questions on replacement windows

txajDecember 6, 2010


We're looking to buy windows for a wood frame home we're remodeling. Not looking for anything spectacular, just a decent single hung window that's energy efficient.

Upon reading at various forums, I keep seeing references to "failed" windows that were replaced. What exactly is failing - is the glass fogging, frames breaking, water leaking? Maybe my thinking is not in tune with the times, but aren't windows usually supposed to last longer than 5 to 7 years? Are they failing because they're being constantly opened / closed?

I'm looking to buy a better window than what I could buy at the local home centers, but can't afford $300 or more per window. Is there something decent in a sub-$300 window, or is it too going to need replacing in a relatively short time?

I've gotten quotes on Jeld Wen builders vinyl, and Don Young 5200 vinyl, which were about 25% higher than the JW as quoted. I'm checking on Simonton's ProFinish Contractors line, but am having difficulty getting pricing as a homeowner. Out of these 3, are any considered decent, or should I look elsewhere?

As mentioned, I'm looking for single hung, probably vinyl due to price constraints, and energy credit eligible. I'd prefer ones with nailing fins as that's what I'm used to, and because the openings are going to be redone anyway to accommodate different windows sizes than it has now.

Thanks for any words of wisdom,


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you will not be able to find anything near quality at 300 per window. that is just unrealistic. try buying in stages.
you will get a builders grade window maybe for $350 but you will be flushing money down the toile and in a few years you will be ripping them out. don't make that mistake,it would be very costly. spend extra on quality and as i said,try doing them in stages.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 8:39AM
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Failed depends largely on the context. The 2 areas of failure can result from either a poor quality installtion or poor quality manufacturing and/or materials.

If a window is not installed correctly it will likely allow air to enter the house thereby negating any gains in energy efficiency. It can also allow moisture to permeate the framing causing the wood to rot.

A poorly designed window can also allow air to enter the house and also to escape once again negating any energy efficiency gains. Imprecisely manufactured IG units can fail allowing air seepage between the panes of glass causing insulating gas to escape resulting in fogging and loss of energy efficiency. Cheap grades of vinyl windows will also be more prone to warping. Many other "failures" are possible but you get the idea. Cheap is cheap. Don't live the fantasy that you can "get away" with buying cheap vinyl windows and that they will "magically" perform well. They won't!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 9:31AM
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OK, I understand that you get what you pay for in most cases. However, as much as I would like to buy the very best quality, I'm going to have to make do with something a few notches down the list. The old windows are a mix of single pane mill finish and single pane wood windows from the 1940's, so I'm still wanting to replace them all at once.

That being said, is the Simonton ProFinish Contractor series any better than what I could buy at a home center, or any better than the Jeld Wen builders and the Don Young 5200 I was quoted?

If I buy the Simonton's, I'll upgrade to the argon, low E glass, and the Supercept option, still waiting on pricing for the double strength glass. In this configuration, am I still going to be looking for replacements in a few years?

Thanks for any input, I do appreciate it.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 12:09PM
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Skydawgggy can probably answer you better, but I would take the Simonton over the other 2 you mention, and from my point of view stay the hell away from Homecenters(HD or Lowes type) for windows and doors. Nothing good comes from them supplying these items in my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 12:20PM
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My advice is to always buy quality windows even if you have to do them a few at a time. I would also be very aware of air infiltration. AI is not factored in to the energy ratings on windows and thus you can purchase 2 windows with indentical U-factors and end up with dramatic differences in performance. I would not recommend purchasing a window with an AI rating below .15cfm2.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 1:29PM
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Your last statement about the AI - is that rating above or below .15scfm? My limited understanding is that is has to be lower than .3, and the best rating is rounded to .1. So, a .15 or lower is what you're recommending, correct?

According to their website, the 32 x 62 Contractor has an AI rating of .08 scfm/ft2. Is this acceptable?

Thanks for the lessons - I'm learning more all the time!


    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 3:06PM
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I'm sorry, let me correct what I said. I meant I WOULD recommend purchasing a window with an AI less than .15 cfm/ft2. The AAMA Gold Label standard requires a window with an AI of less than .30. That's the absolute maximum allowable to still recieve that rating. However, I would want to purchase a window much lower than that. Although is debateable where the line should be drawn, .15 is where I draw it because I think anything lower than that eliminates a lot of otherwise very good windows such as Marvins. For some professionals and purists (yep, they are out there), anything less than .05 is too much AI. The lowest rating any window can get is.01, so even if it was .00, it would still get a .01 rating.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 4:10PM
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Why single hung? Is this a single story home? My double hung vinyl Plygems swing in for ease of cleaning. Bottom line, there are a few good brands of vinyl or fiberglass replacement windows on the market. The key to the whole thing is a top notch installation company. BTW, my windows were installed nine years ago and look as good as the day they were installed by a company that has been in business since 1961.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 9:49AM
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