Advice About Vinyl Windows

jcarteaDecember 19, 2013

Hey y'all,

My wife and I have been spending some time looking into having the windows replaced in our home. We've lived in the home for four years now, and the windows are going on 14 years old. Currently, we have single hung aluminum windows (unsure on the manufacturer), and they are not working out anymore. Other than a couple being all out broken, they don't open very well at all, don't have many screens left, and we have bad condensation on the insides of all of them this year. Looks about like a mini Gulf of Mexico on the window sills most nights now.

I've looked into many of the brands recommended on this forum: Okna, Sunrise, Soft-Lite, and a few others. The only manufacturer we seem to have down here on the Mississippi gulf coast is Simonton. Also, the only Simonton installer located within 50 miles of my house is HD. From what I've read on here, the Simonton VantagePointe 6500 is a good vinyl window. I plan on getting 10 double hung and 1 casement window. Cost may be around $6,700. I'm a bit concerned about using HD as an installer, but don't seem to have much of a choice. All the other local installers around here seem to deal in junk: Atrium, Alside, etc. and I'm not sold on Pella's vinyl windows lines. I've been in construction for a while, but I'm not very savvy on window installation. Anyone have any advice on ways to ensure a good installation from HD? Any advice is much appreciated.

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Quick follow-upâ¦

Big Orange just quoted be $12,700 for 10 Simonton 6500 windows and 1 Simonton casement window. All windows are about average size for a 1 story residential home. I know Simonton windows do not cost that much. Good ol' HD trying to put money in their pocket by inflating warranty costs. We also plan on selling in a couple years, so throwing $12,700 into Simonton windows isn't happening.

Brings me back to Lowe's quoting me $6,700 for the same install of Pella 25 seriesâ¦bad idea?

Still planning on checking out some other local installers.

Any advice out there?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 8:13PM
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Sounds pretty spendy. The Pella windows are low quality, I would avoid them since you should be able to get a better window close to same price and if your plans change your stuck with junk. If it is a just a basic insert install you could probaly easily do it yourself, the hardest part would be if your capping the windows with aluminum coil. I would not try that part yourself unless it is a simple bend and you have access to a brake and have worked with aluminum and understand how best to install it so it sheds water. If going with Simonton use there upper end window

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:49AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


That is a pretty high number out of Big Orange and I would keep the $6,700 in my pocket before putting in a ThermaStar window.

Can you take a look at some private shops products?

Anything in the family from Gorrell or PGT down there?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:47AM
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Thanks for the advice fellas. It's greatly appreciated. I would definitely do this all myself, but the time just isn't there. I have my wife and three boys under 5. Also, since I separated from the military I've been going to school full-time for construction engineering while still working 40 hours a week. I also do not have access to a brake.

I'm fairly certain HD was quoting so high because they were forcing many "options" on me to help ensure they wouldn't have to pay our on a warranty (they were forcing storm protection and tempered glass on all of the windows).

I have not seen Gorrell anywhere, but I have looked into PGT. I'm a bit confused with PGT. Are they only tempered glass?

I'd really like to go with a local shop in the area, but the only problem with that is they come and go as quickly as the hurricanes come and go. Lowe's is also offering the transferable warranty, which I'm hoping would be a nice selling point.

I'm wanting to type more, but I gotta get my son to school. Thanks again folks.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 8:17AM
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Found out a bit more about PGT while talking to a reputable local installer. Seems like a much better choice so far. I told him what Lowe's was offering with the ThermaStar, and he said they'd probably be right at that, or even maybe bit lower with the PGT.

Only drawback is they can't come out for a quote until the 30th, so it looks like I'll miss out on the tax credit. I'm ok with missing out on $200 though if it means I can take my time to make a good decision.

Looked into Gorell and they are not available in my area.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 12:07PM
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You are on the right track, I agree with the above recommendations. $200 is a small sacrifice to get the right product/company.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 2:01PM
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I live in SC and was researching/shopping for replacement windows approx. 1 1/2 yrs. ago. I do say that this is the most informative message board known to provide objective help on the subject. When researching, I quickly ruled out the "big box" arranged-subcontractor solution based on inconsistent install quality advice. My search by brand was a puzzle. In the replacement window market one finds many brands but various quality levels within brands. Also, seems a fair amount of brand ownership changes. For example, a recently well regarded brand may have been recently bought by a competitor and mfg. facilities shuttered and windows of that legacy brand now produced in new owners factory to perhaps different quality level (also permitting warranty obligation escape of legacy product). Finally, my brief experience with in-home sales calls of big-volume replacement window sellers was dizzying. I was unprepared for the high-pressure sales model. (Think old-time vacuum cleaner salesman or old-school aluminum siding salesman with "must sign contract today to get this price").
Learnings and advice from this msg board led me to choose a local, well-recommended family owned installer who offered only Simonton brand windows.
Installed 23 double-hung and fixed panel windows (installed from exterior) and wrapped all exterior trim. Complete installed price approx. $500 per.
SC is comparatively mild climate and these Simonton 5500s may not be best solution for your climate. But, after living with them through a full season cycle we are pleased with them and would buy again.
In short, brace yourself for much confusion as you research windows. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 9:33AM
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There are numerous advantages to vinyl windows, whether in a new home or as replacements in older homes. They are energy efficient, easy to install, and effortless to maintain. One of the well-known advantages of windows made with vinyl is their superb degree of insulation. When compared with aluminum window frames, vinyl keeps in heat during winter but seals your rooms from heat during summer. Vinyl windows are made from a plastic called polyvinyl chloride, better known as our home, renovations were going on. The old windows were replaced by windows choice. The installers were professional, came on time and finished the job well.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 4:49AM
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Hello. Choosing windows is hell, I've found. What I learned shopping is:

- re channeling, etc - I can't tell one from another by diagram, but you can tell using demo windows if the things work well or not, whether the rain will be blocked, cold winds, etc.

look at and compare the locks - do you like how they handle and how they look, and where they are placed? Also those little side locks - will they break and can you replace them?

look at and compare the handles or lifts - vinyl windows are hard to lift w/o them.

biggest issue for me: losing window area. Some replacement windows have wider edges and sashes and you lose quite a bit of visibility. But the "narrow line" types can be a bit flimsy, so says every salesperson.

Second biggest issue for me: Aesthetics versus budget. I wanted beading on my windows so it fit better in my old house but any fancy sticking or beading can lead to more $.

What I want is Marvin or Andersen (great long-term service) but what I'll buy is Harvey Tribute.

FYI - here in Massachusetts, where everything is SO expensive, I just got a quote for $15,000 for 25 double hungs (set in pairs) and that includes carpentry to fix some stuff.

My window installer who is highly regarded around here said "Meh" to Simonton, btw.

Oh, also, warranty is super critical for install and for the product. They'll try and trick you by not mentioning things like prorating over time.

And as everyone says, its the installer that's so vital. Please, if you value your money, do NOT use Home Depot for anything. Anything at all. The company has no vested interest in who they contract with and the sad stories just never end.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 8:28PM
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Harvey tribute is NOT a good window. It is ok at best but to be honest, it has horrible energy energy efficiency numbers. I also think Harvey is somewhat flimsy. They only get a .30 total Ufactor with double pane glass when the top tier vinyl companies are getting .25 and .26.
Simonton is the same, poor energy efficiency numbers,
Look at okna, quantum 2, starmark, sunrise vanguard to name a few.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:08PM
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+1 to mmarsels advice. Lift rails and locks are nice little features that may help you make a final decision between 2 or 3 very similar products, but they do nothing to tell you what type of quality or performance to expect. Look at total unit u-factors, solar heat gain coefficient (shgc), and air infiltration ratings. Once you find one or more great performers in those areas, then you can look at aesthetics.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Quick update:

I found a solid, reputable local dealer/installer down here on the southern coast of Mississippi. Turns out the salesman and I were in the same unit in the military years ago, so he discounted everything as much as he could. The manufacturer is PGT and they are the 2100 series. He also waived other fees, such as the disposal fee, to bring the price down even lower. Also comes with a lifetime transferable warranty. He quoted me just over $6,500 total for 10 six foot, double hung windows with prairie grids on only 3 and 1 four foot by four foot horizontal sliding window with obscured safety glass since it's above a bathtub.

I think this is a pretty good price and I have not found/seen anything negative on PGT. Also, this quote for the PGT 2100 series beats out the price of $6,700 from Lowe's for the Pella ThermaStars, and I believe that was for the 10 series. I'm 95 percent sure we will go the PGT route with the local shop. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 8:37AM
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PGT makes good windows, particularly suited for the deep south. The pricing seems reasonable, certainly a much better purchase than the Pella windows you mentioned.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 8:54AM
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