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This is bewildering: where do I start?

Posted by andalee (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 13, 10 at 17:37

DH and I are starting to build a home. First phase is the carriage house, and we need to choose windows. The last time we built, it was a high-end home, and we went with top-of-the-line aluminum-clad wood casements from Sierra Pacific. They were gorgeous . . . but a TON of work (getting them installed correctly, staining, cleaning the divided lights, etc). This time around we're building a more traditional, simple farmhouse-style home, and I'm wanting a lower-maintenance window, yet something that's going to last for more than 10-15 years. (Preferrably for 40 or more.)

I like the idea of vinyl, but the opinions are SO varied, from fear-tactic photos at myth-busting sites to "vinyl windows are every bit as good as everything else, if not better".

I just don't know where to start . . . I'm leery of just going to a local place (as we've been burned by that before), but I'm not sure what else to do, as I can't personally judge for myself the bewildering array of options and jargon that's out there.

Any ideas or advice on how to start? Besides taking a nap, which will help me wrap my head around this better. ;o)

Thanks so much!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

Being a window expert virtually my entire career I would suggest you realize it's not nearly as complicated as it may seem. You have basically worked through the decision already just in your brief posting. The window choice you have boiled it down to is called an RBA window (Renewal By Andersen). Many years ago I used to sell and install these windows and I will tell you they are expensive but well worth the money. It's a composite window so it's a blend of the best qualities of wood and vinyl. Extremely low maintenance, beautiful and will easily last 40 years because of the durability of the composite material. Take a look at them first and let me know if you have any questions. I love talking about windows!

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

rsktkr, the home they are building is a new home, why would you recommend Renewal by Andersen which is a REPLACEMENT WINDOW!!!!!!!

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

Hilarious. Good eye millworkman. A so-called "window expert" recommends and RBA window for a new construction application. They really have you RBA guys trained up well to recommend an insert window with a 10 year warranty.


Vinyl windows are somewhat regional when it comes to the smaller boutique manufacturers. Where is the home located.

Some of the best vinyl windows available today are Okna, Soft-Lite, and Sunrise.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

Are you guys grown men? Grow up.
I did read past the fact that it's new construction. Sorry guys, relax your egos a bit, people make mistakes.
I stay in touch with my past customers forever and the RBA windows we installed are all in perfect shape. It's a great product but contractors that don't qualify to sell/install them get bashed by them so they criticize. Human nature. That's probably what's going on with these two clowns.

Todays vinyl windows are strong and beautiful without the maintenance issues and can even be ordered in select colors. 40 years is a long time though, especially for a vinyl window. The conditions would have to be extremely favorable for them to last that long. In my opinion, the only other real option other than vinyl would be the Integrity by Marvin (Ultrex)series. This is a strong fiberglass frame window (yes, new construction) with plenty of options and no maintenance. Much stronger than vinyl with far less expansion and contraction concerns as with vinyl. Expansion and contraction is the ultimate cause of failure in windows.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

The entire first paragraph of the post detailed that they were building a home and their past experiences.

You missed that?

You took what was an open ended question and directed her to an RBA window which had no more to do with her question than any other vinyl window and even less when you figure the lack of a new construction option and those guys that poked fun at your poorly veiled effort to spam are the buffoons?

Most contractors that I see push the RBA window are the real buffoons of the industry. Sleazy sales tactics, spamming message boards, outright lies about competitive materials, and outrageous prices for an average performance window.

You further demonstrate your lack of window knowledge by invoking the expansion and contraction BS that RBA and fiberglass manufacturers promote. All glass systems are independent of the sash material and expansion and contraction rates have it affect on window longevity.

If expansion and contraction is an issue, won't the RBA window suffer some because it is 70% vinyl resins? Couple that with the 30% wood content and you have a window that expands and contracts with both temperature and moisture. That is the worst of both worlds.

By you math, wood doesn't expand at all with temperature so the glass in a wood window should last for ever then?

Fiberglass is much stronger than vinyl...? Can you tell me if the Design Pressure (DP) on the Integrity is higher or lower than a Soft-Lite Elements? I can and its lower. So much for the superior strength of fiberglass.

Look, your BS got called and you are bitter. It is understandable as your type of misinformation is only suitable if you are presenting to a customer that has not done their research. The posters on this board are smarter than that and caught you in your BS.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

I appreciate the myth-busting that has gone on here, everyone . . . but it would be really nice to actually get some suggestions along with the clarifications. ;o)

We're building in the Inland Northwest, in a forested region near Canada. Summertime highs can reach near 110F (they usually reach above 100F for a week or more), and the lows can get down to -30 (routinely they're 0F to -10F). It's more humid than Utah (by a long shot), but not as humid as Western Oregon or Washington.

Hopefully that info will help with productive answers . . . :o) Next?

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

I posted suggestions in my original reply.

Okna is probably not available in your area, Sunrise and Soft-Lite should be.

Keep a moderately high SHGC but get the best thermal number you can. If the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar benefits, you will want a higher SHGC which will all but eliminate triple pane IGUs.

You can control winter loss of energy with thermal shades when the sun goes down. Same can be said for the infrared gain of heat during the summer months.

Look for a well built windows with good DP and low Air Infiltration rates.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

The use of the term "carriage house" suggests a renovation because it would be pretentious if not ridiculous to use that term to describe a new garage.

People here only know what they are told and that is too often misleading or just plain silly.

Of course, claiming to be a window expert is pretty silly too.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

Thank you, windowsonwashington, for your suggestions. That info will be very helpful as a place to start.

macv, maybe it's a regional thing, but the definition commonly used around here (and where I've researched designs for our carriage house, both online and in print) is a garage with living space above it. It is new construction, as I stated clearly in my opening post, and I don't feel I deserve the less than complimentary allusions you've made. Yes, people only know what they are told, which is one of the largest downfalls of text-only communication. But the goal is to inquire back and forth until understanding is reached, not condemn or call names.

I would really love it if further replies could ***please*** stick to recommendations or questions in response to my original question. Thank you.

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

Fiberglass and/or composite windows:
Most major window manufactures have been trying for years to solve the window question with fiberglass. "Owens Corning" (you know the in the pink), They gave up the effort years back. So that should tell everyone something! There has been literally more companies that have tried and given up on this type of product because of the following listed obstacles.

Yet still several companies are still trying to offer an incomplete line up of products. Windows combinations and lack of support fiberglass shapes, and substitution of Vinyl products to fill in these areas.
� Pella "impervia"
� Marvin " Integrity"
� WeatherShield "Fiberglass-clad / wood"
� Anderson "Renewal by Andersen"

The basic problem lies with;
1. Holding the glass in place within the sash, attaining water and air seal, not to mention water tight corners. Fiberglass glass stops and mulling covers cannot be effectively utilized.
2. Special shapes or combinations mulling of different materials is problematic at best and down played.
3. Various other plastics or vinyl�s must be used, Resulting in product fade issued as well as reliability issues.
4. Glass is glass! Thermal issues in some climates unless 100% thermally separated inside from outside.
5. There is a very good possibility of paint adhesion problems down the road if you paint them! "one of the reason they include the color in the pultrusion process.
On the plus side, if you only need single (stand alone windows) fiberglass could be a good choice, replacing the glass and avoiding cracked glass is another concern, due to the grove glazing or glass stop problems.

Advice: Once you paint you probably will be painting again and again!
Take the factory finish or move on�

RE: This is bewildering: where do I start?

So, we talked with the local builder's supply place that we've chosen to deal with. (Local faces, they provide the warranty service, great business ethic, and we've dealt with them before.) The saleswoman (new since our last building project) we spoke with recommended Ply Gem windows at the top of the list, and said that in the three years she's been selling them, (6-8 house packages per week), they've only had 2-3 warranty repairs. It sounded good, the windows looked good, operated very nicely, etc.


I haven't been able to find much good about them online. The company website doesn't show any cutaway diagrams, and it's hard for me to have any idea of their quality. DH is pushing for the builder grade Ply Gems, but I simply can't feel good about that.

Suggestions? Can anyone point me towards a source of solid info to back up my reluctance?

Thanks again . . .

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