Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

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Black Mammoth
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Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#1 Post by Black Mammoth »

I was hoping to get advice on determining types of windows for my home. I've been doing a lot of research on windows, but I'm still getting some mixed information for my project. I posted a question in the spacers group to help me out a bit. I apologize now for the long post. I live on the east coast and the back side of my house faces west. The windows in our great room are pretty large and face west.

I like the look of wood better, but I'm not a fan of the maintenance and rot. I was initially looking for a vinyl clad, composite, etc for the exterior while getting a wood material for the inside, even though it will remain white; vinyl just looks a little cheap to me, especially with the welded joints (double hung). With that said I'm not opposed to vinyl. In fact I have had people to come out to quote vinyl. My understanding is that vinyl windows are generally a better window. However, with that said I've been getting mixed feedback on my project from companies that offer both. I also decided to talk to RBA and Pella even though I'm not a fan of the problems Pella has had. Those issues plus the price has crossed them off my list not unless you guys tell me to reconsider.

The big disadvantage with both RBA and Pella is that they say they can't keep my current window configuration as they don't make shapes and sizes like I have. RBA is more expensive, but I have a connection that got me a good deal. They are still more expensive than a great vinyl window, but not as much as you would think. With that said, they are still more and I could replace more windows with another brand. I want to replace all of the windows eventually as the home is 16 years old. It will take awhile because I have a TON of windows. So whomever gets my business will be happy lol.

The one issue I have with vinyl is loosing window space. However, with the window design in my great room, I'm not sure how much space I will actually lose because I have quite a bit of a border after the mullions. It appears that I have 2" - 2.5" of border before the glass. I'm not sure how much a vinyl insert would take. Does anyone have a comment on how much spacing it actually takes?

One of my big questions is the strength of using vinyl. Keep in mind I'm on the east coast with large west facing windows. I had two companies come out that both sell Marvin wood windows and a great vinyl. Both companies are HIGHLY recommended and rated for my area. The one company told me to go with vinyl not unless I had to have wood because it is a better window than Marvin. The other company told me to go with Marvin because they said they though vinyl would be a bad idea for my project and I should use a wood window. They said with the size of my windows, weather, and heat that they don't think it would hold up. They also mentioned that they recommended a metal spacer because they were afraid that the conditions would be too rough for the non-metal spacers and cause sagging. They mentioned Swiggle had this problem and are concerned about the longevity of the window. RBA and Pella said the same thing, but I expected them to say that :) Anyway, when I mentioned the Marvin vs vinyl to the sales rep that quoted me vinyl said the concern was unfounded as their window has a higher DP rating than Marvin, but he didn't mention anything about the spacer.

Since both are highly reputable companies that sell both Marvin and great vinyl windows, I'm not sure which direction to go in, vinyl or other. I've included pictures and dimensions below. Are there any brands that you would recommend based on my project? I'm waiting to hear back on the Marvin quote. Below are the quotes I got for the first phase of my project which includes more than what you see in the great room. Vinyl option will aluminum cap the brickmould, frame, and mullions except for one window that needs to be full replacement. The other brands are full replacement.

Vinyl: $59k
Pella: $65k
RBA: $71k
Marvin: TBD

Biggest delta is $12k between a great vinyl and RBA. If I want to color the vinyl windows, then I'm closer to the Pella quote.

ImageGreatRoom by Black Mammoth, on Flickr

To give you an idea of size, here are the dimension for the top windows.
Opening - 88.5" wide x 112" tall (roughly at the apex)
Two side windows are 19.5" wide x 55" tall
Spring windows is 25" wide x 75" tall (at apex)
The half moon (I forget what it is called) is 88.5" wide x 19.5" tall

Sorry for the long post. Any information is appreciated.

Oberon
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#2 Post by Oberon »

First a question: you mention that the house is 16 years old so you are planning to replace all of the windows in the house. Why? Are they failing in some way, or is your concern that they are 16 years old so that you believe that they are reaching the end of their life expectancy?

I am not recommending here, but you say that the Pella rep told you that they couldn't replicate those windows? Whoever told you that wasn't possible needs to go back to sales school because there is nothing in your picture that shows a window that is particularly difficult to reproduce for a full line manufacturer. I have seen much larger and more complicated from Pella (and Andersen, and Marvin, and Kolbe, and others) on many occasions, so I don't know why the Pella rep would say that they couldn't do it. Again not intended to be a recommendation, just an observation.

Per RBA, while I have been inside their factory on a few occasions, I don't recall ever seeing anything quite like that when I was there. I have no doubt that they could do it, but maybe they simply choose not too if it truly isn't an option. If they did build it I can only imagine the sticker shock... :shock:

Who was manufacturer of the "great vinyl" that the salesman recommended?? I have also seen vinyl windows in applications very similar to yours so I wouldn't have any problems with using a high-end vinyl window in your application, but I have no real experience in that area so I defer once again to the opinions of the vinyl window experts who post here.

Per glass, if you have a lot of glass facing west, and if there are no obstacles to block the mid afternoon to twilight sun, then I would suggest that your windows need to be built using a glass package with a low solar heat gain coating to help avoid baking inside your house from the setting sun.

In my opinion the best spacer on the market in terms of overall performance is Cardinal's stainless steel Endur, but as a consumer you are buying from a window company and not necessarily from an IG manufacturer. If you trust that you are buying a quality window from a quality window manufacturer then you should be able to trust their overall package and not second guess them on their choice of materials that go into building their window. And if any window company is suggesting a glass package with swiggle spacer, then run - don't walk, away from them.

Black Mammoth
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#3 Post by Black Mammoth »

Thanks for the reply! We will be replacing windows because they are failing. Not all of the windows are failing yet, so I have some time. Some of the ones in the picture are leaking a good amount of water on stronger storms. We have also noticed that they can be drafty. The other windows on our list have significant wood rot and have a lot of air leakage. The other windows seem to be OK for now although I can tell that the seals will be going soon. It will take us quite a bit of time to replace them all as we have 89 windows. Right now we are doing ones that are critical (leaking water, massive amount of air or significant wood rot beyond repair).

The RBA guy said they probably could make it, but we would probably looking at least $30k per opening. He came up with nice alternative solutions for a fraction of the price.

I'm looking at several Vinyl windows. This particular one is Okna 700 and 800 series.

The one rep wasn't suggesting Swiggle. He was saying that he thought a metal spacer would be best fit for my application as he was leery of non-metal spacers for this particular application. He mentioned Swiggle as an example of a failure. I'm not sure if that was fair or not.

I would like to leave it up to the experts on the choice of material. However, the two HIGHLY regarded experts in the area are saying opposite things and they both sell the same products. That is the biggest reason why I'm here :)

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#4 Post by TheWindowNerd »

Is the picture old, is some one building next door?
What town are you near?
I do like the Okna 800, great window.
Visible glass loss you mention as a large concern: Okna typical frame edge to glass 3.5". The smallest frames are going to be in Marvin fiberglass direct set or Pella direct set ( 1.5").
They can not do the curves in fiberglass, so that is out. But you could do Traditional Marvin, in my 35 years of dealing with the big three, Marvin is going to be the most expensive. Pella will be slightly cheaper, look for a PCC, buying directly from a pella distributor will be more expensive.
My big concern is who I would trust to do the install. What is the exterior finish around the windows?
You can not field cap those curves and have it look as it should. To get the best look you need to think about redoing the siding, using flex molding, or getting factory bend exterior cladding.
My initial take on this is clad wood will give you the result you seek. I would tend to look at three bids Okna 800, Pella clad frame and Proline or Architect DH, traditional direct set Marvin. Once you have the right product please make sure you have the best installer in your area, this is a tough tough install.

theWindowNerd

Black Mammoth
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#5 Post by Black Mammoth »

This is a new picture. I'm building a pool out back. If I would have known I needed new windows now, I probably wouldn't be building a pool :)

The exterior of the home has masonite which is no longer made. Redoing the siding is a non-starter for me, so we need to be careful on the exterior. The frame and mullions are wood. There is some wood rot on the mullions which probably could be fixed. I was also concerned about capping the arches for the same reason as you mentioned. This is probably another reason why RBA and Pella want to take it out. I was trying to stay away from aluminum cladding and go with another type of cladding. Although I hear extruded aluminum is better than the rolled.

I do have concerns about proper window installed. The two that are highly regarded I'm pretty confident in their abilities. It is the different opinions that have thrown me a bit. I didn't realize that going through a PCC vs Pella would be better priced.

Update: Pella is A LOT more than RBA. I took a closer look at the quote and it is missing a section which is probably around another $15 - $20k. I noticed this when looking to see which line of windows were specified.

Pella (from Pella, not a PCC): $80 - $85k
RBA: $71k
Okna: $59k

Hopefully I will get my Marvin quote soon. He did warn me that it will be expensive.

Thanks for your input!

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#6 Post by TheWindowNerd »

I thought it looked like a pool project.

What town?

Hate to give up the design that is there, stunning. Is the cheaper design to do single eybrow mulled to single picture window below?

Do you know what Pella series is being quoted? Are all bids for the same spec, sizes, install method( full frame or insert) and interior paintning? The interior trim can be done with wood casing or polyurethane flex trim. The exterior can be done extruded aluminum casing, polyurethane flex trim or capping( this will not look great).

We worked on a project on a country estate that reminds me of yours. We did 6 curved top single hung with SDL grids, 3 rd floor dog house dormers. Supplied and installed $36K.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#7 Post by TheWindowNerd »

You can probably do each upper opening as single half rounds with extended legs. These would be huge and heavy.
I would suggest one of the big three as they have the deep pockets for warranty on these, they also have service teams to handle as well. All three have reasonable warranties ranging from 20 year to lifetime.

I do not include RBA in the big three, but the parent company, AW I do, so maybe A or E series.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#8 Post by Windows on Washington »

+1 to the question before and feedback so far.

Where is the home located?

Black Mammoth
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#9 Post by Black Mammoth »

I'm sorry for the ignorant question, but what do you mean by extended legs?

The Pella are Lifestyle Series and Support windows. Their plan was a to basically to use a half circle for the top part of the window and then replicate the bottom half with a window. The difference being is that bottom half won't have the spring window in the middle because of the half circle up top. Do you think they have their aluminum cladding problem fixed?

RBA are Renewal series for everything except for the French doors which are the A series. RBA had two design options. Option 1: Same as Pella. Option 2: Half circle above with a picture below. Then use wide grids to replicate the design we have. The look would be similiarish, but would have a mullion through the spring window area. He also said we could change the grids to anything else to give us a different look.

Okna keeps the same design by using the mullions in place and just replaces the windows. Instead of having them cap aluminum, perhaps I can just have them fix the wood rot and repaint.

The scope of work between all of the companies are the same except for that Okna is just replacing the windows in the great room where the others are doing a full tear out. So RBA and Pella would be doing some extra work with the trim. The only other difference which was noted earlier is that Pella forgot to put the French doors in the quote.

Is it safe to assume that air infiltration is not a concern with fixed windows? At this point I really should be looking at SGHC and U-Factor. Probably more on SGHC since the heat in the summer can be an issue.

I'm located in Northern VA. Any particular installers should I be looking at? I'm assuming Windows on Washington would be in that list of recommendations. I'm also curious if your recommendations match the companies I've been looking at. I've contacted RBA, Pella, and two installation companies.

Again, I appreciate you reading my novels and providing feedback :)

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#10 Post by Windows on Washington »

Ugh...I really don't like those windows.

Guessing this is in River Creek if I had to venture a guess but I didn't think there was any new construction in there.

Black Mammoth
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#11 Post by Black Mammoth »

Not River Creek, but a good guess. This is in Beacon Hill. The construction you see is a pool that we are building.

Which windows do you not like? I wasn't sure if you were talking about the current design, the openings, Pella line, Andersen, or the Marvins.

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#12 Post by Windows on Washington »

Going to be a great vista when done. I figured you were close. I am just a stone's throw down the road in the village around the corner.

We will be doing one of your neighbor's homes here in the next few weeks. Material lead times have been horrendous of late and their shape windows tanked the order lead time. Happy to have you come by and watch the work in progress if you so request.

As far as the "windows I didn't like", I was mostly referring to those dastardly shaped units like that. I really don't care for them and they are much, much easier to make in wood than anything else.

As a bit of unsolicited advice, I would yank them out as a unit (i.e. all 4 units on top) and go back with larger single palladian units (i.e. 3 larger units). I would make the space feel much larger, and if you did similar full tear outs on the windows below, you could open that space up a bit more and provide for a much nicer view of the newly constructed pool.

Feel free to email me at: enovotny@windowsonwashington.net

And I would be happy to swing by and review some options with you. Have a Happy New Years if we don't chat before then.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#13 Post by HomeSealed »

blackmammoth, this will come as no surprise, but in Northern VA you really need to have Windows on Washington come out and take a look. The Okna 800 is a great window, one of the more attractive vinyl windows out there, and would serve you very well. That said, based on some of your concerns on vinyl window welds, the overall "look" of vinyl, etc, Okna actually has an option or two that fit exactly what you are talking about. In particular, the Starmark composite has a matte finish that looks like painted wood, hidden butt joined welds (looks like wood window construction), as well as better thermal and structural ratings than anything else on the market. Stunning window, top performer, I think it would check all of your boxes. Installation is a critical factor as well, and WoW is the best in the business.

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TheWindowNerd
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#14 Post by TheWindowNerd »

Pella has put their money where their mouth is, limited lifetime, they say they have fixed it. But their past and present, how they treat customers that had frame failures, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As with most companies the upper and middle manangement is product blind.
So a limited yes to have they fixed it?
You have to decide on the design. I think you should get renderings of each design before proceeding. This is one area Pella can help, they have a service, Design Works, that will do the renderings, pay for it and have them do all the design you are considering. Again I would suggest a CPC, PCC, or WOW to help with this.
Heres an inside scoop. The big three do not make their own glass, they have Cardinal do it. It is with out a doubt the best glass. Okna makes their own except in shapes then it comes from Ventana. I do not know who makes Ventanas glass. But you are know looking at being twice removed from the source, different than the strategic partnership that the big 3 have with Cardinal.
I would ask each vendor and installer how they handle seal failure.

theWindowNerd

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HomeSealed
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Re: Window Suggestion Help - Vinyl vs ? - Have Quotes

#15 Post by HomeSealed »

TheWindowNerd wrote: Thu Dec 31, 2020 9:21 am Pella has put their money where their mouth is, limited lifetime, they say they have fixed it. But their past and present, how they treat customers that had frame failures, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As with most companies the upper and middle manangement is product blind.
So a limited yes to have they fixed it?
You have to decide on the design. I think you should get renderings of each design before proceeding. This is one area Pella can help, they have a service, Design Works, that will do the renderings, pay for it and have them do all the design you are considering. Again I would suggest a CPC, PCC, or WOW to help with this.
Heres an inside scoop. The big three do not make their own glass, they have Cardinal do it. It is with out a doubt the best glass. Okna makes their own except in shapes then it comes from Ventana. I do not know who makes Ventanas glass. But you are know looking at being twice removed from the source, different than the strategic partnership that the big 3 have with Cardinal.
I would ask each vendor and installer how they handle seal failure.

theWindowNerd
While I agree that Pella has made progress, there is a big, hairy, stinky, steaming caveat on their "lifetime" warranty. Damage due to condensation is still only 10 years of coverage (not lifetime), and that is the most common source of premature failure for wood windows. They did fix the design flaw that caused them to rot from the inside out so that's a plus, but the "lifetime" warranty can be very misleading.

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