Mid-range versus High-end vinyl windows

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Mid-range versus High-end vinyl windows

#1 Post by VA-DC-shopper » Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:21 pm

I've been shopping for vinyl replacement windows in the Northern VA / D.C. area for several months, and have read most of the excellent posts on this board. Have a handful of quotes on various windows (Vytex Heritage / Georgetown, Quantum2, HomeDepot), but would really appreciate some answers to questions below as the sales brochures and pitches haven't provided enough clarity.
1. The higher end windows have either a heat mirror or 3rd pane with krypton/argon, while the mid-range windows are "plain" low-e/argon. I have read and analyzed all the specs (U-, R-, SHGC, etc.), but would like to know what do these specs mean in terms of heating/cooling dollars. One company "guarantees" 40% savings in heating/cooling with the high-end window. Another says mid-range can save 30% (no guarantee). One manufacturer implies that the high-end might qualify for energy savings tax credits. Bottom line: all other things being equal (e.g., the rest of my house is not a leaky sieve), after replacing my 20+ double hung, old, drafty, wood sash/vinyl-jambliner windows, should I expect about a 10% difference in dollar savings on heating/cooling between mid-range and high-end vinyl replacements?

2. The difference between high-end and mid-range windows is about $4000. Assuming the installers are comparable (yes, a risky assumption, but more later) and purely considering aesthetics here:
(a) Are the built-in grids pretty much the same for all manufacturers? The mftr websites sure don't seem to use this as a distinguishing factor, and the photos on the websites don't show the grid details. I have external grids made from beveled molding wood. Going with built-in grids for ease of cleaning. Wondered if there is any difference between mftrs.
(b) Does "virgin vinyl" really mean that the window will not fade, or are high-end and mid-range vinyl windows all likely to fade at the same rate?
(c) Does adding an exterior color to the vinyl window (cream or brown) affect fading? And, how much should this color option cost per window? I've had quotes ranging from $60 to $200 per window.

3. Regarding installation: I'm aware about the importance of good installation. All the quotes have stated that they do their own installation and don't subcontract. I've learned not to "judge" the quality of a contractor by his/her appearance -- have had a grungy, unshaven contractor end up doing the best drywall job I ever saw, while a clean-cut well-spoken contractor did barely average work. So,
(a) Are there certain things I should stipulate in the contract regarding the work (other than completion by certain date, clean-up, removal, payment upon completion) to help ensure a quality job?
(b) If I observe the installation, what should I watch for?
(c) After installation, are there visible things I should look for besides obvious checks (e.g., windows operate smoothly, no crooked windows, etc.)?

I would appreciate your experienced insights.


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#2 Post by Heuchera » Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:23 pm

While you're looking, take a peek at the Marvin Infinity fiberglass window. We had them installed recently are are very pleased with them. They're what I consider a middle-of-the-road window. Look better than vinyl, but without the maintenance of the higher end windows with wood interiors.

As far as energy savings, there comes a point where all this information gets overwhelming & confusing. I often wonder where the companies get their figures anyway. If the windows you get are less drafty than the ones you had, that's a plus. But to guarantee a 40% savings in energy costs??? And if you don't save 40%, then what? Will the manufacturer pay your heating bill?

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#3 Post by E-Z » Sun Oct 02, 2005 1:33 pm

I would not dream od guaranteeing 40% savings as there are too many variables.You see windows are a big part of your energy loss but not all of it how about if the customers walls are not insulated,the attic,the floors :wink:
So if i was you i would ask them to put it in writing and also to give you a solution if in fact you do not get 40% savings.maybe paying the difference of your energy bill. Is far fetch but so is their 40% claim :lol:

E-z Windows

Mass. window guy
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Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 1:30 pm
Location: Massachusetts

#4 Post by Mass. window guy » Mon Oct 03, 2005 7:55 am

alot of the "high end" window reps will offer 30-40 % fuel savings pledges. Read the fine print and you will see 100% of the time it is for the 1st year only, and there is a cap of $500.00. It is up to the homeowner to provide all the necessary data to confirm the claim (i.e oil or gas invoices for the past few years. Most people couldn't be bothered.
If someone is buying 20 windows from me at $1000.00 a window I would have enough profit in the job to pay out these claims as well. It is just a trick in the tool bag to help close a sale.
There is also an "apples to apples" price guarantee. If within 30 days after purchasing your windows, you find another company that offers the same window with all the same features for a lower price, they will refund 110% of the difference. This will never happen because the window sold by those companies are "slight variations" of the competitors windows so it is impossible to compare products "apples to apples". Besides, who in their right mind would continue to get prices after already signing the contract and giving a deposit?

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#5 Post by VA-DC-shopper » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:13 pm

Thanks for your responses to date, which have answered question #1 in my original post. I also found a good discussion about how the window ratings affect energy savings (dollars) in another post -- the one titled "Comfort World" started by George.

I'm hoping some of the experts on this forum will address question 2 in my original post, especially regarding vinyl window color. For several reasons, I'm looking for a dark brown exterior color, and some manufacturers don't offer that option based on their web site (Schuco for one, bummer). What exactly does "fading" mean -- will a dark brown become dull or light brown, or will a white become grey or clear? How long before fading occurs?

Finally, an additional question: Does anyone have insight (other than manufacturers web site and nfrc) regarding Vytex, Traco and Gorell windows in terms of quality of construction?

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#6 Post by WGorell » Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:25 am

Va-DC shopper,
I will try to answer some of your questions.

Grids do vary by manufacturer. The majority of grids are rectangular boxes which look fine from a distance but have no intrinsic beauty. Several manufactures do a sculptured gid, simulating milled wood, as we do. Then there are the connectors which have many variations. Look closely at the intersections of the grids where horizontals and verticals meet. Many have gaps and you see daylight, or sparkles from the cut edge of the metal, a small thing but can be very objectionable.

As far as color, most vinyl, if not all today, holds it's color very well. In past years some extruders cut corners by not adding the proper stablilizers and there were windows that faded dramatically of distorted from heat, but that is very rare today to the point I've not heard a complaint in many years. As far as how much fade will happen, I think the easiest comparison is a high quality paint. The color holds very well, but everything fades some from UV rays and atmospheric conditions. We have been making windows for over 12 years and I've been in the business for almost 40 years, and I don't recall any complaints for fading. Dark brown would have the most "fade" but it should be uniform and remain attractive dark brown.

Installation should be done in accordance with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association installation standards. You should watch for plumb, level and square installation. Attactive trimming and finishing around the windows and ease of operation once installed.

Your last question was quality of construction. I can say ours are as good as technology currently allows. All machinery is computer controlled, all welders do all four corners at the same time to guarantee spuareness and flatness, and the staff has been making windows for over 40 years. Traco makes a good product but I am unfamiliar with Vytex.

As far as energy savings, we offer 6 different glazing options to allow you to match your needs and totally customize your windows to fit them.
Visit our website for more information, we try to make it very informative to allow you to make a better decision. (edited by RW-Admin, please do not post home site URL's - thank you)
Wayne Gorell

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