Unfortunately another smaller window manufacturer has closed their doors for good. It looks like Vista Window Company is gone. Their voicemail says they closed due to unforeseen circumstances and their google listing says they’re closed for good. We always hate to see a company struggle. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to continue to get more difficult for smaller window companies to compete.
What happens with the Vista Windows Warranty?
We’ve reached out to Vista Window Company and asked about the status of any pending orders and if there is any process for warranty claims as I’m sure our readers will be asking.
Right now, I would guess that there is no warranty and owners of these windows may be out of luck. If we hear back with any info I’ll update this page right away.
What about pending orders for Vista Windows?
If you have an order pending for Vista windows I’d reach out to your contractor or dealer right away to make sure they can offer you something else. Most reputable contractors will have credit terms established with manufacturers so they likely haven’t actually paid for your windows. That means the contractor still has any deposit you’ve given them and you can (hopefully) order something else. If they tell you the deposit is spent you might want to check with an attorney as you’ll probably have a hard time getting that money back.
If you hear any info that is different than what we’re written here please let us know asap. You can post a comment or contact us privately. I’m sure many folks will have questions about the status of Vista Window Company so any info you have to share will be helpful.
What if I was about to order Vista Windows?
Consider yourself lucky! It’s time to order something else. I’d look towards larger manufacturers. You never know what the future may hold for any company, but there are plenty of large and we’ll established companies out there. There’s no need to take a gamble on a smaller player.
If/when we receive any new information on Vista Windows we’ll post it on this page so feel free to bookmark this page and check back for updates anytime.
If you’re looking for the very best window company in Manchester and the surrounding area you’re in luck! My company, Window Universe, is offering windows in the Manchester area (and most of New Hampshire) and I’d be happy to personally help you with a window order.
We’re a little different than most companies in that we will email you our complete price list so you can see what everything will cost. We’ll listen to what you’re trying to accomplish and make a suggestion that will accomplish your goals.
In the Manchester area we’re currently offering 7 models of windows with over 100 energy efficient options. We have the solution to just about every window problem which is why I’m confident we’re the best window company in Manchester.
Best of all we’re doing it with no pushy in-home salespeople!
If you’d like to get a simple and easy quote for your project the process is pretty easy. You can either complete the form at the end of this post and we’ll be in touch with more info.
Update: The friendly folks at Kensington HPP have reached out to us with some new info about their company and it’s relationship to another company formerly known as Kensington Windows. This post is an update to an earlier post I wrote about Kensington. Everything you’ll read in this post is accurate as far as I know based on my conversations with the folks at Kensington HPP.
So, with that said, if a google search for Kensington Windows lead you to this page you’ll fall into one of two camps.
If you have Kensington Windows in your house and you’re looking for warranty or service information:
You’ll want to pay close attention to when the windows were manufactured. There was another company, legally unrelated to the current company, that went out of business in 2008. They don’t exist anymore and if you have warranty issue you’re likely out of luck.
If your windows were manufactured after that you’re likely in luck and you can contact Kensington HPP or the contractor that installed them for service issues.
If you’re shopping for new windows and a contractor recommended windows from Kensington HPP then you’re in better shape. Here’s the scoop on that company.
After the old Kensington Windows company went out of business in 2008 and the assets of that company and another window manufacturer called Republic Windows in Chicago were purchased by Serious Materials out of California in 2009. They were trying to get into the window business on the cheap during the financial crisis.
I remember reading an article about their maneuvers with the financing and the unions back then thinking they sounded like a smart group of people. Unfortunately that plan didn’t work out so well and Serious left the window business in 2013.
A group of the former executives from the old Kensington Windows got together and reopened a new company called Kensington HPP that now offers windows in most of the eastern half of the country. If you’re wondering Kensington HPP stands for High Performance Products.
They took over operations from Serious in 2013 so they’re been around in their current form for 4 years or so as of this writing. That certainly doesn’t make them the lowest tenured company around, but we all started out somewhere. My company is about to turn 10 years old and when we had only been in business for 4 years we still offered great service.
The models offered by Kensington HPP are:
Euro Tilt and Turn
At this point I don’t have enough info about their products to offer great reviews, but if they send the info I’ll be happy to publish more content.
They are also the only vinyl window manufacturer in the country that uses heat mirror technology. This is a 3 pane sealed unit with the center pane being a plastic material instead of glass. I’ve heard of some rather high prices for Heat Mirror products. To decide if it’s right for you be sure to get past the sales jargon and compare the efficiency ratings vs the cost. You should be able to tell rather easily if the increase in efficiency is worth the increase in cost.
If I hear about any new info from the folks at Kensington HPP I’ll be happy to post it and if you have any experience with their company or their products feel free to post a comment for everyone to see.
When shopping for replacement windows, one of the majors factors that folks consider is the window warranty. The warranty coverage on your new windows is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is that you want some security in knowing that you will have long term support on a purchase of thousands of dollars. Like many things in the marketplace, window warranties are part real concern, and part sales and marketing. I like to break warranties down to two primary areas: Product Warranty and Installation/Workmanship Warranty.
The product warranty on a replacement window is exactly that. It is the length of time that a manufacturer will provide warranty coverage for manufacturer defects. Generally that will not include items such as damage from abuse, failure to maintain, etc. However, it does provide for replacement parts should anything fail due to a manufacturer defect. Common items include failed glass seals in an insulated glass unit, defective hardware, warpage, etc. Some manufacturers offer accidental glass breakage as part of their coverage as well. Most vinyl window manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty, while wood windows generally have some variation of a 20/10 warranty, meaning 20 years on glass and 10 years on everything else including the wood.
Things to watch for:
Transferability is important if you are considering selling the home any time soon. This means that you will be able to transfer the product warranty to one or more future owners of the home. Proration is an often overlooked factor. “Prorated” means that while there is coverage for the entire warranty term, it goes down over time. This is similar to a car battery or roofing shingle, where you have 100% coverage for say the first 10 years, then the coverage starts dropping in increments where you are paying an increasing portion of that as time goes on. Ideally, a warranty that is fully transferrable and not prorated is best.
What product warranties typically do not cover:
Abuse, acts of God (ie: fires, storms, etc. that would be covered be homeowner’s insurance). Product warranties typically will not cover any labor needed to install the replacements parts. That falls on you as the homeowner, or on the installation company if they offer that service, whether it be paid or at no charge to you. The “fail to maintain” provision can be tricky on wood windows where condensation can damage or rot the wood before the 10 years and potentially be denied as a claim.
The installation warranty on your replacement windows while important, can vary wildly from one dealer to the next. One company may offer one year on workmanship/installation, while the next offers lifetime, and a third still somewhere in between. The fact of the matter is that most installation related issues will manifest themselves visually within the first year or two after install, so something like a 5 or 10 year warranty is generally adequate. That said, many companies offer 20+ years all the way through lifetime. A lifetime workmanship warranty may sound great in marketing, but remember that the installation warranty is only as good as the company offering it. If all else is equal, certainly a longer term only benefits you as a consumer.
Things to watch for:
Service call/diagnosis charges, coverage to install the parts that are provided under the manufacturer’s warranty and for how long, a list of items that are included or excluded.
What installation warranties typically do not cover:
Installation warranties are intended to cover any poor or defective installation practices. Therefore common things that would be considered maintenance items like caulking, cleaning tracks and such which could hinder operation, etc., are typically not covered or the coverage is limited.
Every window warranty is not created equal. “Lifetime warranty” whether on product or installation may not mean the same thing from one company to the next, so take a look at the details and make sure that you are getting the protection that you are expecting. Also keep in mind that those warranties are only as strong as the companies offering them. Company history and reputation are important tools to look at. Lastly, “Lifetime” does have a quantifiable definition in most states. Here in Wisconsin, “Lifetime” for warranty purposes is defined as 30 years. It is recommended that you determine how this is specifically defined in your own location.
Brandon Erdmann is the owner of HomeSealed Exteriors in Milwaukee, WI. He’s a window installation expert, a supporter of this site and an all around great guy. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and you’re thinking about new windows you should give Brandon a ring. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s a little bit of terminology that is often misunderstood. What are the differences between single hung vs double hung windows? Here we’ll take a look at the basic definition and we’ll look at some of the other advantages and disadvantages including the cost, the operation, the screens, how they function and the typical price.
First things first! The basic definition:
Both single hung and double hung windows open up and down. The difference is that in a single hung window the bottom sash opens up and down, but the top does not move.
In a double hung window the bottom sash slides up and down AND the top sash also opens and closes.
Well, that’s really up to you. One important thing to keep in mind is that a single hung window does not allow the top sash to tilt in for easy cleaning. That means the bottom will tilt in, but the top will not. Is that a big deal? Only you can decide.
Beyond that many people don’t open the top very often so the difference is not important to them. We open the top quite a bit in my house as the window dog is a redbone coonhound from the hills of West Virginia and he would go straight through a screen if he saw a varmint in the yard. For us it is very important that the top opens, but you may have different priorities.
What is the price difference between single hung vs double hung windows?
This is a question we get asked a lot. The difference typically isn’t huge, but it can add up. The two windows are essentially the same with the single hung having less hardware. The cost difference between the two will depend on the manufacturer, but it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a price difference of $20-$40 per window.
If you have 20 windows in your house that amount can add up. We’ll often suggest switching to single hung windows as a way to save a few bucks, but it really just depends on how you plan on using them.
We hope that helps, for more detailed info on the greatest replacement windows check out these reviews. If there is anything you’re looking for that you can’t find just post a comment or send us an email. We read every single one and we do our best to respond!
Folks ask us all the time if they should get replacement windows or new construction windows. Are the windows the builder uses when they build a new home really any better or worse than the replacement windows that are sold by companies all over town?
We’re going to get to the bottom of this great debate right here. Get ready!
Before you can understand which option is better for you, you’ll need to understand what the terms mean. Basically a new construction or new home window is designed to be installed before the siding or brick is installed on the exterior of the home. A replacement window is designed to be installed after the siding or brick is already on the home.
Take a look at this picture. Here you can see two Pella windows that I bought from Lowes. The two models are very similar, but one has a fin that goes around the perimeter. This is called a nail fin and it is the only real difference between replacement vs new construction windows.
That’s the only difference. Now, some people of varying degrees of honesty may tell you there are other differences beyond the nail fin (also called a nail flange). Let’s take a look at what someone might say.
New constriction windows are builder grade windows. They’re cheap and flimsy.
Manufacturers build new construction windows with builders in mind. Believe it or not they’re more focused on the builder who buys thousands of windows than you, the guy looking to install 15 new windows in your home.
They know that builders want windows fast and cheap so that’s what they make. Builders know that when you’re buying a new home you’re looking at the fancy tub and the shiny kitchen. The windows are often an afterthought so they don’t spend any more money than they need to.
Here’s one way to think about it. When you’re buying a new home you’re buying a whole lot of things all at once. You’re less focused on each individual thing. When you’re buying replacement windows you’r just buying windows. You’re focused on the windows and you’re trying to get the best products you can.
Manufacturers of both new construction and replacement windows know this very well and they prioritize quality and costs based on the typical customer for each product.
If you’re buying new construction windows and you’re looking for quality be careful. It’s easy to go wrong here.
New construction windows will give me more light than replacement windows.
This may be true, but it may not. You’ll need to have a good idea of how the windows will actually go in before you can make that determination. Remember, the only real difference is the nail flange. The window itself is the same.
Often times replacement windows are installed inside the existing wood window frame. This is called a pocket installation because the window is placed in a pocket in the old frame.
There is nothing wrong with this installation method. In fact all new vinyl windows have a 3.25″ jamb depth because they’re designed to be installed in a wood frame.
Could you get more glass area by removing the existing wood frame? Maybe, but maybe not. If you remove the wood frame a new wood frame would typically need to be installed. Sometimes this comes with the windows, sometimes the installer will build it on site, but it is typically part of the installation. Is the new wood frame any thicker or thinner than the old wood frame you removed?
I have no idea, it depends on your house and you’re installer, but the difference is probably not dramatic. This is often used as a sales tactic, but it typically doesn’t make any noticeable difference.
New construction windows form a better seal than replacement windows.
I would expect this idea is spread by folks who are more familiar with new construction window installations. When installing a new construction window it’s easy to see how it’s sealed. Typically the nail flange is fastened to the sheathing then there is a moisture barrier (like a house wrap) and flashing tape applied in a specific manor around the window. When done properly it looks solid and it’s easy to see that it’s done.
In a replacement window installation it’s harder to see because you’re relying on the seal of the existing frame behind the siding. There are literally millions of replacement windows installed each and every year with no epidemic of leaks so it’s safe to assume that if they’re installed properly there is no greater risk of a leak from a new construction or new home windows compared to replacement windows.
So, which one is better?
Like most things in the window business there isn’t necessarily an easy answer. In general new construction windows are cheaper and of lower quality than replacement windows, but there are nice new construction and cheap replacement windows. The best strategy we can suggest is to find some local experts to take a look at your home and make a few suggestions.
We know the window business can be difficult to navigate and we applaud you for taking the time to do your research before making a decision. We would suggest doing the same thing when calling local window companies. We’ve done some of the work for you. For starters you can find our list of the best local window companies right here.
The ThermaStar by Pella Series 10 window is a new construction vinyl window and it offers a great way to illustrate the differences between new construction and replacement windows.
It’s not a fantastic window, but it is widely available. This model is distributed at Lowes stores all over the place. We bought one at a store in Northern Virginia and you can probably find one at a store new you too.
We’ll get deep into the physical and philosophical differences between a new construction window and a replacement window in a future post. For now, here’s what we mean by new construction.
If you can see past my poor artwork, the nail fin is the part that sticks out all the way around the perimeter of the window. This fin goes behind the siding or prick on your home. It’s easy to install a window like this when you’re building a home, harder when you’re remodeling an existing home.
You’ll also notice this is a single hung window. That means the bottom opens up and down, but the top is fixed. The top section does not move, it does not tilt in for easy cleaning, it doesn’t really do anything at all. That is common with new construction windows and it’s a way they keep the costs down.
What’s good about the ThermaStar by Pella Series 10?
Well, it’s not expensive and that’s good. We found a pretty good selection of sizes at our neighborhood Lowes store. I bought a smaller on for this example because I was going to put it in the trunk of my car. The size of this one is 23.5″ x 37.5″ and it cost me something like $115. It includes grids in between the panes of glass and a full screen. Bigger windows do cost a little more.
A window “expert” might tell you why they don’t like this window (I will too), but everyone will agree that it’s not expensive.
Ok, it’s inexpensive, what else is good about it?
Here’s one you may not have expected. It’s pretty energy efficient. This is the NFRC sticker from the window I bought.
You can learn more about window efficiency ratings here, or you can take my word for it. These ratings are pretty solid. It has a decent U-Factor, good Solar Heat Gain Coefficient for the area and a reasonable Visible Transmittance rating. Overall, a solid performer, especially considering the price.
What’s not so good about the ThermaStar by Pella Series 10?
A cynic might say that everything is bad about a window like this, but I’m really trying to keep an open mind in dealing with products like this so I’ll be specific.
First, buying windows from stock sizes is risky. As you’d expect Lowes stocks a range of sizes, but they’re not likely to have every exact size you need. If you’re building a shed and you can cut the hole to match the window, but if you’re installing windows into an existing hole in y our house these might not fit right.
You can do your best to make them fit by modifying the opening, but you’re likely to end up with something that doesn’t look great or doesn’t seal as well as you might like. If you’re considering buying windows from Lowes you’re likely pretty handy, but the result might not be what you’re looking for.
Next, the finishing just doesn’t seem to be too great. As you can see in the picture here, the welds are HUGE.
The lack of attention to finishing touches like this is common on many inexpensive new construction windows. It is not specific to the ThermaStar by Pella Series 10 window. It is ugly and if you’re going to be living in this house for years to come details like this may be important to you.
Next, the screen is really flimsy. It comes with a half screen that is fixed in place. You may or may not prefer a screen that slides up and down, but this screen doesn’t move at it feels flimsy.
We could go on and on about why this is a cheep screen, but we’ll spare yo the details. If you get these windows just be really careful with them.
In the above picture you’ll also see the weep holes in the bottom of the frame. It’s that rectangular hole in the bottom center of the picture. That is a channel for water to get out. It’s a bit of an older design, and they have the opportunity to get clogged or filled up with junk.
So what’s the bottom line?
Well, if you decide this morning that you want to install some new windows in the shed you’re building this afternoon these would be an easy and cheep way to get the project done.
If speed and price are your two driving factors you might want to go for it. If you’re looking for a great fit and great quality you can probably find a better value in a nicer custom made window without braking the bank.
For now, you can take a look through the rest of our window reviews here or if you have a great suggestion for a future Pella window review or window related article just post a comment right here.
Today in the top secret WindowDog lair we have captured a ThermaStar by Pella Series 20 replacement window. You can find these sitting on the shelves at Lowes stores all over the country. We captured this one at a store in Maryland and the same line appears to be in all Lowes stores east of the rockies.
These windows are cheap and that’s the point. This one cost us about $125 and it includes low-e glass and a full screen. That sounds like the best price you’ll find for replacement windows.
Is it worth the cost?
There are a few distinct drawbacks to buying stock replacement windows from a big box store like Lowes and this window will illustrates them well.
First, as you can see on the label, this window has a nominal size of 24×38, and an actual frame size of 23.5″x37.5″. If the holes in your house happen to be just that size then you’re in good shape. If not, you’re going to get creative. You can rip down some lumber and fill an opening by an inch or two to make a stock window fit, but you’re not going to have the prettiest results.
The biggest drawback is the most obvious. They just won’t fit right. You can get cheap custom sized windows from distributors that will still be flimsy, but at least they’ll fit right.
Why are these so cheap?
Here’s a good example, look at this screen. As you can see in the picture below it has a roll-formed frame, the spline is on the outside, the corner keys are exposed, and on and on and on.
If you install this window and never touch that screen for the rest of your life it might hold up. If you try to remove it, or open it, or stare at it for too long it’s going to bend. I’m not sure if I have the words to describe how flimsy it feels in your hands.
Next, let’s look at the quality control. This is a picture of the meeting rail. You can see the big black scratch that came with this window along with the big thick welds.
This was a brand new window and while things do get dirty it’s hard to imagine how it got that scratch. It may have come from the shelves at Lowes, but it was under the plastic wrapping. More likely it came from the Pella plant. It will probably come clean with some soft scrub, but it’s a chore I’d rather not deal with.
As an aside: Soft Scrub will clean anything off of a vinyl window. It’s amazing.
Here is a quick look at the night latches that can limit how far the windows open. This mechanism looks similar to many others out there. I sometimes prefer the type without the button as this seems like it may be a failure point in the future, but it works ok for now.
How about the warranty on the Pella ThermaStar 20 windows from Lowes?
As you’d probably expect the warranties on stock windows from box stores like Lowes aren’t the same what you’d find on nicer windows. In this case you only get 2-years of labor coverage to fix a manufacturing issue and the non-glass components are only covered for 10 years if you don’t live in the home. Many folks might use these windows in a rental property so that is a factor to consider. If you get the fancy blinds between the glass you’ll only get a 5 year warranty. That’s an expensive option to only last 5 years.
Well, the price was about $125, the quality is questionable, the sizes are limited and the warranty is pretty weak. As you might expect this one isn’t a great buy.
If you’re looking to install windows yourself post a comment and we’ll try to direct you to a local distributor that can help you with custom made windows. For something like $25-$50 more per window you can get a MUCH nicer custom made window.
For now you might want to take a look through our detailed replacement window reviews to get a better idea of your options. You’ll be glad you shopped around.
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.
The Revere Berkshire window was the most popular replacement window ever produced by Revere Building Products. They sold hundreds of thousands of Berkshire replacement windows over the years. The window combined many features found in more expensive products with the simple clean lines that Revere widows are known for.
Why was the Revere Berkshire window discontinued?
Time stops for no man (or replacement window). The Revere Berkshire window just got a little long in the tooth. There have been some innovations in the replacement window business and Revere needed to keep up. Newer windows were using true sloped sills and non-metallic reinforcement. The newer replacement windows were achieving slightly better efficiency ratings including better air infiltration ratings. If Revere wanted to continue to offer a top tier replacement window option they needed to change.
What about the Revere Berkshire window warranty?
One of the benefits of working with a large company like Revere is that you can be pretty confident that they’re going to be around for the long haul. The fact that they retooled the Berkshire window to create the new Amherst Plus window is a great sign for past customers.
This means all of the equipment needed to product parts for the older Berkshire windows is still in the plant. Revere has set themselves up to be able to honor their warranty obligations for many years in the future with no problem at all. This is a great sign for past customers.
The Revere Amherst Plus windows are one of the newer replacement window options from Revere Building Products. The Amherst Plus windows occupy the lower end of the replacement window offering and they use a slightly old fashioned design.
First off, it’s completely ok to consider a lower end window option. Maybe you’re moving soon, or renting the house, or you’re just a little on the cheap side. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and I can tell you I’ve been accused of being a little cheap myself. As I’m sure you already know, when you’re going for a lower priced option you’re going to be making sacrifices. It’s important to be clear on what those sacrifices are and how much you’re saving in return. That’s the only way to know if you’re making the best move.
As you’ll see the actual wholesale cost difference between the Amherst Plus and the much nicer Berkshire Elite offering is pretty small. If you’re thinking about Revere replacement windows you may get the best bang for your buck with the Berkshire Elite.
Basically the Revere Amherst Plus is a striped down version of the older Revere Berkshire window. This window was the workhorse of the Revere window line for many years. As the industry progressed it started to look a little dated. Revere needed to upgrade that model in order to stay competitive. To create the new Amherst Plus model they stripped out several features of the older Berkshire window and gave this new offering a fancy new name.
What are the differences?
Basically if you took the old Revere Berkshire window and removed the balance covers, installed a flimsier screen and switched to the cheaper constant force or coil balances and installed single strength glass you’d have an a “new” Amherst Plus window.
Does this mean it’s a bad product?
Nope, but it does mean you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck.
What does the Revere Amherst Plus window cost?
Now for the important part. The actual wholesale cost difference between the Revere Amherst Plus windows and the nicer Revere Berkshire Elite windows is only around $10 per window. That means for just a couple bucks more you can get upgraded balances, double strength glass, better air infiltration ratings, heavier screen frames, etc.
Of course this doesn’t mean that your local contractor will be charging only $10 more for the nicer window. They might be padding their profits a little and showing you a $50 difference in price. Just offer them less and you’ll probably get it.
Only you can decide how cheap you want to be with your new windows. If you’re selling the home or renting it out and you really don’t care about the windows then maybe these are the right products for you. If you’re going to be living in the house for any length of time I would really suggest the nicer product as long as you can get it at a reasonable cost.