Andersen A Series, Loewen, or Marvin?

money_pit2007November 14, 2011

I'm starting to get quotes on double hung windows. Looking for "wood" as I have an old house and I prefer the "original" look of wood to anything synthetic. Just my preference. That said, I'm considering Andersen A, Loewen, and Marvin. I live by the ocean, so one of my main concerns is wear and tear on the outside. I understand that the outside of the window may need to either clad or treated/painted. I've been told that the aluminum clad windows will eventually pit and lose their color. So I'm left to either choose the Andersen A Series which has Ultrex ("fiberglass") on the outside, or either of these windows in a non-clad format (=lots of yearly maintenance). I love the Loewen's - they use fir and they look like a great window. Preliminary pricing shows Andersen's being the most expensive, which was a bit shocking to me. I know that both Andersen and Marvin use Southern Yellow Pine, but don't know if that really makes a difference. For what it's worth, i live on Long Island (NY).

Any thoughts on these windows? Are aluminum clad windows a bad idea by the salt water? Anyone have any opinions on any of these windows, and/or reviews?

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Windows on Washington Ltd

Andersen uses "Fibrex" which is a PVC resin and wood flour material. Ultrex is a Marvin trade name for their pultruded material.

The aluminum should not be exposed in an uncoated capacity.

I would like to see what the Loewen and Marvin prices are because they would be my first two choices.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:49PM
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"I know that both Andersen and Marvin use Southern Yellow Pine" Actually what you know is false as neither use Southern Yellow Pine, they both use Ponderosa Pine which is a western pine. Marvin also makes their windows in D.Fir. If your building a new home on LI then you will need Impact Windows, if your using Double Hung type windows that would leave out Loewen as they only make an Impact Single Hung last I knew.As wow pointed out Fibrex is wood flour and PVC resin which is not to be confused with Ultrex which is pultruded Fiberglas which is a truly more durable exterior than Fibrex. I personally have seen plenty of Marvin Extruded Aluminum windows sold n LI and there has been no issues with the finish lasting at all. That said Marvin does have an upgraded warranty that you may purchase for just such locations, although they do not do anything different to the finish they will warranty the finish longer. If you want a wood window the only windows I would consider other than Marvin would be Kolbe and maybe LePage in either wood or extruded aluminum clad. My first choice would be the Kolbe K-Kron prefinished wood if I were building a new home and whether or not I bought Kolbe or Marvin I would specify no Fingerjoints on any of the exposed wood surfaces.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:07PM
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Thanks, WoW - I stand corrected - Marvin uses the Ultrex. So many pitches, my head is spinning.

Here is the "quick" quote i got from my contractor - we'll be reviewing the details when we meet later this week. This is for two (2) double hungs - i don't have the details on glass or SDLs but requested the "most" efficient, with the SDL's that are "outside" of the glass (not the stuff that's in between).

Andersen A - $1,800
Loewen Alum Clad - $1,525
Marvin Alum Clad - $1,150

It's only my first estimate, it's a rough one, and i don't have details. My question is more about the best window for a house near the ocean. Is alum clad a no go? Is there something better?

Also, any experience with Loewen? I thought the windows were gorgeous and well-made, but a friend of mine is an architect and he said a few years back he had some bad experiences with them. Any feedback there is appreciated.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:09PM
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Also I would be very surprised to see Andersen being the most expensive. And my bad on missing the statement you were working on an old home, you may not need Impact windows although I understand pretty much all towns are requiring them now even on remodels.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:12PM
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again - thanks - this time to Mill (you guys are GREAT!). So much info out there - its' tough to decipher! The Loewen guy told me it was southern pine, and that it wouldn't hold up well in the Northeast. I chuckled a bit, but I think his point is that Fir could be a better "fit" for the Northeast. Heck - i just think it looked awesome, regardless of whether it was a fit! This particular guy also sold Kolbes, and Marvins, although he never once tried to cross sell me on another brand - odd. Loewen had some very cool trim that you could include in your order - i believe it was aluminum, but again - it just looked really nice. For what it's worth, it looked very well put together. As you can tell, i'm leaning towards the Loewen's, but i'm not 100% sold at all. It looks like i may need to disclude Andersen from consideration - not hearing many good things about the A series when compared with other windows, especially at the price they quoted me.

I can check out Kolbe - do you dislike Loewens? Also - can you explain a bit more about no fingerjoints? Is that an option?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:03PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Kolbe is a very solid window and it is my experience that the Loewen is a solid product as well.

I will defer millworkman when it comes to wood.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:42AM
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Ok, fingerjoints are small pieces of lumber with fingers cut into the ends that are then glues together. These pieces are then used for just about every piece on a wood window and from experience that is where the rot problems always start. YOU can have the units made with no fingerjoints, it costs extra but it is available. Also I am certain that your Loewen sample showed vertical grain doug fir (very nice straight beautiful graining). Becarefull because the standard and they probably will not tell you this is FLAT grain which truthfully looks kind of crappy on windows and trim. They will supply you with vertical grain but for an upcharge. If you go with Marvin or Kolbe ask for No Fingerjoints mainly on the sills and the casing as these are the most exposed pieces to the weather. I personally am not a huge Loewen fan and would stay away from them especially on the water. Their double hung units have been known to not be the tightest sealing units available. There are people on here who do not like aluminum clad units directly on the water, I have mixed feelings on it while I understand their concerns I have seen them last with no issues as well as long as it is a quality extruded aluminum exterior like a Marvin or Kolbe.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 7:52AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

here is a good picture to demonstrate millworkman's point

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 6:16PM
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I have worked with Marvin for several years and am very familiar with their products, so I hope I can offer some helpful info.

Marvin's aluminum cladding is superior to others. It's extruded rather than roll form -- it's much thicker than the competition. Think of the thickness of a quarter vs. the thickness of a soda can. Marvin also uses a DuPont Kynar finish on its aluminum, which is extremely durable -- you should really have no problems with pitting. I don't know why someone told you that. If you were talking about the very old, 1960s style bare aluminum windows, then I could see pitting develop, but not with a finished aluminum surface.

The previous posters are also correct about the difference between Ultrex and Fibrex.

Ultrex is a pultruded fiberglass that's stronger than steel and also has a superior finish that's 3 times thicker than the finish on most competing composite products. Since Ultrex is made of glass fibers, it doesn't expand or contract with heat or cold, so the odds are better that the seal between the glass and frame will remain intact.

One thing to clarify: Ultrex fiberglass is offered in Marvin's Integrity and Infinity lines of windows. The Marvin brand window is a wood window that comes either as all-wood or wood with aluminum clad exterior.

Integrity (which is probably what you're considering) is available either in all-Ultrex or Wood-Ultrex, with fiberglass on the outside and wood on the interior.

Over the last few years, I have replaced most of the windows in my house (in Minnesota) with both Marvin wood windows and all-Ultrex Integrity windows. I've been extremely happy with the performance of both.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:21AM
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P.S. Excuse me, Kynar is a Valspar product, not DuPont.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:33AM
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Kynar 500 paints are engineered for outdoor and exterior applications. When formulated into a coating composition which, according to the license agreement, contains a minimum of 70% by weight of Kynar 500� resin, the resultant coatings meet the AAMA 2605 specification of the Architectural Aluminum Manufacturers Association (opens in new window). Kynar paints exhibit superior:

Color retention
Gloss retention
Chalk resistance
Corrosion resistance
Stain resistance
Overall exterior durability

Kynar paints are resistant to color changes from ultra-violet light, and the 20-year integrity warranty* protects against:

Fading - rated at less than 5 delta units over the life of the warranty
Corrosion from salt spray and the elements

Above is the Std Kynar 500 finish warranty and it INCLUDES SALT SPAY and this is also what is used by both Marvin and Kolbe. May not be word for word their warranty but this is the warranty made available by the finish manufacturer!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Wow - you guys continue to amaze me. You should charge a fee for your consultation! Thanks - I'm leaning toward Marvin and Kolbe. I've asked around and haven't heard great things about LaPage or Loewen. I've also inquired about the no finger joints, but it sounds like it may be a bit more expensive - maybe a lot more expensive. Is this a must?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:49AM
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If your going with a clad unit no not necessary, if using wood units I would consider it on the casing and the sill. If your not going clad take a look at the K-Kron finish from Kolbe. You will still have to paint but not for at least 10 years and the finish will make a great base coat when it becomes needed to paint.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:58AM
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