Windows or not to Windows (Advice Needed)

msk59December 1, 2011

Hello All: OK I am starting a new request for Replacement Windows. House Built 1976; Location Topeka, KS; Current Windows: Single Pane Wood with Al. Storm Windows. The exterior of the house: Front Brick fascia side and rear is siding. Reason for replacing Windows: Energy Saving and Looks. The current windows are just too old and on windy days howls. Total # of Windows 12, 8 facing West; 2 facing South; two East. These windows are simple rectangle. nothing fancy. House style is Split level.

To date I have two estimates: One from Renewal by Anderson; original quoted $18K when I said no, it was dropped to $13K. Second one that I got a while back is for Imperial LS Windows double hung double pane White Virgin Vinyl windows for around $7500 installed by a local KC business. The more I am reading about the replacement windows is the more scary it is getting with all the unsatisfied folks on every forum.

So the big Question is Which Window (Vinyl, wood, fiberglass or composite). It does not matter which type you guys recommend.

Thanks very much in advance.

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Well, first let me say that your quote on the Imperial LS looks decent. Pricing is subject to a lot of factors, but that is a great window at a price within the range of reason. The RBA is okay (not as good imo), and clearly the price is excessive. In only the most extreme cases (complicated install, loaded up options) should a replacement window ever approach $1000+.
On materials, they all have their advantages:
Wood: Beauty
Composite: Looks (depending on model), won't rot, often with better performance than wood.
Vinyl: Performance, price, less maintenance (no painting, won't rot), and best warranty.
I sell all three depending on circumstances and my clients goals for their project, but overall, vinyl presents the best value if you are not set one way or the other.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 7:09AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


Pricing on the Imperial LS looks pretty consistent and is certainly not out of the norm depending on what the install details are.

If your aesthetic requirements are just a white window and you don't have any aversions to vinyl, you cannot beat the performance, value, and durability of good vinyl. The advantages to most of the other materials (despite the claims by those manufacturers) is most aesthetic and appearance.

The LS is one of the 5 best windows out there in vinyl in my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 7:38AM
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I agree. The Imperial LS is a very nice window and would serve you well. If you like the vinyl windows, I would also see if you can find a dealer for Sunrise, Okna or Gorell. All have great reputations for consistent quality, long term durability and very good performance.

If you decide on wood, I'd look at Marvin or Andersen 400 series.

The main objective at this point is you just need to take a look at a few windows so you can decide on wood, vinyl, fiberglass or a composite.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 8:27AM
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To understand this better, is it correct to say:
1) If its a wood window, the guts of the window is wood, with the inside being wood and the outside being wood or clad(aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass) or a composite material.
2) If its vinyl, the guts of the window is vinyl, with inside and outside being vinyl
3) Same for fiberglass.
4) Same for composite.

OR do they all have wood guts and various materials inside and outside.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 1:26PM
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You've got it!... With the only caveat being that for many wood windows, the wood interior is not necessarily the structural component, at least not the primary one.
Some windows (particularly vinyl) will also have other materials for reinforcement(fg, composite, wood) inside their chambers to add strength. Whether this is necessary or not depends entirely on the design of the window.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Ok I took the day off and actually went to KC to actually check on the Imperial LS Windows in person. The floor model of both Berington and LS were side by side. what I like about the LS is its Kevlar inner material; virgin vinyl; outside screen that covers both sashes; lifetime warranty on Windows and lifetime warranty on installation. The local guys that I spoke to are a family business for 18 years and that is what they do. they also sell Anderson Windows wood and they told me that energy saving wise LS is better. So I think I am going to pull the trigger on Imperial LS double pane, double hung virgin vinyl windows. Price is also a big factor in decision making. Please advice otherwise.
Thanks in advance

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 5:48PM
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Now that you have heard from all the window salespersons who seem to hover around this forum, let me make a few suggestions. My company sells and installs all types of windows, wood, vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum and steel, so we are not the least slanted toward one type or another.

Despite all the nonsense you hear from the wood window advocates, there is nothing inherently wrong with a vinyl window. Personally, I think wood windows are more appealing aesthetically, but they are also usually quite a bit more costly. So, it's always a trade-off. Here is what I would do were I buying a vinyl window:

1. Vinyl windows have a bad reputation for warping and deforming. Some of it is deserved. Plastic expands and contracts with weather changes much more than wood, so there is more chance that over time the frame and sash members will deform slightly causing broken seals and air leaks. The bad reputation, however, is based on how the windows performed 10-15 years ago. Today's vinyl windows are better, certainly not perfect, but the deformation is more controlled than it was. Still, after a few years, expect some degradation in thermal performance. Look for a window that is warrantied against warping and deformation by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer does not have enough confidence in its windows to guarantee them against structural deformation, then you shouldn't have much confidence in the window either. Look for windows with welded corner seams on the sashes. Almost all vinyl window manufacturers now weld, but there are still some holdouts that rely on mechanical fastening. Without going into the pros and cons of welding, generally welded corners are stronger, less likely to deform, and less likely to leak over time.

2. Vinyl is not a strong structural material. The various shapes used for frames and sashes give it more rigidity, but it usually needs to be reinforced with steel or aluminum at critical spots for maximum longevity. Look for a steel reinforced window -- especially if the window is a large window. Some manufactures reinforce only their larger windows.

3. If you want to find out what a window manufacturer actually thinks of its window, ignore the advertising hype and look at the warranty. The warrant reveals just how confident the maker is in the product. At minimum look for:

a. Lifetime warranty. The warranty should guarantee you against window failure for as long as you own it.

b. Parts and labor. The warranty should guarantee to pay the cost of both the parts required to fix a defect, and the labor required to do so. And it should guarantee that a window that cannot be fixed will be replaced at no cost to you. Avoid "parts-only" warranties. The labor is usually much more expensive than the part.

c. Exceptions. Look closely at the exceptions clause of the warranty. Every warranty will exclude abuse, neglect, acts of God, improper installation, wars, riots, insurrections and normal wear and tear, but some will exclude things you do not expect, such as discoloration. White vinyl can turn yellow over time. So make sure this is covered.

d. If it's not mentioned, it's not covered. Many times you will see vinyl warrantied against "cracking, peeling, separating, splitting" etc., all the things vinyl cannot possibly do, but no mention of "warping" or "deformation". If warping is not listed, it is not covered. By the way, a warranty against "fading" does not usually cover discoloration (which is not fading). Make sure discoloration is covered.

e. The warranty should state a time within which the manufacturer must act on your claim, otherwise you claim could drag on for a long, long time.

4. Warranty phrases to watch out for.

a. Manufacturer warranties are what lawyers call "express warranties" and are nothing more than a statement by the manufacturer of what if will do to correct a defect without being sued. You also have other warranties created by statute or common law. These "implied warranties" include a warranty of merchantability, which merely means that the window must be free of both evident and latent defects, a warranty of Fitness for Purpose, which means that it must work as a window should. DO NOT UNDER ANY CONDITION WAIVE THESE COMMON LAW WARRANTIES. Which means READ the sales contract. Bus suspicious of any phrase that contains the words "waive" or "waiver". If you find them, consult a lawyer.

b. If the warranty is for the "lifetime of the original purchaser" or words to that effect, and you are the only person on the contract, then when you die, the warranty is over, even if your spouse still lives. Make sure that both of you sign the contract as purchasers. In fact, include one of more of your children as purchasers.

c. If the warranty is for "as long as the original purchaser owns the house" or some such, then if you subsequently transfer the property to a trust, as many do when they get to be of a certain age, then the warranty is over. You no longer own the house. Make sure that one of the original purchases continues to have some ownership interest in the house, if only 1%.

d. Watch out for merger clauses. These are statements in the warranty that the warranty document is the sole expression of the warranty, and promises made outside the warranty are of no effect. If the manufacture's salesman makes you a promise, get it in writing, and make sure the writing states that it is a an exception to the merger clause of the warranty.

5. Installation. Make sure your agreement with your installer requires him to install your windows "in accordance with the window manufacturer's installation instructions". Attach a copy of the manufacturer's installation instructions to the contract. If he does not install IAW the manufacturer's instruction, your warranty may be void.

6. Things that are nice to have in a warranty, but not strictly necessary: Glass breakage, and the right to transfer the warranty to a subsequent purchaser of your house.

Good window hunting.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 5:33PM
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"b. Parts and labor. The warranty should guarantee to pay the cost of both the parts required to fix a defect, and the labor required to do so. And it should guarantee that a window that cannot be fixed will be replaced at no cost to you. Avoid "parts-only" warranties. The labor is usually much more expensive than the part. "

Name six manufacturers who offer this level of coverage on a lifetime transferable basis.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 11:49PM
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you can include wood manufacturers in that list of 6 as well

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 8:48AM
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You don't actually expect him to respond do you?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:01AM
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not really, but thought I would throw that out there, lol

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 10:30AM
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To the original poster,

Don't be discouraged by xoldtimecarpenter's commentary. As it was mentioned by the other posters (you know "all the window salespersons who seem to hover around this forum"), there is not a wood window warranty that is any more solid than most of the good vinyl warranties.

If vinyl is suitable for your application, run with it.

I wonder what warranty you might get on a restored window?

xoldtimecarpenter is a bit of a wounded soul because he has gotten repeatedly schooled in a thread that he started over here where he demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of what he claims to be an expert about.

Here is a link that might be useful: xoldtimecarpenter putting his foot in his mouth

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 11:56AM
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First of all thanks to all of you for responding to my thread and providing very usable information about the subject. As I mentioned in the first post, the original windows are what they say contractor grade single pane windows with storm windows on the outside. I believe the windows are original to the house (1976). From the above discussion, one important question:

Six of my windows face West, where in summer, sun hits in the afternoon for about 3 to 4 hours. Should these Vinyl windows can handle that much direct sunlight. (This happens to be the front of the house as well)

Once again thanks to you all for this much help.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 8:40PM
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Warping will not be a problem as long as you stay with the better grades of vinyl windows. You are also going to be required to have a test for lead paint per EPA.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:01PM
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One additional question:

If I go ahead now and order the windows, It will be six to eight windows before the windows are ready for install, that would be the middle of the Winter. Is there any harm in installing the windows in cold weather? Does insulation/caulking need higher temps to cure? I live in Topeka KS.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:11PM
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You should be fine as long as the installer has experience installing in colder weather. Assuming he uses OSI Quad caulk, the cure time is about 24 hours. We always recommend waiting that long before opening and closing the windows or you run the risk of breaking the bead. And don't stick your fingers in the caulk to see if it's cured yet. :)

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:30PM
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As a window installer who started his own company, (3 and 4 generations in the biz on either side of our family), I am far from a window "sales guy". The funny thing is it sounds as though most people on this forum were actually doing research on windows (or actually installing them) while the oldtimer was too busy crafting homemade shims with his hand planer.... You have heard of power tools, right? ... Ironically his whole spiel about warranty coverage sounds far more like sales-guy bs than any of the other advice that has been offered.
... The LS is a very solid product (which I do not sell), and it will serve you well. Nice choice.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 10:19PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Good vinyl is suitable for use in the desert. Your application will not even touch the surface of what good vinyl can perform at. Heat of deformation on vinyl is above 160�.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 10:26PM
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How does Imperial LS compare to Simonton vinyl windows?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 10:54AM
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The Softlite Imperial L/S is one of the top performing windows on the market. What Simonton model are you comparing it to?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 10:59AM
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Home depot vantage point 6100 and 6500

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 11:49AM
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The Imperial L/S is a higher quality windows than either of those 2 and a better performer. In fact the 6100 is Simonton entry level window. More suited for a rental init or someone on a very tight budget. I you cannot afford the L/S, I would contact a Simonton dealer and aske them to show you the Reflections 5500/Prism Platinum or the Reflections 5050/Prism Bronze. These are the same windows HD is showing you but you will likely get a better price from a local Simonton dealer

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 5:28PM
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Once again thanks to Skydawggy and others for their much valuable and needed information. I forgot to mention that the lead tests etc are included in the price I was quoted. This is the cash price and credit is about $200 more. Also two of my windows in my formal living room will be wood color so about 260 more for those two windows.

Thanks again and wish me good luck

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 2:12PM
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Msk59, are you going with Simonton or Imperial LS?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 2:44PM
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Since we're talking about warranties a little bit here...

What do you think of Gorell's warranty?

Here is a link that might be useful: Gorell Warranty

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:13PM
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I'm not a Gorell dealer but I can tell you they make a very nice window and their customer service is top notch. Was there a specific point you wanted to discuss?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:29PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Well built window and a solid company. My only criticism would be that they seem to be a bit behind the technology curve right now.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 9:25AM
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I have had very good success with Gorell's product. They are not out in front of the pack as it pertains to innovation as WoW alluded to, however there quality is very good and their service is top notch. I've never seen a warranty issue denied for any reason... One thing that I'd add to the warranty discussion is that the dealer that you choose will play a large role in the warranty service, as he will be the one determining any problems, ordering and installing parts, etc. Most manufacturers besides the big guys (Pella, Anderson, etc)do not have service divisions and rely on their dealer network to service the products that they've installed.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 12:48PM
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We are needing to replace our windows. Our house was built in 1988. We live in St. Louis, MO. We currently have builder grade aluminum windows. I very much like the windows except for the condesation that happens during the winter time. I assumed I could solve this problem by getting newer aluminum windows with a thermal break. But, per a window installer who came to the house to provide a quote (Genesco), he commented the aluminum windows we have already have a thermal break.

So, my question: Is there an aluminum window out there that provides a decent amount of insulation. Or is that an oxymoron? I, like other people who have posted, am somewhat paralyzed by the complexities of picking a window that will work well.

Another question: I saw the Pella vinyl windows. They had two styles--the entry level and then the next higher level. On the next higher level the entire frame was smooth. There was no seam where the corner of the frames met. Since there was no seam, does this mean the corners were not welded, and therefore, the window will not hold up as well?

Thanks so very much for any input.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 12:56AM
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Aluminum windows are fine in warmer climates, not so much where it is cold.
The pella 350 series is welded, they just do a nice job of cleaning up their welds. It doesn't boast elite performance ratings and Pella's reputation is not what it once was, but that product at the very least is a major step up from that thermostar product.
... You might consider starting your own thread to get better feedback. ;)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 7:13AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


The Pella 350 is leaps and bounds from their ThermaStar window but it still relies on a pocket sill which is not ideal in my opinion.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:43AM
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