The Best Replacement Windows – Choosing an Installation Company

So you’ve picked out the best replacement windows for you, but how do you evaluate the installation company?  This half the battle as having great replacement windows installed by a less than great installer will ruin your day.

The first step is the easiest: read our page on common replacement window sales tricks.  These will not only help you avoid getting hoodwinked, but they will help to identify which companies are planning on treating you well BEFORE you bother meeting with them.

For instance, if a company requires both homeowners to be present you know you’re in for a sales pitch.  This isn’t something you should plan on enduring.  It should be used as a sign to avoid that company all together.  Just cross them off the list and move on.  There are plenty of great companies in your area and you absolutely do not need to deal with that kind of junk.

Once you have these companies crossed of your list it’s time to do a little research.  We’re not talking about spending every waking minute worrying about windows, but an ounce of prevention goes a long way…

I’d suggest taking a look through review sites.  You can find reviews on google and Angie’s List tends to provide a wealth of info too.

Once you have narrowed things down to 3-5 companies have them come out to take a look through the project and give you an exact quote.  If anybody gives you the runaround just send them on their way and move on to the next company.

We know this sounds like basic advice, but people get pressured into on gimmick or another every day.

Once you find a great company to install your great windows you’ll be sure you have the best replacement windows in your neighborhood.

Take a look through our pages on replacement window reviews and common sales gimmicks for more detailed info.

 

Best Replacement Windows

So what are the best replacement windows?  There’s a question that’s been asked a million times before.  As you’re sorting through the options remember that there is no one “best” product.  If there was, everyone would know it and your decision would be easy.

Why isn’t there one type of best replacement windows?

There are several reasons, but the biggest factor is that different people want  different things.  For instance, some of our customers buy windows because they’re moving soon and they want to dress up the house.  Some buy new windows because they’re about to have a baby and they want to make the house less drafty.  Some folks buy new windows as part of a larger remodeling project and some folk just want to make their home more comfortable in the hot summer.  The best replacement windows for each of these folks are completely different.

So, before you can decide what the best replacement windows are for you, you’ll need to be really clear about these factors:

  • How long are you planing on living in the home?
  • If you don’t live in the home at all, are you flipping the house, renting or is a family member living there?
  • Rank these characteristics: efficiency, looks, durability/warranty, price

Once you have a more clear idea of what you’re looking for the question of what are the best replacement windows will become easier to answer.

For example, if you’re going to be renting the house you’ll want windows that look nice, and won’t cause problems.  Perhaps you’re less concerned with efficiency and price is probably an important concern.  You probably don’t want junk, but you also don’t need the greatest windows ever produced by mankind.

On the other hand, if you’ve just bought your new home and you’re undergoing a substantial remodel to turn it into your dream house that you plan on living in for the rest of your days you probably have a different set of priorities.  You want a product that looks great, keeps the house as comfortable as possible and will last a very long time.

Of course, even if you’re in the exact same situation as someone else you still may end up choosing a different product.  You might be more concerned about a product that looks and feels great like a wood window or maybe a fiberglass option while someone else might want the most efficient option available which would probably be a triple pane vinyl window.

 So you’re starting to see why there are so many options.  Why isn’t it easy to find answers regarding the best replacement windows?

Well, it’s a competitive business.  There are just about no patents in the industry so every company is building windows from the same parts and they’re fighting to earn your business.

Companies that are trying to produce the “best replacement windows” are all fighting to say they’re better than the rest.  Companies trying to produce the least expensive products for the price sensitive customer are all trying to be less expensive than the rest.

Keep this intense competition in mind when you’re learning about new windows.

A wise man once said, “before you can find the answer, you must find the question”.  Don’t bother trying to find the best replacement windows until you really understand what you want.

If you’re thinking vinyl windows and you’re interested in being on the low end of the price spectrum you’ll see companies all over the place advertising “new windows installed for $189” or sometimes even less.  Of course they’ll try to up sell you on all sorts of options so most end up being easily double that price.

You’ll also find companies that claim to offer the “best replacement windows” with a 3 hour sales pitch that leads to one discount after another in an effort to get you to sign up right away.  I always ask why they need to work so hard to sell these windows if they really are so good.  You’d think if they genuinely were the best replacement windows folks would just buy them and the dramatic sales pitch wouldn’t be necessary.

So, be sure you don’t waste your time meeting with companies and sorting through options until you have a clear idea of what you want.    Start to get an idea of what the best replacement windows for you will look like.

Once you have an idea of what you want and how you’ll rank the variables of efficiency, looks, durability/warranty, price you’ll be ready to start finding a local window company.  A quick google search will show you more window companies in your area than you can shake a stick at.  For example, when I google “replacement window company” I get 102,000,000 results.  That’s a lot.

Here’s another post on how to identify the best replacement window installation company.  stay tuned.   For now, take a look through some replacement window reviews get an idea of what’s out there.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.

Triple Pane vs Double Pane Windows

When deciding on triple pane vs double pane glass for your new windows there are several important factors to consider.  There are differences in sound transmission, weight, efficiency and cost.  Here we’ll take a look at all 5 factors to help you make the best decision for you and your home.

double pand vs triple pane windows, cost, prices, noise and sound
When comparing double pane vs triple pane windows there are many factors to consider.

How about noise through triple pane vs double pane windows?

It is VERY common for replacement window salespeople to tell folks that windows with triple pane glass will reduce noise in the home.  In fact, switching from double pane to triple pane has a very small impact on sound.  You’d be much better served by going with laminated glass.  We go into more depth on this in our sound transmission post.  The long and the short of it is if you’re buying triple pane windows to reduce noise you’re overspending.

best replacement windows of 2015

Are triple pane windows heavy?

Well, yes they are heavier, but it shouldn’t matter to you.  A high quality replacement windows will have a balance mechanism to counterbalance the weight of the sash.  Regardless of how heavy the glass is the window should slide up and down effortlessly.  If your new windows are hard to open it’s either because the balance mechanism is not working correctly, the windows don’t fit in the opening just right or something else is impeding their motion.  The weight of the glass or the sash shouldn’t have an impact.

Along these same lines, some folks think triple pane windows will have a higher failure rate because of the weight and the fact that they have 2 air chambers.  This stems either from the days of old or from a salesperson pushing an agenda.  All nice new windows come with a complete warranty that protects you against any future problems.

How beneficial are triple pane energy efficient windows?

There is certainly an improvement in efficiency when comparing triple pane vs double pane windows.  It’s important to compare the window ratings including u-factor, shgc and visible transmission when comparing the options in order to understand the differences.

Triple pane windows will typically have u-factors that are about 20-30% better than a similar double pane window.  That’s a pretty substantial improvement.  They will also have better SHGC ratings as they tend to have two surfaces coated with a low-e coating.  These coatings will leave you with a lower visible transmission rating meaning it will typically be darker in a home with triple pane windows.

Are these increases in efficiency worth the trade off of increased cost and decreased light?  Only you can decide that, but with the cost difference likely being lower than you might expect more folks are picking triple pane options.

single pane, double pane, triple pane
Some folks even compare single pane with double and triple pane options.

Cost of triple pane vs double pane windows:

In my experience, when the topic of triple pane glass comes up some homeowners immediately say “oh no, we don’t need that!”  I find they tend to say that because they’ve received a quote for windows with triple pane glass before and the pricing was HIGH.  This led them to believe that pricing for all triple pane windows will be high.

As with everything relating to prices of replacement windows there are many factors at play, but the cost difference doesn’t need to be too substantial.  Perhaps $100 per window is a decent estimate.  So if you can get a great vinyl replacement window installed for around $350 with double pane glass then switching to triple pane glass would put you in the $450 neighborhood.  Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s nowhere near the $800 per window that some companies try to charge.

Why do some companies try to charge $800-$1000 per window for triple pane windows? 

We’ll be writing a whole series on the tricky practices of some window companies out there.  The short answer is because people pay it sometimes.  If nobody was buying they’d either change their ways or go out of business.  Congrats to you for not taking the bait, but you can be sure there was someone behind you snapping it up.

These companies will likely tend to continue to struggle due to the fact that people are much more informed than they were years ago.

Remember, when deciding between triple pane vs double pane think about how long you’ll be in the home and whether energy savings over time are worth spending money upfront today.  

If you haven’t taken a look yet, try out our window reviews pages to get a better idea of the options.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here

If you’re already a member of Angie’s List or if you’re just not going to join (despite my ringing endorsement), you can find our suggestions for the best companies in your area right here.

Home Depot Window Installations

Note: Since we published this post we’ve been in touch with Home Depot and they’ve provided some additional information.  The original post is here and you can see additional notes at the end.

So here’s a funny story.  I was recently visiting the team at a home and garden show in Richmond VA.  We had some information to show prospective customers regarding typical pricing for replacement windows.  We try to be as transparent as we can regarding all of the costs associated with a project like this and we find customers tend to appreciate it.

One of our examples showed a real quote that one of our customers received from Home Depot At Home Services along with the quote he received from us.  We use this to illustrate the idea that we can typically offer better pricing for similar products that a big box store.    The example shows our pricing was over $2,000 better for a typical project than the pricing offered by Home Depot window installations team.

While we were there, someone with some affiliation to Home Depot window installations came up to one of our managers and told him that our information was incorrect.  We asked him what was incorrect and he stated that Home Depot At Home Services offers a lifetime warranty on their labor.  We’ve never heard this before and we’re pretty in tune with the window business so we asked him for a copy of the warranty.  At first he said it was proprietary and when we asked why their warranty would be a secret he said we could find it online.

Our goal is always to be accurate so we checked online and found that the Home Depot At Home Services website clearly states that they offer a 1 year labor warranty.  This isn’t the end of the world, but it is a pretty short warranty.  It would be a real shame to pay thousands more for a project and then have to pay again a year later to fix something.

Our manager tried to show the friendly gentleman from Home Depot that their own website was pretty clear, but he didn’t seem interested.  He told us he was a district manager in charge of 90+ stores.  You’d think he’d have his facts straight 😉

Anyway, we got a kick out of it.  Here’s a screen shot of their site and a link as well.

home depot window warranty
Here’s a screen shot straight from the Home Depot website. Seems pretty clear to us.

 

Home Depot At Home Services – Why Home Depot

 Update: Since we wrote this post we’ve been in touch with Home Depot and they’ve provided some clarity on their warranty for installed replacement windows.  Home Depot offers 2 main lines of replacement windows through their installation program.  They are American Craftsman (made by Andersen) and Vantage Point (made by Simonton).

The American Craftsman windows from Andersen come with the 1-yera labor warranty that we mention above.  This is pretty weak, but folks buying these windows likely aren’t focusing on getting top quality.

The Vantage Point windows from Simonton do come with a lifetime labor warranty.  They call it a craftsmanship warranty which the salesperson in me really likes.  Craftsmanship sounds nice and warm.  They did provide us with a written warranty this time which we certainly appreciated.  The labor warranty comes from Home Depot and not from Simonton, and that’s the way all labor warranties work.

There are some limitations which mean it’s not the greatest warranty we’ve ever seen, but it is better than the 1-year warranty that comes with the cheaper products.  We’ll likely write up a full post on window warranties from big box stores in the future.

Thanks to the folks at Home Depot for providing additional info about their services.

If anyone reading this has any specific questions on the warranty or the limitations post a comment and ask!

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to join Angie’s List.  For just a couple bucks you can get a 1-month membership and it’ll be worth much more than a caramel macchiato in the long run.  You can find the best pricing for Angie’s List on the internet right here