Homeowner attempts to buy windows - cue laugh track

ltlredwagonNovember 15, 2010

Okay, so reliable, impartial, experienced sources of data don't exist right (apart from this site, of course)? I'm told to "hire a pro" - they've already done the research. Ones I've talked to sell what the have and don't have long-term reliability data. Products always changing. Company X bought out by company Y. Certain Teed to PlyGem. Eagle to Anderson. Pella great - but not at Lowes.

Warranty has more holes than Swiss cheese. Brand X slider great, double-hung awful. Internet awash in horror stories for almost every brand - product failures and poor/non-existent customer service. Maker blames installer, installer blames maker. Forget the US - buy Canada or Germany.

I'm replacing 25 windows in the mountains. Summers 80-90, winters teens and 20s. Leaning towards fiberglass - at least if they hold up structurally I can paint them in 10 years (not so with vinyl I think). Marvin seems to get the least jabs (except for the 90s fiasco) - high quality with limited warranty. Hmmmm - if Marvin warranties for 10 years how can Milgard (lower quality, right?) warranty for lifetime+? That lifetime warranty sure looks tasty said the fish to the fisherman.

Yeah, I'm gonna go with Milgard fiberglass and the best installer I can find. Now, someone PLEASE tell me what an idiot I am: that Brand X vinyl is just as good and cheaper; The lifetime warranty is just bait for an inferior product; stop being a cheapskate and put up the big bucks for Brand Y; I'm a fool - nothing lasts 10 years these days; when Bonzai Bernanke gets done with QE 3, 4, & 5 none of these companies will even exist; go back to wood - high maintenance, but at least it CAN be maintained.

If you had your windows install right after Nixon stepped down and they still work great, please let me know. Oh, and I will pay good $$ (seriously - email me at [email]david.avid88@yahoo.com[/email]) for consulting with a contractor who has been around for decades installing Marvin, Anderson, Pella, Milgard, Simonton, Serious, etc. and has personal experience on which products are the most reliable.

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alan_s_thefirst

Kudos for doing your homework, but it IS possible to over-think it.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 12:18AM
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ltlredwagon

Maybe so, Alan. But I've talked to half a dozen or so friends and associates who purchased windows in the last 5 years (including one owner of a window store!) and they all, for various reasons, say they "under-thought" their purchase and would do things differently today. Not a large survey I know, but before I lay out whatever thousands of $$$ I think I'll err on the side of overthinking.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 1:14AM
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skydawggy

What did they say they would do differently?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 1:26AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington

+1

Not to confuse the situation but I prefer the Marvin over the Milgard too.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 1:33AM
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millworkman

+2

My personal opinion is a good wood window over a vinyl or fiberglass, I know that some will disagree but again that is my opinion.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:09AM
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texasredhead

We have had Plygem vinyl double hung (except for large fixed pane) windows for 8 years. They look as good as the day they were installed by a company that has been in business since 1961. The double hung windows can both swing in for ease of washing. I would think this feature is essential on two story homes.

In the main living areas, kitchen, family room, dining room, the windows have interior wood tone coloring to match the other trim, cabinets in those rooms.

Now, there seems to be some issue with warranties. Basically, the vinyl window frame is guaranteed for "life".
The glass is not! All of the double pane glass units can be replaced inside the window frame without replacing the frame.

The double pane glass units have argon gas inside. sometimes, due to settling or what ever, the panes will lose their seal resulting in what looks like a dirty window inside the double pane. There may be X amount of time those panes are warranted as part of the installation warranty.

After that time, the vinyl frames are warranted by the manufacturer but not the glass panes. Those can be replaced at a reasonable cost by in my case, the company that installed the windows.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:43AM
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ltlredwagon

Skydoggy, the window store owner got vinyl, but said she wished she had gotten fiberglass - some problem with the sliding mechanism. One friend got wood which he said was very nice but on two sides of his house the weather hits it pretty hard and he complained about the quality of paint these days and how maintenance was too much of a hassle. Another got the Milgard vinyl with the Doug fir veneer, but said the veneer was super thin and when he saw Marvins later he wished he had paid the extra for those.

Texas, thanks very much for that. I don't know much about Plygem but I'll look into that. 8 years is pretty good. I had a Milgard dealer out today. The Milgard warranty is very good and includes the glass. The dealer also said Milgard is fast to respond to problems. Not too excited about how the mitered corners look, on either the vinyl or the fiberglass. Little plastic weld line looks kind of cheap. But I haven't given up on Milgard yet.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:39PM
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texasredhead

Forgot to mention about exterior color of vinyl/fiberglass window frames. In the case of my Plygems, you have white or a tan/beige color. We chose white as it look better with our brick.

Concerning longevity, we have 25 windows and the total bill was not cheap. When you pay that type of money, you expect the windows to outlive you. All of our windows were custom made to fit our window frames. No off the shelf stuff. As an example, we have a five pane bow window in our dining room. It took two days just to install that window which has walnut trim on the inside to match the dining room table.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:17AM
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