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Old 01-18-2013, 11:13 AM   #1
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Replacement Window Advice


Over the past couple of weeks I have interviewed Lowe's who recommends their Atrium windows, Home Depot who recommends either their American Craftsman or Simonton windows, and Sears who is priced way out of the ballpark for me. Then there is Windows R US that is recommending their NT Window which is triple coated with an insulated frame. I have a 37 year old brick home in East Texas with the original aluminum frame single pane windows that need to be replaced. I listen to the everyone's pitch, they leave & I do my homework. The Atrium & the American Craftsman scare me when I read reviews. The Simonton has an excellent rating from JD Power & Associates & good reviews, but they are pricey. I can't find enough on NT Windows to be of any good in my research. I have an appt. today with Window World & tomorrow with Champion. After 2 weeks, I am no closer to making a decision now than I was then. I need unbiased opinions on a good window that will fit in my budget from someone that is not trying to sale me something. By profession I am in ministry work. I work for a non-profit ministry & do not make a lot of money, so it is important that I get this right the 1st time. I need to replace the windows to reduce my energy bills, making the home more affordable for me. Any advice or help from professionals will be much appreciated.

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Old 01-18-2013, 11:35 AM   #2
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bob, imho, you are going down the wrong path in terms of the "types" of companies that you are considering. My recommendation would be to talk to some local window/exteriors specialty companies. Generally you'll find folks that are more passionate about what they do, meaning better product offering, better service, and quite possibly better pricing when comparing apples to apples. If you are considering vinyl, high quality is PARAMOUNT in a climate like TX. Softlite and Sunrise are available down there, and are a couple of the top vinyl windows that you'll find. Thermally broken aluminum and fiberglass should be valid choices in your location as well... In order to cut through all of the tricks and gimmicks that will be thrown at you by the salesperson, there is actually a pretty easy and effective way to compare quality and performance: the thermal and structural performance ratings. They are third party tested, and they will tell you what all of the other fancy stuff (gas fill, foam fill, upvc, sash reinforcement, etc, etc) actually means, in terms of how it ACTUALLY affects the performance of the window. They will also be a very good indicator of the quality of a given unit. Compare U value (total unit, not center of glass, lower is better) , SHGC (should be a lower number for your climate), DP/Design pressure (structural integrity), and AI/Air infiltration (that one is pretty self explanatory ).... I don't know the geography of TX, but if you are near Houston, I'd recommend Ultra windows, or if you are near DFW, Taylor and Young. Owners of both of those companies are great guys.

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Old 01-18-2013, 11:42 AM   #3
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Main advice would be to forget about any box store quotes!
My price is often about 1/2 what a box store will charge for the exact same window.
Are you going to replace these yourself?
Ever done something like this before?

I've been using Wincor and Simonton windows for many years and never had a call back for anything.

All windows come with spec. compare the info to make sure your compairing apples to apples.
All manufactures have differant grades of windows so you can not just go by the brand name.

http://www.ehow.com/facts_6875247_co...t-windows.html
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:16 PM   #4
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HomeSealed - Thanks for the advice & steering me in a better direction. I will contact the companies near DFW & see what they have to offer & if they will come out this way; I am about 100 miles east of the DFW Metro-mess area. Through my research I have learned about the U-Factor & SHGC (I've actually learned more about windows than I wanted to know), and went to the NF something or another web site. Thanks again.

Joecaption - No I am not going to do the install myself. I know my limitations & will hire professionals to do the work for me. Thank you also for the advice on staying away from the big box stores & searching for a local company to do the work. I would much rather deal with a smaller family owned company anyway.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:29 PM   #5
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The previous owner of my house had Simonton installed by home depot. The window itself is a great one. From what I understand Home Depot contracts out their work, and takes a big cut for themselves. As a result their prices are pretty high compare to other contractors. The one thing with Home Depot is that you do have a recourse with them if something goes wrong. Its a big company and after enough time you will get your issues solved if any. American Craftsman is a budget oriented window, that is only ok at best. I found them to be a little drafty if not perfectly installed, and sometimes even if they were. They are made by the SilverLine company that is a subsidiary of Andersen. Really mediocre windows but if you are on a tight budget, not the worst window in the world. I just installed a basement hopper window special ordered from HD and its not bad at all.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:40 PM   #6
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That would be the nfrc Bob, and that is really a good start. The thing that I would caution is that you don't stop there. The NFRC tests the thermal ratings which are predominantly affected by the glass package. Since there are only a handful of glass manufacturers that supply thousands of window manufacturers, you want to look a little bit deeper at the structural ratings, mainly AI and DP. These ratings are tested by independent laboratories to AAMA specifications. As I mentioned earlier, these ratings are invaluable when it comes to determining the quality of the design and assembly of a given product. Better scores= a product that is stronger, tighter, and thus will last longer and perform better over it's lifespan. Unfortunately, the glass itself has very little to do with how the frame and mechanicals are constructed. You may find that some companies (several of those that you are considering, in fact) will "poo-poo" these ratings or dance around the subject and never give them to you, simply because they do not perform well in those areas... Some of my more astute customers have actually put together excel docs and such where they breakdown all of the pertinent information about the products that they are considering, from ratings to warranty to price, etc. It is a very effective way to get past all of the fast-talking that the salesmen will do.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russiand View Post
The one thing with Home Depot is that you do have a recourse with them if something goes wrong. Its a big company and after enough time you will get your issues solved if any.
This may be true but if you hire a local contractor who provides a long list of verifiable references then you know you are hiring someone who stands behind their work. If a problem arises, one call to the owner will usually suffice rather than back and forth with store managers and department associates and the like. That can be a very frustrating experience.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:40 AM   #8
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Want to tell that to a new customer I have that had Lowes, install all new windows, siding, decking and hand rails.
1/2 the Windows will not open, some of the siding is falling off and was not locked into the starter strips, the bottom rail on the railings was installed up side down and with steel screws, with no center supports.
The decking has a curved area in the middle of it that looks like they used a chain saw to make the cuts and the exposure runs from nothing to 2" and back down to nothing.
Over $17,000 worth of work that has to all be redone.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:53 AM   #9
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That is truly a shame joe. Certainly that is on the extreme end of what can happen, but more often and possibly even more troublesome is when everything looks "ok" at the end of the job, only for major problems to arise later because corners were cut.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:03 AM   #10
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For some reason they had decide to add a 1X 12 piece of wood at the bottom of the wall and wraped it with coil stock which would have been ok but they did not turn it up at the top to form some form of flashing, face nailed all over the place, used starter strip instead of J moulding, so there's was no way for it to lock in place.
Now water gets in behind it causing the wood to cup, the metal is all buckeled up, and the sidings just flopping around at the bottom.
All Lowes is willing to do is supply the materials to redo it.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Want to tell that to a new customer I have that had Lowes, install all new windows, siding, decking and hand rails.
1/2 the Windows will not open, some of the siding is falling off and was not locked into the starter strips, the bottom rail on the railings was installed up side down and with steel screws, with no center supports.
The decking has a curved area in the middle of it that looks like they used a chain saw to make the cuts and the exposure runs from nothing to 2" and back down to nothing.
Over $17,000 worth of work that has to all be redone.
Lowe's and HD, they rely soley on the contractor for expertise. If the contractor the HO gets is not good then this is what can happen. Lowe's will usually send out another contractor to fix it if the HO allows. It is a shame that this happens.

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