Alside Fusion Windows Review

The Alside Fusion windows are the newest offering from Alside. We were one of the first sites to get our hands on a sample of this new product. We’re thankful for the opportunity to write one of the first reviews of the Alside Fusion window. As The Window Dog continues to grow we’re always amazed by the recognition we’re seeing inside the industry. Anyway, back to the review…

Why does the Alside Fusion window exist?

This model replaces the older Centurion and Geneva products which were certainly ready to be put out to pasture. Some might say that this product update is long overdue, but it is a welcome addition to the Alside windows line.

It’s important to remember that this product is intended to be a lower-end offering. It’s not nearly as nice as the Alside Mezzo model that is much nicer. The Alside Fusion model was not designed to be a top quality product and it accomplishes the goal. Any “low-end” replacement window is designed and built for the extremely price sensitive shopper. It’s important to keep that in mind when deciding whether or not this is the right window for you.

Alside Fusion double hung replacement windows
Here’s a pretty picture of the Alside Fusion window.

This product was designed for a house flipper, a landlord

With that in mind it’s a decent window, but certainly not the best replacement window on the market.

It’s clear that Alside didn’t spend a significant amount of energy engineering a new product from the ground up. They basically retooled the now discontinued Alside Excalibur window to cut some cost out of it and rebrand it as a new, cheaper product.

The Alside Excalibur had been the most popular replacement window in the company’s lineup for many years, with millions of units installed across the country every year. That means Alside knew they would need to continue producing that model for warranty work for many years to come. Since they were going to be making these windows anyway they might as well make them share parts with the newer Fusion mode. That was a smart idea.

There are only a handful of changes in this new Alside Fusion product. I would guess the need to produce warranty parts for Excalibur windows was the reason for that.

Changes include:

  • Switching from double strength to single strength glass
  • Switching from heavy duty screen frames to lighter roll formed frame
  • Removing balance covers

Basically if you took an older Alside Excalibur window and installed thinner glass, a cheaper screen and removed the balance covers you’d have a NEW Alside Fusion window. Genius.

Does this mean it’s a bad product?

Absolutely not, but it certainly isn’t a great product either. The design is old and the ratings aren’t stellar. Remember, it’s not designed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s designed to be a price point product and that’s exactly what it is.

Alside Fusion Replacement Windows

So what’s the price of an Alside Fusion window?

As with everything in the replacement window business the retail pricing is determined by the company that will be installing them. Your mileage may vary, but here’s how we would expect the pricing to work.

The actual wholesale cost difference between a window like the Alside Fusion and a nicer product like the Alside Mezzo window is likely only going to be around $20-30. You’re likely going to see a much greater price difference when you actually get quotes. It’s likely that many replacement window companies will try to use the two different models to up sell the Mezzo window and increase their margins. I’d expect that you’ll see retail price differences in the neighborhood of $50 to $100 or even more.

Post a comment below to let us know what sort of retail prices you’ve seen for Alside Fusion windows.

Why you should never buy Alside Fusion windows

In this section we’re typically writing about what a competing salesperson might say about these windows. In this case I might agree with that salesperson.

Overall these window are just not great. They’re a low end option with low end features. The long and short of it is that you’ll be happier paying just a little more for the nicer models.

If you really just need the absolute basics this is probably a better cheap option than you’ll find from other manufacturers, but don’t be cheap. You’re going to have the windows for decades, get something decent.

What about the Alside Fusion window warranty?

The new Fusion window is covered by a pretty comprehensive warranty as are all of the Alside replacement windows. Remember, when assessing the value of a warranty that a large and well established company like Alside is very likely to be around for the long haul.

Alside Fusion Window Warranty

Some of the smaller window manufacturers like Gorell and others that have gone out of business in recent years leaving their customers with no warranty at all. That’s why we suggest working with a larger manufacturer like Alside.

The Alside Fusion windows come with a lifetime warranty. It covers the frames, the glass, even the seal between the panes of glass.

It does not cover labor for more than 1 year so you’ll want to watch out for that.

If the house is a rental there are other limitations as well. We company get questions about exactly what is covered by the warranty. Your best bet is to just read the warranty itself to see what is covered and what is not.

If you have Alside Fusion windows and you’d like to file a warranty claim you can do that through the Alside website here.

What colors are available for Fusion windows?

Remember, this is a low end window so it only offers low end options. The Fusion windows are only available in white or beige.

Alside Fusion available colors.

If you’re looking for other color options you’ll need to look at the nicer window models, including several from Alside.

Do Alside Fusion windows qualify for federal tax credits?

No. These windows don’t allow for triple pane glass and as a result there is no efficiency package that would qualify for tax credits. If you’re looking for a window that can meet that criteria you’ll want to check out the Alside Mezzo or 8000 Series windows.

What are the 3 common mistakes people make?

The first mistake people make when considering these windows is focusing too much on the price.

We know the price is important, but the windows will be in the house for decades. Buying a cheap window like this is a mistake in my opinion. You’ll have these windows long after you’ve forgotten the price and you’ll be dealing with problems.

The second mistake is buying directly from an installer

Reputable window companies won’t be offering a low-end model like this for an important reason. They don’t want to deal with the problems you’re going to have.

We’d guess the only person selling these windows will be a handyman type or someone who is not a real window specialist. If someone is suggesting these windows you’re getting bad advice, but you’re also potentially getting bad service.

I know your window guy could be a friendly guy who you might not mind having a beer with. The problem is a small outfit like that could well be gone in 5 years and you’ll still have those windows. You’ll be much better off buying from an actual business that is more likely to be around for the long haul.

Find our recommendations for great window companies here.

The third mistake is not focusing on efficiency

These windows are not very energy efficient. The air infiltration rates are high and the glass package options are limited. Efficiency is more important today than it was 10 years ago and it will be more important 10 years from now than it is today. Our advice is to get a better window.

So what’s the verdict?

Basically the Alside Fusion product is designed to be a low cost option. It’s a fine product for a house flipper or a landlord, but that’s about all it’s good for. If you’re living in the house and planning to be around for a while we think you can get a much better bang for your much with an upgraded product.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country. You can find it right here.

The companies listed there will be able to offer higher quality options, often at very similar prices. There’s really no need to deal with a low end product like this and any company suggesting it is probably not a company you want to work with. Find the listings for the best window companies in the country right here.

Alside Mezzo Windows Review

Alside Mezzo windows are designed to be a middle of the road option and they accomplish that goal. In fact, Mezzo means medium in Italian so it seems they were shooting for the middle when designing the Mezzo model.

This newly designed window addresses many of the shortcomings of the (now discontinued) Alside Excalibur window.

Disclaimer: We do occasioanlly offer Alside windows and other higher end windows (almost) nationwide either for you to install yourself or with professional installation. We do it all with no in-home salespeople. Details here

While the Alside Mezzo windows use a newer design than many of their competitors, Alside has been around for quite a while. They’re a large US manufacturer. They have 5 US window manufacturing plants and their products are very widely distributed.

Alside Mezzo double hung windows with slim frames

Advantages to Alside Mezzo windows

  • Slim frames to maximize light
  • Low air infiltration rates for a tight seal
  • Many color options available
  • Lifetime warranty backed by large manufacturer
  • Can qualify for federal tax credit

As you can see in the picture below, the Alside Mezzo windows have a slim frame to maximize the glass area. This is a factor we’ve repeatedly mentioned in our replacement window reviews. This is an important factor that is often overlooked by consumers.

Alside mezzo window reviews
Notice the slim frame of the Alside Mezzo windows.

In comparison, many other replacement windows will use thicker frames. This means the thicker window will provide less glass area in the same opening. That is something that is very important to many window shoppers.

The Alside Mezzo window is designed to be the workhorse of their replacement window line. It will likely become the most popular window they offer.

What are the Mezzo color options?

Like just about all vinyl replacement windows the Alside Mezzo window is custom made. As a result, the range of available options is pretty substantial.

They currently offer 13 exterior colors and 9 interior color options.

All combinations of interior and exterior colors are not available. It’s also important to note that far fewer colors are available in the west coast Mezzo model. You’ll want to talk to your salesperson about the options before you fall in love with an option that doesn’t exist.

They’ve recently added a black exterior option as that has become increasingly popular. The exterior color options do come with an additional cost and they look beautiful.

High quality screens

Alside has always offered a very high quality screen standard with their windows and they’ve continued that with the Mezzo. As you can see below, the screen is made of heavy duty extruded aluminum. In addition, the spline is on the inside to keep it out of the sun. The result is a screen that is more durable and better looking than most.

alside mezzo windows reviews
Alside Mezzo windows come with a heavy duty screen standard.

How about energy efficiency?

The Alside Mezzo window can produce pretty solid ratings for a double hung window. They are in line with other recently designed double pane windows and a solid step above previous generation products. For example, the Alside Mezzo window can meet or exceed the Energy Star guidelines. They can do this  in all regions of the country with double pane glass.

As time has gone on these windows are still available to meet or exceed current energy star most efficient guidelines.

Do Mezzo windows qualify for federal tax credits?

Yes, they can. In order to qualify you’ll need to order windows with the Climatech PriME glass package. While the capitalization they use is ridiculous these packages are very efficient and will qualify for tax credits in most cases.

The PriME packages will be triple pane glass packages and they’re some of the most efficient options on the market. We commonly recommend these packages. We’ve written about the advantages of double pane vs triple pane glass here.

Alside Mezzo windows warranty

Newer vinyl replacement windows tend to come with pretty solid warranties and the Alside Mezzo windows are no exception. The Mezzo lifetime warranty is pretty robust and it is transferable to the next owner.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get a written installation warranty from whoever is installing the windows. Alside, like almost all manufacturers, covers the windows and manufacturing defects. This means they DO NOT cover the installations unless ordered through the manufacturers installation program.

The basics of the Mezzo window are very good. They cover the windows for as long as you own and live in the house. The warranty covers seal failures (the most common warranty issue) along with the frames, the hardware, etc.

If you have Alside Mezzo windows and you’d like to file a warranty claim you can do that here. They’ll want basic info about your windows and your house. in my experience they handle the warranty process pretty well. If you have any trouble with your warranty or the warranty process post a comment below.

If you’re interested in ordering the Mezzo windows online we can help you with that here. We’ll send prices and info by email with no pushy in-home salesman.

Alside Mezzo windows cost

The retail price of Alside Mezzo windows depends on the company that is selling them. Alside distributes these windows through an extremely large network of independent dealers. They will each set their own retail pricing.  Typical costs for windows like this would be in the range of $600-8000 depending on the options and colors chosen. Typical installation for Alside Mezzo windows would run in the range of $200-300.

best replacement windows of 2015

Some companies do try to charge quite a bit more for these products so remember to shop around if you’re unsure. There is really no reason to pay more than $1500-2000 for a typical vinyl replacement window. For example a basic white custom made double hung window with professional installation can typically be found for around $900-1200.

alside mezzo windows reviews and cost
Note the slim frame and the new contemporary locks of the Alside Mezzo windows.

We do hear from readers who have received quotes for quite a bit more. It may surprise you to learn there are companies out there charging pretty ridiculous prices for windows. One easy way to make sure you’re getting a reasonable quote is to talk with our recommended companies. You can also get a window quote review here.

Why you should never buy Alside Mezzo windows?

You’ll find there is always a competitor who will tell you why another other than what he’s selling is horrible. This is true no matter what window mode you’re considering. Here we’ll look a what the competitor will probably say (and why he’s wrong).

First, they may say Alside windows are “builder grade” or “contractor grade” or anything else along those lines. You should know this terminology is completely made up. It’s just fake. Anyone who uses terms like this is just messing with you.

Next, they may say that Mezzo windows use fuzzy pads to achieve good air infiltration rates. This is also nonsense. The Mezzo windows do achieve good air infiltration rates and that’s because they provide a good seal.

Competitors used to use air infiltration rates to justify their high prices and that’s changed a little bit as more and more windows offer better ratings. If you’re hearing this story you’re hearing from a salesperson who is desperate to make his commission.

Finally, you might hear that the Alside window frames are too thin or aren’t strong enough. This is also not really based in reality. Slim frames are generally a feature as they can allow for more glass area than a similar window with a thicker frame.

The guy selling the windows with thick frames needs to tell you something so he’ll usually talk about strength. Remember, you could take all of the windows out of your house and it wouldn’t fall over. The windows aren’t holding up the house.

They need to be strong enough to make sure the windows perform well and they’re tested to meet certain window and rain ratings. The windows all meet or exceed all common ratings so there’s no need to worry about strength, it’s just a distraction.

Problems with the Alside Mezzo windows?

One problem we see is the continued use of the constant force or coil balance system. This is in line with the workhorse nature of this product as it’s not designed to be the very top of the line (mezzo means middle in Italian). The constant force balances are a less expensive option so they do contribute to the competitiveness of the pricing. At the end of the day it’s not the option we would typically pick.

It’s clear they were not trying to make a top of the line product when designing the Mezzo window. That’s ok because many people want a product that is good, but not too expensive. The Mezzo window can fit that bill.

In addition, Alside has had a reputation for questionable quality control at times. Some of this talk is driven by competitors or those companies that offer competing products, but some of it is real. Alside tells us they have invested in new manufacturing equipment for the new Alside Mezzo windows so only time will tell if these past issues have been corrected.

What’s the biggest problem?

The biggest problem with Alside windows is the fact that they sell them through any “contractor” who wants to sell them. Other manufacturers are more discriminating, only selling to reputable and well established companies. Alside windows are sold by almost anyone which means the friendly guy offering these windows might not really know what he’s doing.

We see customers having problems with Mezzo windows that aren’t really window problems at all. They’re installation problems, and sometimes the customer doesn’t even know it.

If you’re considering buying windows from a handyman or a jack of all trades type of operation you might want to reconsider. Buying windows from a company that specializes in windows will be a much better solution.

Luckily, we have a listing of our recommended window companies all over the country right here.

Disclosure: Our company has never offered Alside windows in the past. With the release of the Mezzo window we now occasionally offer this Alside product under a new program we have recently started. We also offer upgraded products that will be a better value in most cases.

Find detailed reviews on more Alside window options here.

Remember, for more great window company info you can find our suggestions for the best local companies in your area right here.

The Best Replacement Window Company in Buffalo, NY – Window Universe!

If you’re looking for the very best replacement windows in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding area you’re in luck!  My company, Window Universe, is offering windows in the Buffalo area 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.

Replacement windows Buffalo, NY

In the Buffalo 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 Buffalo.

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.

If you’d like more info you can check out our website at for more info about what we’re up to.

How does this work?

Good question.  We’ve tried to design the absolute easiest way to get new windows.  Here’s how it works:

  1. You fill out the form on this page to request a quote
  2. We’ll send you a detailed and itemized quote for your window project
  3. You can ask any questions and we can make any revisions as necessary
  4. When we have the order the way you want it we have the windows custom measured, manufactured and expertly installed.

It’s so easy you won’t believe people still order windows the old fashioned way.

You can even order custom windows without installation to install yourself.

I want to see how this works!

Great, we want to hear from you.  Fill out the form here and we’ll be in touch with more info about the products and services that we offer in Buffalo.  You’re not going to believe how easy this is.

Itemized Price List Request Form

Not in Buffalo?  We can still help you find a great company to work with.  Find our directly of the best window companies all over the country right here.

Simonton Reflections 5050 Review

As we go through our Simonton Reflections 5050 review remember one thing: When some people say that they don’t want vinyl windows in their house because they look cheap, this is the type of window they’re thinking of.  It looks cheap.

Most manufacturers offer a “low end” option and this is the offering from Simonton.  It leaves quite a bit to be desired.  The actual wholesale cost difference between this model and a much nicer option is only $10-$20 per window.

best replacement windows of 2015

What are we talking about specifically?

Take a look here at the thickness of the frame and sash.  As you can see in the picture the distance from the outside of the frame to the glass is about 3.75″ .  This is pretty thick, especially for a model with pretty weak efficiency ratings.

Simonton Reflections 5050 review
As you can see here, the frame and sash on the Simonton Reflections 5050 are very thick which reduces the glass area of the window.

To get an idea of how this will look in your home, you can measure your existing windows.  If the distance from the interior stop to the glass is currently less than 3.75″ you will likely lose glass area with this model.  That might be an acceptable trade off if there were fantastic energy savings to be had, but with this model there won’t be.

Another drawback to this model is the lack of balance covers.  If you’re not an expert in the bits and pieces of a window, a balance cover is a small piece of vinyl that snaps into the side of the frame to cover the window balance.  It’s just a small strip, probably costs less than $0.10 to produce, but they’ve left it out of this model.

simonton 5050 review
Notice how this window does not come with balance covers. Is this a small thing, absolutely which is why it’s absence is a sign of a cheap window.

Without the balance cover you’re left with a channel in the frame where dust and debris will settle over time.  It’s tough to clean out and it looks unfinished when compared with other window models.

The last component we’ll look at in this Simonton Reflections 5050 review is the screen.  As you can see in the picture below the spline (the rubber strip that holds the screen material in the frame) is on the outside of the window.  This is a common trait among lower end products and it leads to maintenance down the road.

Simonton 5050 screen review
Here you can see the spline on the outside of the screen frame. This exposes the spline to the sun which can cause it to dry out and fail.

When this spline is on the outside of the screen frame it is exposed to the sun.  This can cause the rubber material to dry out after several summers causing your screen to fail.  Nobody wants to be dealing with loose screens.

I could go on an on about drawbacks to this model, but hopefully you have the idea by now.

What’s the bottom line?

This is a low end product from a well respected manufacturer.  Simonton makes fine products, but this isn’t one of them.  It looks and feels cheap and I strongly recommend looking at other options.

I’m am absolutely not a window snob.  There are plenty of inexpensive options that will work great for you.  Just not this model.

The much nicer Simonton Prism 5500 window only costs $10-$20 more and it’s a much better mid-range option.

To sum up this Simonton Reflections 5050 review: Keep shopping.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it 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.

We’ve also added a new post on Home Depot window complaints and you can find that here.

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.

 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 check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

Simonton Reflections 5500 Review

The Simonton Reflections 5500 is at the higher end of the Simonton replacement windows.  This model is distributed nationwide with several variations offered under various brand names including Prism or Prism Platinum.

Overall, as we’ve said before, Simonton makes a fine product, but this model is getting a little long in the tooth.  It utilizes some older design elements and offers less than outstanding performance numbers.

best replacement windows of 2015

What are the drawbacks of Simonton 5500 windows?

The biggest drawback for me is the thickness of the vinyl.  You certainly get less glass area with the Simonton Reflections 5500 than you would with some competing products.  For example, in the NFRC sticker below you can see the window with a U-Factor of 0.29 a SHGC of 0.24 and a rather low visible transmittance rating of 0.45.

Simonton Reflections 5500 window ratings
Simonton Reflections 5500 window ratings

This window would block out too much light for my taste.  There are other models that can achieve very similar ratings with a thinner vinyl frame resulting in more visible light and a higher VT rating.

As with most windows there are several glass options that can certainly affect the numbers, but the thick frame is here to stay.

What about the window hardware?

The Simonton Reflections 5500 also uses the inexpensive constant force balance mechanism which have several drawbacks.  They also charge extra for features that many companies offer standard such as double strength glass, balance covers and heavy duty screens.

Here you can see a Simonton Reflections 5500 window with the constant force balance and no balance cover.

simonton reflections 5500
See this Simonton Reflections 5500 window with inexpensive constant force balance and no balance covers.

The last picture I’ll show you for now is of the sash stops this model utilizes.  This block at the top of the frame prevents the sash from opening all the way.  It’s not a very big deal on a large window and Simonton does a good job of making it as small as they can.  On smaller windows you won’t be able to open the window as far as you’d expect.  Why do they put it there?  They have to because of the cheap constant force balance mechanism used in the jambs.

simonton 5500 window review
See the sash stop that prevents the bottom sash from sliding all the way to the top.

You might ask yourself if this balance mechanism or the lack of a balance cover or the sash stops are a huge deal and the answer is probably no.  I mention them here to illustrate the idea that perhaps this product doesn’t represent a fantastic bang for your buck.

There are many old and outdated design elements in this product that just aren’t necessary anymore.  The price of a Simonton Reflections 5500 window doesn’t typically reflect the fact that it’s a bit old fashioned.

Is this window offered under different brand names?

As you’re considering your options remember that manufacturers will often offer the same or VERY similar products under many brand names.  They do this to help contractors selling the products avoid competing directly on price.  If you get 2 quotes from 2 companies offering the exact same product then the price becomes a relatively important point of differentiation.  However, if one of the companies can tell you all about why their product is “better” then perhaps the price will become less of a factor.

If you think this is a little strange, you’re right, but it happens in every industry from mattresses to bowling balls.

To sum up this Simonton Reflections 5500 window review I’d say overall it’s a fine product from a reputable manufacturer (despite my nitpicking), but you can usually do better for a lower price.

Keep looking.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

Andersen 400 Series Window Review

Here we’ll look at the Andersen 400 series windows.  These are windows we installed for a good friend of mine.  He picked them out and was sure that these were the windows for him.  Shortly after they were installed he painted them himself and they sure do look pretty.  When writing this review of Andersen 400 series windows I will be including pictures, pricing information and specific details.

What are the advantages of Andersen 400 Series windows?

For starters the Andersen 400 series windows look great.  They look like nice wood windows.  Once they’re painted to match the interior trim they certainly do look like part of the house rather than something that was installed after the house was built (you can just ignore the interesting paint colors that were picked on this project).

Next, another positive attribute of the Andersen 400 series is the tilt latch mechanisms.  The sashes tilt in for easy cleaning like many new windows do these days.  The way they operate is a little unique.  Andersen has skipped the typical tilt latches on the meeting rail and opted for nearly invisible plastic clips that release the sash.  This is a design that is also seen on other Andersen windows and it is very effective.

Andersen 400 series review
This is the mechanism that releases the sash on these Andersen 400 series windows

As you can see in the picture, all you do is slide the plastic clips down to the top of the sash and pull it in.  This is a neat feature of the Andersen 400 series tilt-wash double hung model.  You don’t find this mechanism from any other manufacturers.

What about the top sash?

The top sash, shown above, is even easier.  It has the more traditional tilt latch mechanism on the top of the top sash.  They do it this way because these latches are invisible when the window is closed.

These mechanisms give the window the ability to tilt in while maintaining the traditional look of a wood window.  Perhaps it’s a small detail, but it does make the window look great and operate well.

The exterior of this Andersen 400 series window is vinyl clad and the exterior trim has been capped as you can see here.  This leaves the exterior completely finished and maintenance free.  Some folks prefer the look of wood brickmould or exterior trim and that would be an option, but it would then require painting.  This homeowner wanted to go maintenance free and he achieved his desired result.

What are the downsides?

After living with these windows for a while some less than positive attributes of the Andersen 400 series have come into focus as well.  For example, it’s clear that the owner ordered these windows unfinished and painted them himself.  That means you can see areas where he was not able to get the brush.  To get it perfectly finished he’ll need to go back and repaint all of these windows to get them looking great and that’s a chore.

Next, you can see the interior grids on these windows.  They are flimsy and they bend when you try to pull down the top sash.  We opened the windows from the top to get a picture of the tilt latch and we almost broke one.  There is no other way to lower the top sash which means at least some will likely break in the future.  This design alone is a serious shortcoming.

Last and certainly not least, these windows are drafty!  When I was sitting on the couch during a winter storm sorting through the pictures to make sure I had everything I needed.  I could feel cold air on the back of my neck coming from the window behind me.  I pulled up the air infiltration ratings for this model and they say it’s <0.30.  We know from the previous post on air infiltration ratings that this is pretty weak.

To sum it all up: this is a nice looking window.  The specifics of the windows installed in this house are just details.  For example the flimsy looking interior only grids are an option and you could order another type.

What about the air infiltration of Andersen 400 series windows?

The air infiltration on the other hand is a real problem.  These windows are drafty and there is no way to change that.  You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for new windows to have a cold family and these windows just don’t provide a good seal.  After observing these windows for a few months I can’t recommend them.  Our good friend will be replacing these relatively new wood windows with another model that gets a much tighter seal.

The Andersen 400 series windows look great, but they do not seal well.  If your goal was to look pretty with no concern for anything else then go for it.  Most folks want a balance of beauty and efficiency.  This window does not accomplish that goal.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

Other Andersen window posts you might find helpful:

How can you find a great window company?

That part is easy.  Check this section for recommendations of window companies all over the country. There’s no better way to get new windows.

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.  

Other posts you might find helpful:

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 check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

Marvin Infinity Reviews

As we get started on our Marvin Infinity reviews it’s important to keep in mind that this is a fiberglass replacement window.  It’s a bit of a different animal than either vinyl replacement windows or wood windows.  Fiberglass windows are designed to replicate the look of a wood window with increased durability.

While we’ll be writing another post soon on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of window construction it’s important to note that many wood replacement windows offer warranties as good or better than what you’ll get with a fiberglass product.  With fiberglass replacement windows you’re paying a premium over the cost of a vinyl window to get the look of wood.  It would be worthwhile to compare the cost difference between fiberglass and real wood.   The price difference is often very small.

Back to the Marvin Infinity review.  First of all this a great looking window.  It looks very solid, comes in a wide range of colors and offers a substantial amount of style options.

marvin infinity window
Here is a very nice looking Marvin Infinity replacement window

As you can see in the above picture the Marvin Infinity window does a great job of looking like a traditional wood window.

Marvin Infinity windows are often ordered with simulated divided lites or SDL grids.  This means the grids are on the outside of the glass which is consistent with the look of a wood window.

Marvin infinity windows cost
SDL grids on a Marvin Infinity window.

You can see the joint between the grid and the sash frame is pretty tight and very clean looking.  If you get up this close to it, you can tell that it is a separate piece, but nobody is going to go around you house inspecting things like this.  If they are you probably don’t want to invite them over anyway!

Notice the hardware in the picture below.  There are MANY options and they have a very nice classic look.

marvin infinity window hardware
Marvin Infinity window hardware provides a classic look.

One last design element to point out is the lack of typical tilt-latches.  As you can see in this picture, the Marvin Infinity window skips the typical told latches for a very clean and elegant look.

Marvin Infinity window cost and price and pricing
Marvin Infinity windows without the typical tilt latch on the sash.

How about efficiency?

The NFRC ratings for the Marvin Infinity window are pretty solid, but not particularly spectacular.  This makes sense as the product was clearly designed to be pretty rather than the most efficient window on the block.

marvin infinity windows u-factor ratings
martin infinity u-factor and nfrc ratings

You can see in this NFRC sticker showing the Marvin Infinity U-Factor that the ratings for this window are solid, but not remarkable.  You’re paying a premium to get this fiberglass window vs a vinyl window, but you’re not getting any real improvement in efficiency.

There are MANY options that affect the ratings so this certainly isn’t the only option, but the Marvin Infinity window will only ever be average in terms of efficiency ratings.  It will never be a top performer no matter how you order it.

In addition you do get a pretty high air infiltration rating with this window.  That means it does not provide a particularly great seal in windy conditions.  This is more of a concern for some folks than others, but if you’re in a relatively high wind area or if you’re particularly concerned about a tight seal, the Infinity window might not be for you.

Marvin Infinity Warranty?

Unfortunately the Marvin Infinity warranty leaves much to be desired.  They say it has a “lifetime” warranty, but it sure does have a lot of limitations and exclusions.

Breakdown of the Infinity window warranty:

  • Insulated glass seal – 20 years NOT lifetime
  • Accidental glass breakage – NOT COVERED
  • Ultrex fiberglass – Lifetime until transferred, then 10 years
  • Ultrex fiberglass finish – 10 years NOT lifetime
  • Non-glass components (screens, hardware etc)- 10 years NOT lifetime

See the Marvin Infinity warranty on Marvin’s website or download the Marvin Infinity warranty here.

As you can see the Marvin Infinity warranty isn’t nearly as thorough as you might expect for a window sold at this price point.

How about the Marvin Infinity window cost?

The cost for Marvin Infinity windows can vary dramatically.  There are MANY options that have a huge impact on the price so it’s difficult to even give a range.  For example a basic double hung window without installation might start at about $500 and a fancy window with several expensive options could easily top $1000.

If you’ve decided to go with the Marvin Infinity windows the easiest way to get a great price is to shop around.  Find out who are the Marvin Infinity dealers in your area and get quotes for the same products.  There will likely not be too many local dealers as Marvin limits the distribution to avoid price shopping, but you can always call someone out of town too.  A reputable company should be able to send you a quote and a little shopping can go a long way to lowering the price.

To sum up this Marvin Infinity windows review I’d say it’s important to remember that these windows are pretty, but they command a premium price and they offer a very limited warranty.

You’re paying more for this product than you would be for a vinyl window.  That doesn’t mean this product is any better, but it sure does look nice.

You may be better off with a wood window with a longer warranty than this fiberglass product.  You’re paying the premium for the looks rather than for the efficiency and the look is still that of a simulated wood window.  A real wood window would look even better and based on the warranty it should last longer as well.

Take a look through several more reviews on wood, fiberglass, composite and vinyl replacement windows here.

What if I have more questions about Marvin Infinity or Essential windows?

We can help!  Find our Marvin Essential windows FAQ page here.  If you don’t see the answer to your question post a comment and we’ll answer your question for everyone to see.

Looking for any additional information on Marvin windows that you’re not finding here?  Post a comment and let us know.  We’ll be glad to help out!

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here. 

Okna 500 Reviews

The Okna 500 Series aka the Insul-Tec is the most popular model from Okna Windows.  It is certainly a next generation product that provides some features not found on older designs.  The Okna 500 is available in a range of options that allow for very solid energy efficiency ratings.  This model is built with a relatively slim frame which allows for good visible transmittance numbers as well.

okna 500 reviews
This is the optional auto-lock that locks when the window is closed.

It’s important to remember that certain features that may be on a sample window are options so you should be sure they are included if you want them.  Examples of these options are the auto-lock (shown above) and the foam insulated frames (shown below)

okna windows foam filled frames
The foam filled frames are a popular option to increase efficiency.

Two standard features that are certainly part of the next generation design are the fully welded sloped sill which drains water to the outside rather than through the frame and the mortised sill dam which provides for a very tight seal.  Okna windows consistently offer excellent ratings and these features contribute to that result.

Okna 500 air infiltration
See the mortised sill dam on the Okna 500 window. This feature allows for a very tight seal.

One aspect of this design that we’re not huge fans of is the exterior of the frame.  The design has a lot of details and shape which is supposed to look fancy, but we just find it busy.  It fits with the look of some homes, but not all and at the end of the day we’d prefer a window blend in with the home rather than standout.

okna 500 ratings and reviews
Notice all of the fancy designs on the exterior of the frame. For us this is just too busy.

What should an Okna 500 cost?

I used to have a range of price estimates for Okna 500 windows with installation listed here and I discovered that I was frustrating about as many readers as I was helping.  A friend of mine is an Okna dealer in Milwaukee and after learning more about his business I understood why.  There can be a lot of variation in the final price due to a number of factors.  Your best bet is to find a great local company and talk through the options with them.

You can be sure that a basic Okna 500 window installation should be substantially less than the $1,200 to $1,500 per window prices that we sometimes see folks post about.  This is a nice mid-range window that should work well for many people.

Remember, there are MANY factors that contribute to the overall cost of your project.  I would encourage you not to get a price in your head before you call a local company.  The best strategy is to get a few quotes from reputable local companies and see how they compare.  Some companies may try to charge more than others, so if you’re not comfortable with a quote you’ve received just get another quote.

Here’s a post I wrote on understanding window pricing. This is a fine window, but there are lots of fine windows out there.  Don’t feel like you need to work with a company just to get a certain product.

If you’re unsure about the window prices that you’ve received just post a comment and we’ll do our best to help you sort through it.

What’s the bottom line?

Overall the 500 Series windows from Okna are an updated design with solid performance numbers and a legion of devoted fans.  The model is the most popular product from Okna Windows and we can see why.

Other than the basic concerns about Okna Windows as a manufacturer the product performs well compared with most of it’s peers.  When comparing this model to options from other manufacturers make sure you’re comparing relatively new designs.  Older designs from generally well regarded companies (like Simonton for example) just don’t compare.

Find additional reviews on more Okna window models along with several competing options here.

If you’re looking for a window company right now, the best advice we have is to check out our list of the best window companies all over the country.  You can find it right here.