What you are about to read is a true story from a real customer. No words have been changed. The only thing that has been altered is that I have divided the customer’s experience into chapters – milestones in the process of replacing their windows. From the decision to replace windows, to the research, to the purchase of the replacement windows, and the installation, all chronicled to provide a learning and buying process for us all.
The customer whose provided this story resides in our service area which includes Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and the rest of Colorado’s urban corridor.
I encourage your comments, and honor any questions you may have that pertain to your specific situation. Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org as the story unfolds each week for the next five weeks.
Now on to Chapter I … To Replace or Not to Replace?
Let me preface this by saying that before August 2009 we had not even thought about window replacement, nor did we know much about the subject. However, we were forced to learn very quickly!
Our house had Oldach wood interior, aluminum clad exterior, windows installed as original windows when the house was built 16 years ago. Like many of the Oldach installations, we had experienced poor sealing and the window frames had started to rot. We tried to repair the rotted frames with wood filler and hardener but soon realized it was an uphill battle that would not end well. Reluctantly, in September, we started our investigation for replacement windows.
Our search began by pouring in hours of Internet search time, reading blogs, on-line whine lines, etc… to try and determine reputable manufacturers, installers, things to look for, engineering and design data on windows. We also researched Consumer Reports and we checked with our personal network, some folks who are in the construction business, to see if there were any immediate standouts or avoidances.
The three brands that we narrowed down our final search to for replacement windows were: Pella, Renewal by Anderson and Marvin. The next phase was to go look for ourselves at the showrooms, talk to the sales personnel and get a feel for how the entire process works. After visiting the showrooms we invited sales people to the house for full pricing quotes.
In terms of criteria for the quotes, we wanted to ensure that we kept our wood interior look and feel that we had with the Oldach windows and we wanted white exteriors that require no maintenance. Thus, we were limited to a composite design, either a clad window or one that would give us a wood veneer interior. Additionally, we also wanted to replace the existing windows with better quality and more energy efficient design and construction.
Combining all these constraints, the brands and window lines we compared were:
- Marvin Integrity (wood interior, pultruded fiberglass exterior)
- Marvin Ultimate (wood interior, aluminum extruded exterior)
- Renewal by Andersen (PVC and recycled wood composite with wood veneer interior)
- Pella Proline (wood interior, aluminum sheet metal clad exterior)
- Pella Designer (wood interior, aluminum sheet metal clad exterior, but with more options)
We developed a quote comparison table to help with our selection. The comparison criteria were:
- costs (materials, installation and finishing costs)
- ‘ratings’ (energy efficiency, design pressure rating, warranty, perceived quality & reliability)
- size deviation from existing windows
- features (screen types, will the shades fit? do they come with shades?)
- installation (are the installers dedicated to this company and its windows, or are they handymen?)
All windows quoted had low-E-Coat glass and in this case, the ‘ratings’ we used were as rated by Consumer Reports, probably the most neutral and least opinionated ratings we could find.