Getting the best picture

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Gussie JB
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2021 11:42 pm

Getting the best picture

#1 Post by Gussie JB »

I am in the middle of choosing replacements for the majority of the windows in my 1950's split level. As a true beginning learner about all-things-windows, I'm working hard to understand and consider the many aspects of this purchase, and while I have learned quite a bit, I am in awe of the technical expertise your panel reveals in your posts. Thanks for giving the time to educating and assisting people like me!

I am stuck on some points that I hope you are willing to weigh in on. At my slow rate of decision-making, I expect it will be a spring installation. I have had three highly rated local installers visit so far and have pretty much ruled out one of them. Bids are for white windows inside and out.

I have a 1950's split level in Wisconsin. Before Covid hit, I had just begun to explore doing an overall upgrade to my house to remodel the basement, improve air sealing, get new energy star boiler and A/C and get new windows. After an energy audit 13 years ago, attic was insulated and some air sealing done. But the house is still pretty leaky and on windy winter days, darned drafty especially in the master bedroom and family room add-on, both of which face northwest. Most of the windows and patio door have double walled cellular blinds, which do help.
An energy specialist I talked with by phone at the beginning of the Covid shutdown last year warned me that these changes should all happen sort of at the same time, since the tightness of the house determines HVAC size; etc. He didn't want to do a site visit, but recommended I focus on research in the interim. I have tried to do this, but it's an uphill slog for someone with no construction background.
Now into the second year of Covid with short supplies and very busy contractors, I still haven't gotten going with anybody on this.
Meanwhile my windows are really conking out. So I have decided they need to be replaced in the next 6 months, even though the rest of the house is leaking air in other as yet unknown places. I do suspect there is air leakage between the windows and the walls; I can feel a draft between the wood trim and the plaster walls.
All this to explain my reasoning that the windows should be “full replacement, ” not just inserts.

QUESTION 1. Am I really right in thinking the “full” option will include better insulation around the window frames?

The windows I want to replace are wood of varying ages, but at least 30 years old. Most of the windows and patio door have double walled cellular blinds. They are:

8 35” x 38” single pane doublehungs set side by side in 4 openings. These have aluminum storm/screen units. The outsides of the windows have lost much of their caulk and the aluminum jambs no longer hold them in place.

1 master bedroom opening approx. 110x 50, with center fixed double pane approx 60 x 50 and side doublehungs (same type as above). The center pane is leaking and the doublehungs have same problems as above.

1 Large window in family room added on in 90's (?). This window has a center fixed double pane that is 8 feet wide, with 2 foot casements on each side. The double panes in the casements are very close together (¼ inch? ). Approx. 60 inches tall. The wood is not in good shape and big window seal leaks. I love this unbroken view of my back garden and would like to keep this configuration.

1 double pane patio door approx 77 x 82. also in the family room addition. This door leaks lots of air and the exterior wood opening is in bad shape.

1 Fixed 3 pane picture window in original living room approx. 107 x 60. These are old double panes with leaking seals. **This window is peculiar, in that below the wood frame are plywood transoms which were simply covered by siding in a long ago “upgrade”. More recently, spray foam was added to the opening. See photos.


transom view.jpg
front pic window.jpg

QUESTION 2. How to handle this window? Note the hot water baseboards about 6 inches below. I want the new window to have some parts that open for ventilation, but I am struggling with how they should be configured and whether this particular window should be an insert because of those transoms.

BID Soft Lites Elements dbl pane with low e glass. $23, 950
Rep said this is the only coating version they suggest for this part of the country. According to brochure, U-factor is .26, SHGC .26 and VT .48. Quote is for full install of all windows except the one with the transoms. It also includes full install of patio door and full Betterview screens.
This guy was very nice, but nervous about my main floor picture windows.
(see Q. 2) On the picture window with the transoms, he said his installer would only agree to an insert installation that would retain the three panels which are each nearly 3 feet wide. We tentatively settled on a fixed panel in the middle, with the side panels being fixed panels above awnings to provide needed ventilation. I am not sure I will like how this will look from the exterior. But if I used casements, there would be screens on two thirds of the room side and not sure I would like that either. If the space were a ¼, ½, ¼ division, the casement screens would be less conspicuous at least. Any ideas?
After checking he said the large opening in the family room could be done by ordering the two 2 foot casements and the eight foot wide picture window (“the biggest one they make”) and installing them together on site.


BID Restorations $29,200 for double pane low e “U-28” with full install of all windows and patio door. While here, the rep. quickly calculated this total bid number. Then he offered an upgrade option to triple pane AR-90 “U-21” at a “short term special price” only slightly above the first bid. I asked him to send me a detailed quote. After some nudging, he sent an email, not an actual quote, that seemed to indicate the triple panes would be in the doublehungs, with the large windows instead having Omega glass due to weight issues with triple pane. Not clear about the flanking casements.
I'm not real happy about his communication style or the size of his quote. The other installers sent me itemized bids. I did like that the Rep seemed quite knowledgeable about construction and was comfortable with a full install for the front window, using my preferred ¼, ½, ¼. He also said that Sunrise could make a one piece unit for the 12 foot expanse in the family room, keeping the current configuration.

l will try to meet with him again to nail down more details, but realize that I need to get more clear about some preferences on my own.

QUESTION 3 Glass coatings: I am confused about the Sunrise rep's glass options; the Restorations brochure shows “Ultra U Plus” having .28 for both U factor and SHGC, while the optional Ultra U Plus2 with interior low-e has a U factor of .24. But the rep's quick bid form shows “R-4, low E double Pane, U-28.” This is not as good as the Elements. The triple pane with Argon changes to .22 for both.

QUESTION 4 Light trade-offs I'm trying to find the right balance between controlling SHG, getting good U-factors given the big windows, and still maintaining a good amount and color of light. I love my 3 picture windows which each have fine garden views in the warmer months and bring in very welcome light in the winter. There's lots of shade to the east, south and west so the house can be pretty dark in summer, even with the big windows. Unfortunately the shade doesn't screen the late afternoon summer sun that pours through the big windows in the master BR and family room as well as the patio door on the northwest facing family room. I have to pull the cellular shades down completely for a couple of hours... Would the interior low e coating cut the glare enough to allow the shades to be up? Is the low-e affect about the same for the Elements and the Sunrise Ultra U Plus?

I'm having a hard time finding VT ratings for the Restoration glass options. I know the slimmer frames are supposed to help overall. I'm mostly concerned about the darkness of the glass. The rep showed me a small cutaway of the triple pane and said not everyone liked that it was darker. But I couldn't get a sense of how that small sample would translate to a bigger window. And he didn't bring up the features of the Omega while he was here. Is that about equally dark? Again, in the brochure, Omega glass drops the solar heat gain from .28 to .21, but doesn't change the U factor. Why is that?

QUESTION 5 Re the 12 foot span in the family room. This is on the northwest wall and there is a heating baseboard running below it. The Restorations installation would be delivered with the casements molded with the picture window, while the Elements would come in three pieces, which I suspect could have somewhat more air leakage. Since the Restorations has some fiberglass reinforcement and the XLEdge spacer, I'm assuming it's a safer choice, but I did see somewhere online that there could be issues with these wide windows sagging. Would the baseboards increase this risk? I know there are warranties, but I sure wouldn't want to have complications in this big space.

QUESTION 6 Condensation: Sunrise rep noted that condensation would be less with the triple pane. I didn't think to ask at the time, but now I wonder if they are finding condensation is a problem with the double panes? I keep the house at 67 during the day/ 62 at night in the cold months and use the cellular blinds. I recently read that the blinds actually cause more condensation. Will this continue to be an issue with these new windows? Since this would be a full install, the Restorations windows would include wood frames and I wouldn't want moisture damage.

I did get another bid from an Okna installer with a great reputation, but the rep said they would only do inserts in my windows. And the inserts would need to divide the picture windows ¼, ½, ¼, so I would not be able to retain my wide expanse in the family room. He did say they would add aluminum cladding to outside and address damage if they found any. But I wasn't excited about sticking vinyl windows inside my existing wood frames, or decreasing the amount of light, or the reconfiguration of the picture window, and had my mind pretty set on a full install.

The Elements and Sunrise installers both would do what sounded like a thorough full installation with new insulation where needed, interior wood or wood-look frames, and aluminum cladding on the exterior.

I'm leaning toward the straight double pane version of the Restorations with the low e, but they are quite a bit more expensive and I feel like the rep is kind of playing me. I do plan to visit each installer's showroom to focus more on the actual look/feel of the windows and glass.

I also just learned of a Polaris showroom so will have a look there and see if I want them to give me a quote if they have the Ultraweld windows.

I apologize for the length of this post. Thanks for all you do!

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TheWindowNerd
Posts: 2011
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: SE PA & NJ; DFW/Metroplex

Re: Getting the best picture

#2 Post by TheWindowNerd »

The best guy to answer your questions is going to be Homesealed.

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Windows on Washington
Posts: 4774
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:23 am
Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC

Re: Getting the best picture

#3 Post by Windows on Washington »

Where are you in WI?

Gussie JB
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2021 11:42 pm

Re: Getting the best picture

#4 Post by Gussie JB »

I am in Madison.

User avatar
Windows on Washington
Posts: 4774
Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:23 am
Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC

Re: Getting the best picture

#5 Post by Windows on Washington »

I would reach out to HomeSealed and see if he will cover your area. That would be my go to.

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