Working Windows Would Be Welcome

Our windows are crap. Plain and simple.

{what the master bedroom looked like “before”}

They’re cheap vinyl replacement windows that have outlived their usefulness and need to be replaced. Some don’t open. Some don’t close. Some have cracked glass. Seals are broken. You can see daylight between the jamb & sashes. Locks have failed. Nearly all the sashes are sagging. More than half are drafty.

I’ve seen better windows sitting on the side of the road on bulk trash day.

Scrolling through the Energy Star Federal Tax Credit website, I realized that the $1,500 window tax credit expires this year. How serendipitous.

So I’m looking for advice. Here’s the deal –

  1. To receive the max $1500 credit, you only have to spend $5,000 {installation not included; tax is}. Due to budget constraints, I think we’ll be sticking right around that magic number.
  2. The house has 20 windows total; 18 double hung, 2 small basement awning style {one of which has a dryer vent coming through it}. They range in height from 53″-83″.
    And – in case you’re wondering – 83″ puts us in the “Monumental” line with Anderson. Ouch.
  3. I’d like wood windows. Stained the same color as my floors; dark but not too dark. With white trim.
  4. It’s a historic house, vinyl replacements just aren’t going to cut it. That said, I’ve also heard rumors about a composite material that looks like wood but is more energy efficient. Not sure if that’s true or not. Any insight?
  5. I know $5,000 isn’t going to do all the windows but I would like to get the best value for our money.

Right now I’m looking into the big 3 – Pella, Anderson, & Marvin. The contractor I had out yesterday was also saying good things about a brand called Preservation but 1) I’ve never heard of them and 2) he wasn’t sure if they did wood.

Y’all were such a help with the floor stain & dishwasher decisions {& a billion other things}, would you oblige me again?

Any suggestions? What kind of windows do you have? Do you like them? What would you avoid like the plague? Anything you wish you did differently? Or plan to do in the future? DIY or pro installation? Tips & tricks?

I’m a sponge. Learn me.

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19 Responses to Working Windows Would Be Welcome

  1. I did an apartment renovation project where we used Sun windows (contractor-owner’s choice, not ours). Clad exteriors and wood interiors with simulated divided lights (with shadow bar). They look great.

    A coworker uses Semco and loves them. Good quality, great prices.

  2. Sacha says:

    Consumer Reports rated Pella ProLine and Andersen 200 Series Tilt-Wash as Best Buys for replacement windows. Pella ProLine got mixed reviews from users on the site, three good and three bad. Andersen 200 Series Tilt-Wash had no user reviews on the site. Consumer Reports also recommended Andersen 400 Series Tilt-Wash and 4/5 user reviews agreed. The only brand that scored better than the three listed recommendations above was Marvin, both the Clad Ultimate (two glowing user reviews) and Wood Ultrex Integrity (also two glowing user reviews) lines.

    Good luck!

  3. MEA says:

    Please post your decision as ours are in rough shape as well! We only have 8 little ones and 2 doublewides to replace though…

  4. Deb says:

    I have the Anderson Tilt Wash on my second story. Very handy when it comes time to clean the outside of them 🙂 I do have to say though that thier seals and the locks haven’t held very well – in my opinion anyway (They are about 10 years old).

  5. annaa says:

    I hope this doesn’t burst your bubble. Maybe windows are just expensive in our part of the world but… we spent $2500 on eight windows. They meet the requirements for energy efficient windows, but they are crap. We had a family member order them for us (he’s a contractor), so they came out cheaper than they would have otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, they look great, the work and all that jazz, and keep the heat in… but if you know what to look for in windows, you’ll know they’re crap. The finish on them isn’t great. We’ve had to sand down a few places. The consolation is that once our curtains/shades are up, no one will really be seeing them up close and personal.

    So spend your money wisely. Shop around! Talk to the window people. If anyone doesn’t seem to know what they are talking about when you go in for a consultation, run in the other direction! Windows are no joke, and it pays to talk with someone who knows a thing or two. Also, don’t forget to factor in the installation cost. Thankfully, our family member did that for us and saved us a lot.


    • Don’t worry Annaa; you’re certainly not bursting any bubbles. I’m not under any delusions that $5,000 will buy 20 awesome new windows. I think doing them in stages, as the cash can be saved up, is the more realistic solution. The goal is to not put windows in again for a veryyyyyyyyyyy long time; do it right the first time, ya know? Thanks for the advice!!!

  6. Callista says:

    I would buy the best replacement windows you can with all of the money you have now, and use these for the rest of your windows:

    They’re film that you place on your drafty windows. They apparently block TONS of energy from coming and going through your old windows, and drastically drop the cost of your utility bills. I saw them on Wa$ted on Planet Green, and someday when I have a home with old, drafty windows, these will be the first thing I buy.

  7. Mudrick says:

    We used a composite brand called Windsor Windows in a historic house we previously owned and loved them. Ours were white but indistinguishable from wood. They did not have a vinyl or plastic feel at all and were paintable. Our local contractor convinced us to use them over Pella or Anderson. Windsor was the only non-wood brand that met the approval of our local historic preservation board. They were termite and rot proof which was a big plus here in Florida. We spent about $17k on about 20 windows which were impact resistance, double paned and gas filled. Our energy bills dropped considerably after we installed them and we also noticed a marked decrease in outside noise. I would invest in them again.

  8. I can’t wait to see what you end up with. I have no insights, because we went with vinyl new construction windows. They are Jeldwin, which we’ve been really happy with. But, I know that vinyl is not what you are looking for. So, I’m no help. But, I’ll be living vicariously through you, I adore wood windows.

    (And, PS – we learned the boiler doesn’t work. At all. Must be replaced. Bummer.)

  9. Laura says:

    Our house is full of Pella windows, and we have been very happy with them. I especially love the ones that tilt in to make washing them easier.

    Whatever windows you do choose, find the best contractor possible. A lot of window issues start with poor installation.

  10. Sarah says:

    We bought windows last month and are having them installed this month. Like you, we needed 18 windows (but most of ours were closer to the 53″ square you mentioned). We really, really needed new windows as our current windows are about 45 years old, were single paned and were cracked and chipped. Two windows have gapping holes (one from a rock and one where my husband swatted a fly)! Unfornately, we didn’t have the budget to get wooden windows (the original windows are wooden) so we’ll be getting vinyl (the house is only 45 years old, so not historic).

    We went with Alside windows and the price came in around $9,300.00. We made sure they qualified for the credit too! Quotes ranged from $23,000.00 to $9300.00 just for vinyl! Some of those window sales guys were SUPER pushy leaving us with a less than confortable feeling that we were getting a good value for our $.
    We selected our installer because he got the very best references (from people we know well)-not just because he was the cheapest. After much research, I found that a good installer makes a huge difference!

    Best of luck

  11. runtymom says:

    Don’t go with Pella, their quality has slipped over the years. Even the pro-line. We just had two rather large double hung windows custom made from Pella for our kitchen remodel and they suck. Wouldn’t buy or use them again. Andersen is always a good choice. Why we didn’t go with them, not sure. Hubby had that one.

    In our last home (we’ve owned/restored four) we replaced all the windows using a company called Great Lakes Window and they were exceptional. Hubby researched before we bought those. Did an entire house in early 90’s for roughly $7500 and had over 20 double hung windows. We didn’t go with wood or fancy coloring, etc just standard replacements. Living in NW Penna and near Lake Erie we were much more concerned with heat retention and keeping cool air inside in summer. Their website shows they have alot of different styles, colors, etc to choose from now. We are going to replace some of the “replacement” windows on our current Old House and will use Great Lakes window again.

  12. Just say NO to Pella. I have them (already here when we bought the place) and really dislike them. I cringe everytime I go to a client’s and they have them because they are very uncondusive to any kind of inside mount window treatment. Marvin or Jeldwen is the way to go.

  13. I’m going with Jeldwen in our current kitchen, but I’ll be honest, it’s because I have to match existing.

    In South Florida, most of our properties have PGTs and windows made of hurricane impact glass. I never truly appreciated them until we moved into our home with original wavy glass windows from the 1920s. While they’re gorgeous, the are SO not functional.

    Totally can’t wait to see your new ones. They’re going to be fantastic!


  14. I have super crappy windows too so I’ll probably replace them this year as well. I guess the nice thing about having hardly any windows (4 plus a sliding glass door- none in the bathrooms, dining room, or kitchen) is that it won’t cost too much to replace.

  15. Andrew says:

    I have a bit of experience with this of late…

    Anderson is what we just had all of my mother’s windows replaced with. They are wood interior/clad exterior and gorgeous. Came in cheaper than Pella for very similar product.

    I have Pella replacement windows in my house. I love them but they are 10 years old, so am not sure about recent quality.

    If you (or anyone else) is ever looking for the best non-replacement windows out there, then go with Loewen windows, based in Canada. I used them in my last historic house and they are incredible. They, of course, require tearing out everything but are great for more extensive remodels, like in a kitchen. You can even get screens made of copper wire!

  16. Well…yikes. Windows. I used to work for a replacement window company, and gathered from many an irate caller that Anderson replacement windows are often a bad choice. Seems like the seals didn’t last long and most people weren’t happy with them. I know my parents had that issue in one of their houses. From everything I’ve heard, Marvin is one of the best of the mainstream window companies.

    We’re not sure what we’re going to do about our windows….we have ALL original windows (except 2) and I just don’t think the budget’s there to replace them anytime soon. Looking forward to hearing what you decide to do!

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