Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

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central_tx
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Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:05 am
Location: Central Texas

Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#1 Post by central_tx » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:28 am

We are in central Texas and in the market for new windows. We are getting 13 single hung (probably vinyl) windows and a sliding glass door. We got a few quotes from a few places, and was curious if anyone had any insight into whether these were good, or if better options existed. We are interested in better energy costs, but particularly interested in reducing noise and durability. Here are some of the quotes:

Zen Nirvana 10000
Vistamark Endura 9000
Simonton Pro Vinyl 13000
NT Executive 11000

A couple of questions have come up after reading a handful of other postings. One is whether the NT Executive is OK, or if it's worth trying to get one of their other, better windows. I was having trouble locating stats showing that the other NT products are definitively better.
Also, people were saying that one window is mid-tier vs premium. What are the differences between the two? Does one last longer? Is the finishing better? Does one use higher quality glass? How much difference will I see in noise and heat abatement?
Lastly, I have seen some comments on high quality vs medium quality vinyl. How can I differentiate between the two? I noticed the Vistamark seemed to flex a little more than some of the others. I've tugged, tapped, and done a variety of other things to the material and have gotten it to make different noises, but I'm not sure if that really matters. Some sounded hard and solid, like aluminum, while others reminded me of cheap plastic lawn furniture. What numbers can I look at on a website, and what tests should I do in person to tell if a window is going to last 5 years or 15?

Thanks!

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#2 Post by Windows on Washington » Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:04 am

Happy Sunday.

Paging Randy...paging Ultra Windows

https://ultrawindows.net/

masterext
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#3 Post by masterext » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:08 pm

Agree 100%, gotta contact Randy at Ultra Windows. He is an awesome guy and one heck of a window pro.

Bobert
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#4 Post by Bobert » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:11 pm

When we were shopping a few months ago, Randy was only doing Houston, but perhaps he has moved into Central Texas. I wish he was here when we were deciding.

Look at Ringer Windows. They have their factory/showroom in Taylor. We ended up going with them for most of our windows but we did our own installation, but they also install with their own crews too. They were very competitive on price with their installs and quality combination.

Ringer has 3 lines of single hungs and you can see them all in their showroom. The use Cardinal Glass with double-strength, LoE-366 standard. There is no better glass for central Texas. We ended up getting a mix of sliders, casement and single-hungs in their Elite series. We liked the even-site lines and the frame width was only 2.25 inches in the sliders and single-hungs which means a lot more glass than the others. The only thing they don't offer is foam filled frames or non metal spacers but I decided the reliability of Cardinal's XL Edge outweighed the slight u-factor difference for our climate. Since they only sell in this region, Ringer really picked the right things to make standard, such as sash reinforcements, LoE-366 and thinner frame profiles. Best thing about Ringer to me was we got to customize each window - one we picked LoE-340 for the most sunblocking, we picked a custom grid, and added i89 to two windows near the fireplace to reflect that heat back in.

For noise, they offer laminated glass options, but their regular package made a night/day difference over our old aluminum windows.

One problem you will find in central Texas is most installers don't use spray foam, so if you find one who does it is a bonus.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#5 Post by Windows on Washington » Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:56 am

I think Houston is keeping Randy busy enough as is. I was more so saying to page Randy from the standpoint of feedback.

He will be here soon enough I am sure.

Randy
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#6 Post by Randy » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:16 am

Sorry to be late to the party. I’m trying to make sure weekends are spent away from work and work related things to focus on family. Something I wish I would have started many years ago!

I don’t know anything about Ringer windows, but Bobert is a good resource on them for sure.

I never recommend Zen windows. Companies who find a top tier manufacturer, then choose one of their lesser models to capitalize on the reputation of the company that was built on their premium models are pulling a fast one on consumers, IMO. Additionally, I prefer companies with more control over the installation process.

NT makes decent vinyl windows. I prefer the Energy Master or Presidential (primarily because I have more experience with them).

Premium vinyl windows have more Titanium Dioxide in the PVC compound (window will be a brighter white rather than blue/gray), thicker vinyl walls, tighter manufacturing tolerances, mortised sill dam, etc...

Nothing wrong with buying a mid-grade vinyl window, as long as you are clear on what you’re getting. Personally, I would recommend looking at Don Young thermally-broken aluminum windows. They’ll hold up better long-term than any vinyl window, and that includes premium vinyl.

central_tx
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Location: Central Texas

Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#7 Post by central_tx » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:47 pm

Thanks everyone for the great information!

We were talking with an installer and he said that for NT Windows, in the Dallas area they call them the Energy Master and the Traditions for the windows in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and Executive and Presidential in Central Texas. Does that seem right?

We got a quote from Ringer that was about $10,000 for their Resolute line. They had a lot of good reviews, but it seems like they mostly just sell to Central Texas, and not anywhere else. We weren't necessarily looking for a national brand, but were leaning toward at least a regional brand. We thought the warranty would be more useful if it was a bigger company. Our real estate agent also commented that they were popular with house flippers, and we didn't necessarily take that to be a compliment. That being said, we don't have any information that says they are not great windows, we just were a little more wary.

Bobert
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#8 Post by Bobert » Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:54 pm

Ringer installs only in central Texas but they sell to DIY types like me and builders all over Texas. They got 3-lines - the Performa is their low end line which they stock in common sizes for cash/carry. While it is their low-end it has double-strength glass, metal reinforced meeting rails and other such features that Simonton lacks by default. It is not builder-grade. Simonton doesn't offer reinforcements by default so if you go with them be sure your installer specs them out for it. They also don't default to LoE-366 or double-strength glass.

Flippers probably choose the Ringer Performa because they have no or minimal order time - most common sizes are stocked. The Ringer Resolute on the other hand is only available custom-ordered and is a big step up from the Performa adding better screens and a deeper, stronger 3.25 inch frame. We liked the added features and even sight-lines of the Elite which is their top of line. The upgrade from Resolute to Elite was about $15-$20 per opening for us. The Elite adds a tilt to clean feature and I like how the screens are removed from the inside, plus the IGU was a little thicker.

As for service, I had a minor issue with two of my Ringer windows where an extrusion got dented during manufacturing (a small indentation every 2 feet on the operable panel) and they remade the sashes the next business day. The problem was barely noticeable in normal light and while it occurred at their vinyl supplier, they took care of it promptly and efficiently.

For comparison,I bought another window from Milgard (made in Grand Prairie TX) which got its glass broken during shipping to Home Depot and it took 4 more weeks to get it fixed (after they lost it), and then another 6 weeks to get the screen replaced (they had lost the original, sent a damaged one and then another with many delays and phone calls).

I visited the NT factory in Ft Worth and wasn't impressed with the broken sample windows and messy condition of their factory/grounds. If a sample window is broken in the factory showroom, how reliable is it going to be and how fast will they service me? NT Windows also have a bulky frame that was too thick for my liking. Simonton also seemed to thick - which means you lose a lot of glass area.

Vistamark is another very small company - they are very young - founded in 2014. Ringer has been around since 2007 and survived the 2008-2009 downturn while they were young. Ringer also seems busy enough to not nag you or try to twist your arm into signing immediately like other vendors tried to do to me.

$10,000 is a good price but the decision should be on the install - how are they measuring, do they cut back sheet rock or down-size the window to fit from the outside, do they use spray foam, etc. Do they reinstall alarms? how thick is the frame and how much glass will you lose.

Ringer has great reviews like you said. I was very happy with their order process and speed of delivery. If you had Ringer come out for an in home visit, I highly recommend you go the showroom and ask for a factory tour.

If you got a few windows that are really bad, and are handy, it is something you might be able to tackle as DIY. We ordered 2 at first and then got addicted and a few batches later we had done the whole house. Ringer was great guiding me through it. Doing it myself cut my project cost in half. We only went with Milgard for one odd-sized single-hung that Ringer could only do as a picture window.

With windows there is no right choice for everyone, just be sure you like the product, the service and the install methods. You will be stuck with them for many, many years, so pick right.

Randy
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Re: Deciding on brands Zen/NT/Vistamark/Simonton

#9 Post by Randy » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:38 am

No, they are three different lines of windows. The Traditions is an exclusive model offered to larger volume dealers. It is basically the Presidential with a few tweaks.

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