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Mar 2016

How do window replacement companies pick the windows they offer?

The window replacement market in the United States is dominated by local firms.  Window replacement companies with a national foot print, Champion, Home Depot, Sears, etc., are the exception.  More than 90% of replacement windows installed in the United States in 2014 were provided by local companies.

Each of these companies strives to differentiate themselves but often they rely on their window brand to do that. Just focusing on the window brand can lead to problems for homeowners, particularly if their sales person is very good and convinces them this is the only window worth having.  Slick high pressure sales includes phony first visit offers (they are always, always, always fake) and the red herring effect.

Is there a wide range of quality when it comes to vinyl windows?  Yes and no.

There are two family branches in vinyl window and door fenestration: new construction and a re modeler’s window.  New construction vinyl typically is a single hung (only the bottom sash moves up and down), comes with a 10 year limited warranty and the biggest mistake to make in selecting windows — the dual pane glass is clear.  No LOW E glazing and argon gas filled.

Replacement windows offer more options and are more energy efficient and robust than new construction vinyl windows. Example frame size on a new construction vinyl window is 2.75″.  On a replacement window the frame size is 3.25″.

Low E glazing (Low Emissivity) is a process where a microscopic layer of silver is directly applied to the glass.  This fantastic technology makes our glass reflect its heat source.  In the winter our heat is inside and the summer outside.

This process reduces heat loss/gain by 15 to 30% and is the reason that over time, new windows will pay for themselves by permanently reducing energy use.

Argon gas is an inert gas heavier than air and enabling even further heat loss/gain.  Industry experts attribute an additional 6-8% energy efficiency due to the argon gas.

The reality is there are a number of good replacement windows on the market.  Look at the warranties.  LEGACY Window and Door windows come complete with LIFETIME Transferable Warranties.  This type of warranty covers the original owner for any defect including glass breakage and hermetic seal failure.

When you invite a window and door company into your home they will present a window to you.  They may or may not tell you the manufacturer and even then they may try to mislead you and tell you it’s “their” window.  Manufacturers will private label a window for specific companies with the necessary volume.

For some companies its important for them to have an “exclusive window”.  Rarely is this true that the window is exclusive and even then that may not be a good thing. Having worked for Simonton Windows previously I understand the pressures manufacturers are under to produce building products that have competitive edges.  The reality is a quality manufacturer is going to make a quality product and tell the end user to differentiate themselves with installation, service, etc.

The window quality is important but only as important as the measurement and of course the installation.  when you’re shopping for new windows ask about all three.  When the response is “I leave that to the experts”, get ready for some high pressure sales.

Happy window shopping!

a bow window adds depth inside and character outside
a bow window adds depth inside and character outside


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