How do I choose the right product and installer?

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How do I choose the right product and installer?

2022-05-18T14:47:06-04:00Categories: Maintenance|

If your windows cannot be repaired, or the cost of repairs doesn’t make sense, then
replacement should be considered. Several factors should be looked at when evaluating an
investment into window replacement, and here are a few tips:

  1.  How long will you be in your home – If you are moving next week, a replacement
    probably won’t be worth the investment. If you are staying a few years, you’ll
    want to make sure there’s still value in your windows when you move (if your
    windows and doors are 10 years old and in need of replacement, and you plan
    on staying another 10 years, you probably shouldn’t spend money putting the
    the same quality of window back in)
  2. Do not rely on a salesman’s promises – If you have already begun the
    shopping process, you won’t be surprised to learn that every salesman will tell
    you that they work for the best company ever, and they have the single
    greatest window that ever existed in the history of mankind! Always ask
    who manufacturers it, and what product line you’re being offered. Would you buy
    a car from a dealer who wouldn’t tell you the make and model? This will allow
    you to do your own research into the brand and product line.
  3. Determine the correct product for your needs – Just like buying a new vehicle,
    you should determine a shortlist of what you’re interested in before comparing
    cost. With almost 2,000 window manufacturers in the United States, and each of
    them offering multiple product lines, this can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t
    have to be.
  4. Reputation matters – A quick internet search will help you find a few brands, and
    the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can be a decent starting point to look into
    them. See how long the company has been in business, check their score, and
    how many complaints they tend to receive. The BBB will show you how many
    complaints a manufacturer accumulated in the past 3 years, and the past 12
    months. National manufacturers may tend to have higher complaints than
    regional manufacturers, but it’s still a great reference.
  5. Longevity matters – If a manufacturer has only been in business for 5 years,
    they can’t really tell you how their window will hold up in 10 years, can they?
    Also, check how long they’ve been making windows! I have seen vinyl window
    manufacturers brag about being around since 1930… but, seeing that vinyl
    windows didn’t hit the market until 1964, this doesn’t exactly tell you anything
    about their reputation with windows! (And, honestly, a misleading claim like that is
    almost a sign that you need to be careful with them).

OK! So, how do you pick the right window? If you are NOT looking for vinyl, the answer can be
pretty simple: compare options from Andersen and Marvin. They have been the industry
leaders for more than 100 years, and both brands have multiple high-quality, non-vinyl options to
fit almost any budget.

If you are looking for a vinyl product, the search becomes FAR more confusing. So, let’s keep it

Glass: The modern glass pack consists of 2 or 3 pieces of glass, a single or multiple spacers,
and some type of insulating gas trapped inside. There are two reasons to focus on the quality
of the glass pack: 1) it accounts for about 90% of what you’re buying, and 2) cheap glass packs
are an easy to identify sign that you’re being offered a cheap window. Here are some ways to
identify cheap glass packs:

  • Multiple spacers, with visible seams in the corners. If you can see where the spacers
    come together, at a right angle, with a visible seam, then you’re looking at cheap glass!
    A quality spacer will be a single loop, with curved corners, and no seams in the corners.
  • “Organic ” Super Spacers. These tend to be made from rubber, or rubber-like
    compounds, and do not hold up in extreme heat. On a 95-degree day in August, I have
    personally seen glass exceed 150 degrees. Rubber will do a lot of expanding and
    contracting between 150 degrees and 15 degrees on a February night. Some
    manufacturers lean into this and brag about the spacer’s ability to expand and contract
    with the weather. If the thing that’s supposed to hold in the insulating gas in your window is
    moving back and forth against the glass, how well do you think it can keep that seal?
  • Low E films on the glass. These can be harder to spot, but your Low E coating should
    be part of the glass when it’s made, not a cheap “car tint” applied to clear glass. Your
    representative should be able to tell you the specifics on the glass (not just some fancy
    marketing name like “ULTRA MAXIMUS SUN DEFENDER GLASS”. Glass
    manufacturers like Cardinal will have boring names like Low E 270, or Low E 272, or
    Low E 366 that will help you identify the actual quality of the glass.

Quality Vinyl: Not all vinyl is the same. Some vinyl uses recycled materials, and just will not
age as well as virgin vinyl.

  • Step one is to identify the manufacturer and confirm that the manufacturer uses virgin
    vinyl. Ask for the manufacturer’s information and website to confirm this (NOT the
    window company’s website, the actual manufacturer).
  • Manufacturer’s branding and serial number. A manufacturer is required to have their
    information and serial number for the product available on the product, but if it’s on a
    sticker, chances are all that information will (intentionally) fade before you get a chance
    to look for it. If a manufacturer sets out with the intent of making a quality product, they
    will proudly put their name or logo on it, and if it’s meant to last the serial number will be
    etched into the glass, or spacer, where it will be easily accessed if needed.
  • Construction and thickness of the vinyl in the frame. Chambered vinyl actually acts as a
    great insulator, and the multi-chamber design simply reinforces the strength in all
    directions. A high-quality vinyl window frame will hold up based on this design.
    (Chances are, if the salesman you met with is bragging about reinforcement and foam fill
    in the frame, then the quality of the vinyl is low. Almost all manufacturers can offer foam
    fills and reinforcements, and typically at a very low additional cost, but showing it in a
    sample is typically just a sales tactic… admittedly, it does look cool in there…, and it’s
    also something you have no way of proving that you received… unless you want to cut
    your new windows apart. Feel free to do an internet search on “window wizards
    lawsuit”, and you’ll be sure to have some reading material.)

Choosing the right installer or company: This can be pretty simple as well.

  • Make sure they use a product that meets your standards.
  • Make sure they are certified to install that product.
  • Check out their Better Business Bureau score, and their overall online reputation.
  • Choose someone who gives you whatever information and whatever time that you need
    to feel comfortable. NEVER trust a “same day” sales tactic. You should meet with
    someone who knows more about windows and doors than they know about sales
    strategies, and there should be no need (other than the natural inflation of product costs)
    to push you to make a decision.