Which window to buy in Western Mass.

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Chose
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Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#1 Post by Chose » Sun May 17, 2020 2:08 pm

Thank you for this forum. It is a wealth of valuable info for those of us buying windows for the first time.
We live in Western Massachusetts, and are buying a 45 year old Colonial style house with the original Andersen windows. We are having the worn out cedar clapboard siding either stripped off or covered up by Vinyl Siding, (method will be determined by which contractor we choose). We are getting four estimates, and all four have different recommendations. The one constant is that all have suggested that now is the best time to replace all 24 double hung windows, plus the one crank out window in the kitchen. Besides the fact that the windows are 45 years old and do not tilt in for easy cleaning, you have to hang outside the window to affix the screens, The other big reason is that the exterior of the windows casing are a clay/dull green color.
The new vinyl siding colors will be desert tan vinyl siding, off white PVC Aluminum trim, no shutters. The outer window trim will be portrait style, in 3" white. Doors will be white.
If we do not change windows we'll have a clay/dull green inner rectangular "ring" (casing) inside the new white 3" Trim.
We've decided to buy the tilt in vinyl double hung, new construction windows, probably white on inside and outside, with grills between the panes of glass, although the inside of the house wood trim is Cinnamon Stained wood. We chose vinyl white inside and outside because we assume all vinyl white/white will be the least expensive way to go.
Will the contractor be able to replace the original windows from the outside without disturbing the inside trim if the siding is removed?
By doing this, will the new window be airtight? How can it be?
If possible, could you help us decide which to have installed of these several choices?
We are comparing Pella 350 (highest rated by Consumer Reports, score of 91),
Alside Mezzo (Consumer Reports score of 54, but highly regarded by users online),
Simonton 5500 (Consumer Reports score of 73),
Andersen A Series, Andersen 400,
Ellison 1300, or
Jeld-Wen V-4500 (C.S. score 69).
Thus far we have two estimates. First is (to replace all 24 double hung windows, plus the one crank out in the kitchen) to install Alside Mezzo Windows, $12,675.
The second is to install Ellison 1300 windows, $10,500.
Any thoughts on which would be the best of the seven choices to buy? Are there other mid level options that we should explore?
We have not lived in this house yet (closing is very soon and we'd like to decide now), but assume that the 45 year old Andersen windows should be replaced now.

masterext
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#2 Post by masterext » Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

To be quite honest, none of those choices would be endorsed by anyone here. If you can find a window company that offers a higher quality window such as soft lite, okna, sunrise, or kensington i would take a look at those. They may carry a higher price tag initially but over the course of a few years they will turn out to be much better investments.
The windows you mentioned are usually used by jack of all trades type contractors that purchase windows from building supply stores. I dont know anyone that highly recommends anything from alside. Stay away from consumer reports, they give very biased recommendations.

Chose
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#3 Post by Chose » Sun May 17, 2020 3:19 pm

We live 50 miles west of Springfield, Mass, near the New York border.
Does anyone know of any Soft-Lite, Okna, or Sunrise window dealers nearby?
As for Kensington, I've read scores of post and don't recall much feedback on Kensington windows.
Thank you

masterext
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#4 Post by masterext » Sun May 17, 2020 3:29 pm

Kensington is much better than anything alside produces. As far as those brands, contact the manufacturers and ask for a dealer in your area.

Chose
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#5 Post by Chose » Sun May 17, 2020 5:44 pm

Can you or anyone else help me understand what exactly is better about Soft-Lite and Okna vinyl double hung windows, than Pella 350 or Alside Mezzo vinyl double hung windows when all have excellent Air Infiltration Ratings?
I need to be able to explain the differences to my wife to justify the extra cost.
Thank you.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#6 Post by Windows on Washington » Sun May 17, 2020 6:58 pm

Mil thickness, design pressure, thermal data, sill design.

To name a few. The Pella 350 isn't a bad window by any stretch, I just don't like the sill. And while the Mezzo is a massive step up over the previous generations, the fact that it couldn't previously accommodate triple pane glass should give you pause about its overall strength.

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Randy
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#7 Post by Randy » Sun May 17, 2020 8:06 pm

Alside achieves the lower AL rating on the Mezzo by adding fuzzy pads at the corners of the sashes. These taped on, temporary pads will not stay put, nor will they stay on the sashes for long. Once they come off, the AL rating goes up. Premium manufacturers achieve their ratings legitimately.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#8 Post by TheWindowNerd » Mon May 18, 2020 5:12 am

Have you considered pock insert as one option and full tear/full frame as the other option. Either will work for you.
My preference, if you have the money is full frame.
If you want the most air tight window with the longest life cycle you would be looking at vinyl. I am sure we could find a way to get the Okna 600DX to you. I actually like the 800DX the best, but it does not have an integral fin, if you consider pocket inserts then consider the 800.
If you are a wood snob then Marvin Elevate, Pella Lifestyle, or AW 400 WoodWright- E series - or A series.

wayne theWindowNerd.com

Chose
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#9 Post by Chose » Mon May 18, 2020 6:38 am

RE: Okna 600DX
what is the mil thickness number?
What is the Design Pressure rating?
What is the thermal data ?
What is the sill design?

Chose
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#10 Post by Chose » Mon May 18, 2020 6:47 am

Thank you all for the info.
Windows on Washington, you wrote about some key window data in your reply.
To help me know what to look for as I talk to window reps in my area:
What is a very good mil thickness number?
What is a very good Design Pressure rating?
What are the key numbers to seek for very good thermal data ranges?
What is a very good sill design to look for?

masterext
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#11 Post by masterext » Mon May 18, 2020 8:29 am

Mil thickness is thickness of vinyl wall. .075 or higher. Also the quality of the vinyl itself.
Dp is basically the structural rating.. the higher the better. 45 or higher.
Sill design.. you do NOT want a pocket sill in a double hung. You want a true welded sloped sill.
Therma data.. the overall Ufactor should be .28 or lower but that is meaningless if the window has a high air infiltration rating. You want a low air infiltration rating of .05 or lower WITHOUT fuzzy pads/ thermal pads that are glued in the corner of the sashes. A quality window will not utilize these lads that will come off.
Also, look at the keeper which is located at the bottom of the top sash and engages the lock. Make sure that doesnt easily bend or flex. If i remember correctly , the mezzo amd pella have very flexible lock keepers.

Chose
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#12 Post by Chose » Mon May 18, 2020 10:20 am

Thank you, Masterext, for that info.
In a previous text you recommended Kensington windows.
What is the data for Kensington windows: or any other very good quality new construction double hung windo that I could buy in Western Massachusetts:
Mil thickness
Dp
Sill design
Therma data
Keeper
or any other very good quality new construction double hung window that I could buy in Western Massachusetts?

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toddinmn
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#13 Post by toddinmn » Mon May 18, 2020 2:22 pm

I think there is some good advice here but trying to find mil thickness and the composition of the vinyl can be daunting task. A u-value of 0.28 is pretty easily achieved even in a poor quality window with a tin spacer. The air numbers reference is good but at what point do they make a U-value meaningless? Anyways. I think the recommendations are solid, maybe throw Vytex into the mix?

Oberon
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#14 Post by Oberon » Mon May 18, 2020 3:19 pm

Great advice above, but I am going to hijack the thread for a bit to discuss window design pressure (DP).

My apologies up front but I think that DP may not be quite as well understood as other window measurements such as VT, AI, R and U values, and SHGC....

DP is based entirely on structural performance of the entire window....To quote from AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-08, NAFS - (North American Fenestration Standard/ Specification for windows, doors, and skylights - the governing body concerning DP ratings): "...design pressure (DP) and structural test pressure are strictly structural qualifications, irrespective of the results of any air leakage resistance testing or water penetration resistance testing." (I would qualify that while air penetration is totally independent of DP, there is a relationship between water resistance and DP, but I am not going to go into it here).

DP is measured and presented in PSF, but it's really mph or kph that people are generally interested in....so how does DP translate into mph?

There was a suggestion earlier in the thread that you should look for a window with a DP of at least 45...suggesting that anything with a lower DP would be unacceptable. I am NOT criticising that recommendation, but i am suggesting that while a DP 45 (equivalent to 134mph wind), is a great starting point if you are building in a high velocity windzone, in 90% of the country DP 45 is probably going to be overkill. For clarification, a widow with a DP 45 rating is equivalent to 134mph but its actually tested for structural performance at 1.5 times that, or equivalent to 164mph. (1.5 x 45psf = 67.5psf or 164mph, even though 134mph x 1.5 = 201mph, again they aren't linear).

I would never say that a higher DP rating is a bad thing, because it absolutely isn't (the windows in my house are DP 100). And while a higher DP may very well be indicative of a high performance window, I would also suggest that a lower DP does not automatically mean a lower performance product.

In my opinion a window DP of 45 is probably not necessary in most places nor is a higher DP necessarily an indicator of better overall window performance,in part because it's actually relatively easy to build a high DP window.

Adding reinforcement to the sash and frame as needed, using bigger, beefier locks and hinges (assuming it's an operator), plus installing strengthened or thicker glass, and you have a high DP window. Doesn't mean it's a good window, but it will have a heck of a DP.

Going completely nerd, the comparison between DP and mph windspeed is not linear. The ratios of the design pressure in psf are the square of the ratios of the windspeed in mph,or for example, while 1psf is comparable to 20mph, 4psf is 40mph, and 16psf is 80mph. Looking at 16psf again, a paltry DP 16 is analogous to 80mph wind, and is tested at 24psf or 98mph.

If anyone is curious, 400psf = 400mph, and if you want to calculate mph from psf, or psf for a given windspeed:

mph = (psf/20) squared
psf = sqrt(mph)*20

I developed these simple formulae based on available empirical data many years ago when asked by a window company what was the equivalent windspeed of their DP...and I didn't know.

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toddinmn
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Re: Which window to buy in Western Mass.

#15 Post by toddinmn » Mon May 18, 2020 3:46 pm

Can you tell us at what air infiltration rate does a U-value become meaningless?

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