Looking for feedback on quality of windows

Old 03-14-23, 10:52 AM
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Looking for feedback on quality of windows

Looking for knowledgeable feedback about windows to avoid and which are of acceptable quality.
It appears there there are more vinyls out there than last time I looked. Some reviews say vinyls crack and warp. Not a good thing for me. Also not interested in just a white frame.

Especially interested in feedback about quality windows that are reasonably priced. Wood with aluminum clad probably, but I really don't know what is all out there and eager to learn.

Need windows for northern latitudes. We get -20 and lots of snow in the winter and into the 90s in the summer.

Last edited by GaryMN; 03-14-23 at 11:25 AM.
Old 03-14-23, 10:11 PM
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Since you live in Minnesota, my first recommendation is to look into triple pane windows for improved insulation value.

I suspect that you aren't aware (honestly no reason you should be), but Minnesota is considered by many people in the industry to be something of the silicone valley of glass and windows in North America; which is a bit of a stretch, but still a lot of window and glass knowledge around here.

Per your thoughts on vinyl windows, I live about an hour NE of the cities and I have vinyl windows that are 17 years old and look and operate as good as the day they were installed. If you buy top quality vinyl windows, you won't have any trouble with cracking and such, however the downside is that there a lot more mediocre or even bad vinyl windows available than good ones, unfortunately.

What's your definition of "acceptable quality"? Is your primary concern longevity, energy performance, cost?
To slightly reask your original question......

Looking for knowledgeable feedback about cars to avoid and which are of acceptable quality.
It appears there there are more cars out there than last time I looked. Some reviews say some cars crack and warp. Not a good thing for me. Also not interested in just a white body.

See my point on your question?

The more you can tell us about your needs and wants and expectations, the easier it is to help you out with your ultimate decision. How much you know about windows? How much about energy performance?
The more you tell us here, the more we can pass back to you.

In the meantime, if you have looked for vinyl windows in a big box store, then you won't find anything approaching acceptable quality in any of those.

Menards carries several different window brands and I wouldn't recommend any of them, wood, vinyl, or otherwise.

Home Depot carries Andersen (I assume you know where they are made), and AW makes some very nice products, but they don't make a all vinyl window, so they are an option depending on what you want.
HD also carries what they call American Craftsman which is nothing more than a rebranded SilverLine, a very popular window with some builders because it's cheap, it's also a total bottom feeder product.

Lowes carries Pella. Pella vinyl is a near neighbor to SilverLine in quality and longevity....meaning don't expect much of either.

There are some very good vinyl windows as well, if you might be interested. And you can get vinyl windows that aren't bright white. The better companies have a pallet of colors available.

The pluses of vinyl is often the lowest price on average and often the best energy performance numbers as well. The biggest downside is that the bottom feeder products outnumber the best products so you have to be very careful.

Are you familiar with fiberglass windows?? If not, google Marvin Essential and Elevate and see what you think of them.

Wood and wood clad can be beautiful, but you are paying for that aesthetic. Wood windows are going to need maintenance if you want them to last, but typically it's not too big of a deal as long as you purchase a higher quality window. But with wood windows, you will be getting what you pay for, and like vinyl, there might be more bad ones than good ones unfortunately.

Have you thought about the part you can see through?? Window glass has come a long way from being a single sheet of clear, easy to break, glass. You will have options of how many layers or glass, coatings on glass for improved energy performance, gas fills between glass panes also for energy performance.


Last edited by Oberon; 03-14-23 at 10:26 PM.
Old 03-14-23, 10:22 PM
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I'm a Marvin fan - have had them in three homes. Andersen makes good stuff but the price is too high, IMO. Not much experience with them but my in-laws used Pella about 18 years ago when they built a new home and they;ve been decent.
Old 03-14-23, 10:41 PM
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Asking for window recommendations is about like asking what car to buy or what breakfast cereal to eat. No, I take that back, those questions are easier to answer.

You need to decide on the parameters. Quality and reasonably priced aren't really going to be found in the same window. Course that depends what you think is reasonable. What you think is reasonable and what I think are reasonable are 2 different things. I started putting in windows in 1991.

If you look at vinyl, I agree with a lot of what Oberon said. One vinyl window I was impressed with a while back was Gerkin Comfort Series 4300. You can get 2 tone, (different color inside/out). Even available in black believe it or not. They are in Sioux City, IA.

Most important thing with vinyl IMO is to get the best glass package you can. I have seen a lot of glass sweat on vinyl windows... and some of that is just due to poor performance glass making the frames cold and vis versa. There are a variety of glass options to choose from with about any window you buy. Like picking out toppings on a pizza.

For wood with clad exteriors I like Andersen 400s if you go with wood and don't need aluminum. Marvin Integrity is nice... and their Ultrex is very durable. Pella is okay... cladding is thin and service is horrible. But their interiors, wood and options are nice. Marvin Ultimate is really nice. But you get what you pay for. I've put in a few Lincoln windows, they're nice and average.

Problem is people don't know what to look for, and don't recognize quality (or crap) when they see it. And that's something that's hard to describe in words. If it were only as easy as comparing taking a Yugo for a test drive, then jumping in a Cadillac. But it's not. It's more like trying to help someone who can't see the difference between a Yugo and a Cadillac. I've about given up trying.

It's like you have to educate people about what to look for from the ground up. Then once you learn a few things to look for, it builds value in the product. And then you can see why the $1000 window is so much better than the $250 window that you wonder why you even considered it in the first place.

But even that education is difficult because people's eyes start to glaze over as you start to talk about it. And not too many people really want to spend the time to educate themselves first. They think there is an easy answer to the question... "which window?"

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