesterday getting estimates.

Just like many home improvements, I'll bet it matters where you live as to what a reasonable price is. I'm in North Louisiana.

I received bids for 11 window openings (3 are larger) using comparable products with each company. My highest bid was nearly $13,000 (large national chain) lowest was $6,700 (reputable local company using slightly better product, with better product and installation warranty).

YOU are the one to decide if tilt-in windows are a waste of your money or not. If it's worth it to you to have them tilt in so you can clean them, then get them. Remember, the salesman won't be the one cleaning them.

As for your wood double-hungs: They've been there for 44 years. They may be in better shape than the aluminum, but they're still drafty, right? I'd also venture to say that in 1965 when they were installed they probably didn't have the benefit of low-e coatings and argon (just guessing; no expert).

Please check on the guidelines for the energy rebate. Make sure you can still qualify if you only replace SOME of the windows.

Bottom line: no matter what the salesman's angle is, YOU know what's right for you. Let peace be your umpire and go with what will make you most your house and in your mind.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 12:31PM
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I would also point out to you that double hung windows reduce air infiltration better than sliders. My recommendation would also depend on the opening size. If it's very wide, you may need 2 DH's to fill the opening that 1 slider would accomodate. This could be why the contractor feels that using DH's are a waste of money. Most sliders allow the sashes to be lifted out for cleaning so it's really more of a convenience than a necessity to go with DH's in many cases.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 1:25PM
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Well, he didn't say outright that double-hungs are a waste of money, just that tilt-ins are. (Unless I am confused and sliders are never able to tilt inward?) He said that sliders would be less expensive because the current windows are sliders, and they would just fit right in where the old ones were. (I guess they are all standard-sized sliders.)

Honestly, I would rather spend the extra money and do them ALL, including the wood windows, but finances may not allow that.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 2:33PM
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DH's are generally considered tilt-ins. Most sliders do not tilt-in and many that do have problems with air and water infiltration. Whether sliders would be more expensive, as I have noted, depends on the size. If the openings are something like 72x38, you would need to purchase 2 DH's, which of course, would be more expensive than 1 slider but, the DH's would seal better. If you are on a budget, have large window openings and don't live in an extreme climate, I'd agree with your contractor.

Not to confuse the issue but, have you considered awning windows? They seal better than any other window with the exception of a fixed picture window. They may cost a little more than sliders but are more energy efficient.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 3:41PM
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Well, I do live in a cold state, but yes, several of my windows are HUGE.

Awning windows look far do they open? I am a fan of windows open all the way all summer. I like that you could open these while it's raining.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 8:10AM
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Awning windows open to 90 degrees and are great if you like to open windows while it's raining. I would focus on air infiltration if you live where it's cold. Roughly, how large are the openings?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 7:29PM
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