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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Need help choosing new windows

    I live in northeast ohio, in a home that was built in the early 50's. Currently my home has aluminum windows with marble sills... VERY COLD in the winter, and there are a lot of big windows throughout the home.
    I have had a few different companies come out for estimates and I have noticed this is not an easy decision. I will be staying here for many years so I want energy effecient long lasting windows. The house is a brick ranch and every window company says their vinyl replacements are "the best".
    Question #1- Buck framing, does this need to be done and should they use a composite wood?
    #2- Thickness of the glass, 1/8in better than 1/16?
    #3- Seal between the double panes, I was told most have a metal type, but came across a company that uses a butyl type seal with no metal and supposedly they can fill the argon with very little loss, Told about 97% fill. This sounds like a very good option but would really like to hear what you guys have to say.
    Oh..... #4- Should I replace the marble sills with wood?
    Any info will be greatly appreciated, Thanks Ryan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: Need help choosing new windows

    Anderson 400 series is my advice if you want a great long lasting window that's energy efficient

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Need help choosing new windows

    Going to energy efficient windows is the best 'bang for your buck' to save energy costs. As you've discovered, that field is wide open and full of people claiming darn near everything. All I can offer is generalities, but they will help you decide what to do and who to get to do it.

    Buy the best product you can afford. Look at the hardware- if it has small plastic parts which might break, then they will get broken. Check for smoothness of operation, including tilt-in and removal features. Check for movement with the sashes locked- there should be none. It should feel like quality throughout. Ask for references to customers from several years ago- the further back the better- and check with them in person to see how their windows have held up. Check the warranties carefully, especially concerning the glazing. Don't do business with installers or purchase products which don't have at least ten years solid reputation behind them.

    The most important part of this is the installation, and a great window badly installed is no better than a cheap one. Any wood that needs replacement should be dealt with. While most installers don't paint, you can. Be sure all the weather exposed wood is painted before it gets covered if it needs it. Installers should caulk as per the window manufacturer's instructions, and insulation added at any gaps (sometimes mentioned with the former). Follow those instructions for shimming too- this step is often overlooked! If there are any 'weep holes' be sure they are not caulked closed. If any wood is added to close in an opening it should be painted on all 6 sides (custom-made windows or standard openings won't need this). Watch the installers and make sure they are following the manufacturer's instructions- don't settle for anything less or your warranty will be void. Get everything in writing and be sure whoever wrote it is authorized to back up what they say.

    If the installers seem to be high-pressure, run away. There is no free lunch and there are no 'limited time specials'. The manufacturer and installer are having to pay the same prices at all times so they do not have any 'savings they can pass on to you'. These are all marketing gimmicks designed to separate you from your money. A good contractor will quote you a solid price that will be good for several months and will not try to rush you into anything. They may cost a little more but are usually worth it in the end. As always, get several bids for like products.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago

    Default Re: Need help choosing new windows

    "Bang for the buck" is a relative term when it comes to new windows due to their high cost of several hundred dollars per window installed. If I were to replace all the windows in my home at a cost of $10,000, that would be the entire cost of my present yearly gas bill for 10 years! You will save heating costs, but the pay back period will be very, very long.

    Windows are nice and they have other benefits: they do make your house more comfortable, they are less maintenance, they give more "curb appeal" which translates to higher sales value when you sell.

    In terms of payback, in a 1950's house that has not had its insulation upgraded, the payback would be far faster than new windows. Also, the average older house leaks air like a sieve. Sealing up air leaks is relaltively cheap with far greater results in relation to material costs. Going up in the attic with a couple cans of spray foam, pulling back the insulation and closing all voids in the ceiling plane would help energy costs greatly. Every electrical line going down the wall, every ceiling electrical outlet, cannister light, plumbing stack, etc. is heat pouring into the attic.

    I certainly don't discourage your wanting to upgrade your sindows. !950's aluminum windows were miserable creations. Aluminum is inherently inferior as a window material. It conducts heat/cold 1400 times more than wood!

    One of the best improvements I made in my last house was getting rid of the 1970 aluminum patio door and replacing it with a Pella metal clad, wood interior slider with Low-E glass. The old door had insulated glass, but the radiant cold off it made it very uncomfortable to sit at the dining room table. Low-E glass really makes sitting close to glass more comfortable. Even the coldest below zero day did not radiate cold to the interior.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Need help choosing new windows

    We covered this topic in the past, and here it is again.

    Since windows have to conform to the same requirements and codes, spending a lot for windows doesn't make a lot of sense. All windows are now double pane, most are gas filled.

    What's more important than the windows is the installation: It's better to have inexpensive windows installed right than expensive windows installed wrong.

    Choose your windows with care, choose your installer with more care. And just how to you choose an installer? by doing your homework, by asking for references, then checking them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Houston Texas

    Default Re: Need help choosing new windows

    Part to consider is ease of cleanability and getting the screens in and out.

    I need new windows too, but it would take 20 years to break even.

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