Buy 2 Get 1 Free Replacement Window Sale!

We see ads like this running all over the country.  Sometimes it’s a buy 2 get 1, sometimes it’s buy 3 get 1 or even buy 5 get 1.  Maybe some discount levels seem more plausible to folks which is why they would vary the amount.  While that would be an interesting psychology experiment, it’s a silly way to shop for replacement windows.

If you remember anything from this site, remember that nothing in the window business changes every day or every week or every month.  If the company charges prices that are high enough to allow them to run a buy 2 get 1 free sale then they were charging people way too much before that sale started.  Do you want to work with a company that charges folks way more than they need to?  I hope not.

Ads like this are designed to instill a sense of urgency.  To reinforce the idea that you’d better buy now or you’ll miss the boat on this great deal.  We know you’ll see ads like this for shoes or pizzas, but replacement windows are a different animal.  Notice the great pizza ad at the top of the page, makes me hungry.

Consider that you’ll buy windows for your home once.  They’ll likely last 30 years or more and the typical contract price will be $7,000 or so.  That makes windows different than a pizza.  The proprietor of the local pizza shop may offer a real sale that will eat into his profits on the order because he knows you’ll be impressed with his work and you’ll come back for more.

If the window company does a great job your windows will be done and you won’t be coming back for any more.  Sure you may tell your friends or you may order something else in the future, but if you do you’ll just tell them about the great sale and they’ll never buy at full price.

Here’s how this really works.  Many window companies will operate on hugely inflated starting prices.  They call these list prices.  For a typical vinyl window they’ll tell you the list price is around $1,200 – $1,500.  Then when they come to give you your quote they’ll say, “sure if you buy 2 at list price you get one free.”

We’ll do the math for you.  That’s 2 windows at $1,200 each so $2,400 and they’ll give you another free.  They’ll be installing 3 windows for $2,400 or $800 per window.  That’s a horrible deal.

All of the sudden your fantastic savings has turned into a pretty bad deal, but they’re not done.  You’ll soon hear about their appointment saver discounts or time management discounts which are designed to push you into signing up on the spot.  Now if you don’t buy today you’ll lose the appointment saver discount and the buy 2 get 1 free sale ends tomorrow.  You wouldn’t want to let those savings get away would you?

C’mon, this is one of the silliest tricks in the book, but companies use it every day.  We know, you’re probably saying. “oh I would never fall for that”.  We know, everyone says that, but these companies do millions of dollars in business every year.  Someone is falling for it every single day.  Don’t let it be you!

You can find more info on replacement window sales scams and our in-depth reviews of replacement windows here.

If you have a copy of an ad showing a discount like this we’d appreciate it if you can send it over.  We’ll be posting them as example for folks.

Have fun!

Time Management Discounts

We have to say this is one of the silliest names for a sales tactic we’ve ever heard.  About a month ago our company participated in a home and garden show in Richmond, VA.  After the shows we typically have around 100 appointments with potential customers looking for quotes to replace their windows or doors.

Interestingly, all of the folks who come to a show to get info on windows end up getting quotes from a few companies who were at the show so we end up competing with the same companies over and over again for about two weeks.

As is typical we found about 90% of the folks we met with ended up working with us, but with these customers we heard a new one.  we repeatedly had folks asking us if we had a time management discount.  We’d never heard that one before, but it turns out it’s another way to phrase the old “appointment saver” discount.

Remember that companies will always be looking for a reasonable sounding way to convince you to sign up on the spot without comparing their options.  Companies that operate this way know full well that they’re not offering a great deal relative to their competitors.  If they said, “please buy from me without exploring your options because I need to pay my bills and if you shop around you’ll figure out this is a bad deal and you won’t give me your money. If you do that I won’t make any money, so please just buy from me right now without thinking it over.”

Of course, that’s not a convincing sales pitch, so they justify in any way they can.  In this case they’re telling folks that if they need to meet with you to give you a quote, then meet with you again later to sign up the paperwork they’ll lose a lot of money by making two visits.  Of course this explains the very practical reason they need to offer a time management discount.  Ha!

The business person in me would quickly respond with all sorts of info about bottle necks and constraints, but the simplest answer is this is just a bunch of junk.  They have plenty of time in the day to meet with you.

If you hear about time management discounts, do your self a favor and cancel the appointment.  If you area  gluten for punishment go ahead with it and post your experiences here.

In the meantime you can find more info on tricky sales tactics here and you can find our thoughts on using Angie’s List to find a more reputable local contractor.

Have fun!

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.

All Window Warranties are NOT Created Equal

It’s easy for folks to hear salesperson after salesperson say their windows have a “lifetime” warranty.  You can get used to hearing it and you might start to think that they’re all the same.

best replacement windows of 2015

On the other hand, companies that offer more limited warranties will try to explain why a shorter warranty is better.  They’ll say that a lifetime warranty is actually only good for a few years (which is not true and they probably know it).  Why would they do this?  Because nobody would buy their products if they couldn’t explain why the warranty was so short.  Renewal by Andersen is a great example of this one.

Renewal by Andersen Limited Warranty
Here you can see the very short warranty offered by Renewal by Andersen. Why would they offer a warranty this short?

This is a 2 year warranty on installation, 10 years on the oh so fancy Fibrex frames.  That is a REALLY short warranty.

Update: Renewal by Andersen has since updated their warranty and it’s now 20 years on the frames.  Perhaps they took our advice!  It’s still shorter than what you’d get from a lot of other companies, but 20 years is a pretty long time.  

We also hear from customers that they don’t want to depend on a warranty so they want to pick a quality product that they think will hold up.  Of course picking a quality product is a great strategy, but in discounting the warranty they’re ignoring a crucial data point indicating the quality and anticipated lifespan of the product.

Here’s the deal.  Brochures and flyers are written by salespeople.  Warranties are written by lawyers and engineers.  There’s a big difference.

The warranty on any window or door product is a direct indication of how long the manufacturer actually expects the product to hold up.  If they offer a long and comprehensive warranty they’re telling you they are confident that the windows will last.  If they offer a shorter or more limited warranty they are directly saying that they think the product may fail after that point.

Think about it this way:  a shorter warranty will absolutely result in fewer sales.  The manufacturer knows that some percentage of their potential customers will thoroughly read the warranty and if it isn’t as good as their competitor the customer will buy elsewhere.  Why then would one company offer a warranty that is more limited than their competitor?  Remember, they know doing this will result in lower sales.  They do it because they have to.  They do it because they know that some percentage of their products will fail after those limitations run out and they don’t want to be on the hook for the repairs.

So what are the differences between different window warranties?

You’ve probably seen that most decent replacement windows offer some type of “lifetime” warranty.  That’s absolutely true, but as with most things, the difference is in the details.  When it comes to warranties the differences can be huge.

Here are 5 common differences:

Labor coverage – You’ll see a lot of “lifetime” warranties, but when you actually read them the labor is only covered for a limited period.

There are also 2 types of labor to consider.  There is the labor of the installer who did the initial work, and then there’s the labor of the service technician who comes out to replace a defective part.  Are they both covered?  Is one limited to 1 year or even completely excluded?  They may be.  If the service labor is limited who is going to repair a broken window or replace a damaged balance?  How much will it cost?

Remember the Renewal by Andersen example above.  2 years of warranty on installation.  Many companies cover these items for as long as you own the home.  That’s a BIG difference.

Glass breakage coverage – Do you know how much it can cost to replace an insulated glass unit?  Remember, these aren’t the old single pane windows you might have had growing up.  A new sealed glass unit can easily run $100 – $200 for a typical replacement window and the labor can double the total cost.  We recently got a quote to repair a broken window from a local competitor to make sure we knew what the competition was charging.  It was over $400 for one piece of glass in a typical double pane window.  That’s real money.

Here is a clip from the Simonton Prism window warranty.  You can see the insulated glass warranty is prorated overtime, but the glass breakage warranty is solid for 25 years.

Simonton Prism Window Warranty
This is the warranty for the Simonton Prism line. Their other lines have different warranties so be sure you know what you’re getting.

Some companies offer a glass breakage warranty to everyone they do business with.  Some offer it at an additional cost and others don’t offer it at all.  When you’re considering a window project it’s important to know what you’re getting.

When you hear that baseball go through the window you’ll be glad you know what you picked!

Hardware & moving parts – As you get a few quotes and look at window samples you’ll quickly see that there are hundreds of choices and they all use slightly different bits and pieces.  That’s not a problem, except when you need a new lock 10 years down the road.  How will you get one that matches the rest of the windows in your home?

Some companies cover the hardware, balances and all moving parts for as long as you own the home and some limit that coverage to just a few years.  This is an important distinction.

Screen coverage – We frequently see warranties that exclude screens.  Screens aren’t expensive, but the frames tend to be proprietary so you may have trouble getting a replacement down the road.

Screens are really easy to fix or replace so any company interested in taking care of their customers after the sale will have no problem covering screens.  A company that excludes screens is telling you that they don’t want to hear from you once your check clears.

Coastal coverage – This one can be important.  We recently read a window warranty from Ideal Windows that defined coastal as being within 1 mile of any tidal body of water.  Right now I’m easily a 2 hour drive from the beach, but I’m less than a mile from a tidal river.  I grew up in Chicago, less than a mile from Lake Michigan, which has tides.  Both of these locations would be considered coastal under that definition and as a result the warranty would be extremely limited.

Ideal Windows Warranty
This is a clip from the Ideal Windows warranty. Is your home “coastal” under this definition? It might be.

I can guarantee you my family in Chicago doesn’t consider their home to be near the coast.  Someone in that position might skip right over a section on coastal coverage and they would be out of luck if they have a problem down the road.  Maybe I like reading these because I have several lawyers in my family, but the devil is in the details.

As you can see from these basic examples (we could go on all day) there are HUGE differences in the warranties of replacement windows.  We know it is REALLY dull to read the fine print of a window warranty.  It only takes a few minutes and we can guarantee you it will be time well spent.

If you remember any one thing remember that a more limited warranty results in lower sales.  Why would a company offer a warranty that results in lower sales?  Because they have to.  Because they know their products won’t stand the test of time.

This is a HUGE data point and you’ll be remiss to overlook it.

Have a question about a specific window warranty?  Post it here and we’ll dig into the details.  We really do love this stuff.

The Appointment Saver Discount & Other Remodeling Scams

You signed up for a free in-home quote for a remodeling project and as things are wrapping up the salesperson hits you with a “special” discount if you would just sign on the dotted line right now.

You remember very clearly that they told you the prices would be guaranteed for a year, but all of the sudden the high price is good for a year and the lower price is going to expire when she walks out the door.  What’s the deal with that?

best replacement windows of 2015

If you remember noting else, remember that this type of pricing scheme is a sure sign that you’re getting a bad deal.

Think about it this way: this salesperson does this for a living and she knows much more about the pricing than you do.  If she was sure that what she was offering was such a great deal then she would be confident that you could think it over and you would certainly call her back to get this great deal.  Why would she come up with a strategy to get you to sign up without considering your options?  Because she knows it’s not a good deal.

Of course she can’t tell you it’s not a good deal because she gets paid commission and that would be a bad strategy.  So what does she do?  She comes up with a way to justify this short term discount.

The appointment saver discount is nothing more than a justification for manipulative pricing.  She will tell you that if you buy now while she’s already there it will save her the trip back to sign paperwork later.  She’ll tell you all of her customers call her back because she’s got the best deal in town and she ends up visiting everyone twice.

She might tell you that her accountant told her that if she could only visit each customer one time it would allow her to meet with twice as many people which would double the size of her business.  It would be worth offering a substantial discount to double the size of her business right?  Wrong.

This is a complete bunch of junk, but believe us when we tell you there are companies out there telling this story to unsuspecting homeowners all across the country tonight.

Remember when you’re hearing all of this that they explain these stories for a living.  She does this every day so she’s probably pretty good at it.  She’ll have an answer for everything and she’ll sound reasonable.  That’s her job.

If you tell her you’ll fax the paperwork after you think it over she’ll say she needs the originals.

If you tell her you’ll mail the originals in a week or two when you’re ready she’ll say the rebate ends today.

If you tell her you’ll drop the forms off at her office she’ll tell you they need your order today to meet their quota.  Next week will be too late.  Of course she may not have an office, but that’s a story for another day.

As you’re hearing all of this remember that nothing in the window business changes on a daily basis.  The ONLY reason they create pricing schemes like this is to separate you from your money.

Do you really think that if you call her up next month and tell her you want to go ahead with the project she will tell you tough luck?  Of course she won’t.  She’ll probably be pretty surprised as nobody ever calls her back, but you won’t either after you get a few more quotes.

We know getting quotes for remodeling projects can be a hassle and you may just want to be done with the process.  We have seen folks pay $5,000 – $10,000 more for a project than they needed to because the salesperson told them they needed to sign up right now to get a great deal.

Everyone says, “oh, I’d never fall for that”, but these companies do millions of dollars per year in business.  Someone does fall for it each and every day.

If you hear about an appointment saver discount, or a manufactures rebate, or a quota, or a managers special, just thank them for their time and call the next company on your list.

You may want to check out Angie’s List to get an idea of which companies will treat you fairly.  We know it costs a few dollars, but you’ll probably find coupons on the site that will more than offset the membership cost and the savings in headaches will be worth much more than a 2-year membership.   You can find our thoughts on Angie’s List from a contractors perspective 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.

Does a magnetic seal on a window make any difference?

Here’s a question we’ve been asked quite a bit lately:  are magnatic seal windows any better than other windows?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: No, but you don’t have to take our word for it.  Anytime you’re trying to evaluate any feature that relates to energy efficiency you don’t need to take anyone’s word for it.

Everything related to the efficiency of a window is measured.  You can compare the differences between models to see if any specific features makes any worthwhile difference.  If the rating is better the window is more efficient.  If it’s not better then it’s not more efficient.  That’s all there is too it.  Even if a feature seems like it “should” be better, if the rating is not better than the window is not more efficient.

If you find a rating does get better when you add a specific feature, the next step is to determine if it’s enough of a difference to make a decision in your purchase.

For example, the Okna 800 windows have a magnetic seal and the Okna 500 windows do not.  If this feature made a difference you’d be able to see it in the air infiltration rating.  What’s the difference in air infiltration between the two?  0.01 cfm/sqft.  That’s not very much, especially when you consider 0.30 or better is the top tier according to AAMA.

magnetic seal windows
Magnetic seals on windows typically don’t make any difference in terms of the efficiency of the window. They’re included as sales pitch and we encourage you to avoid these windows.

Is that difference entirely caused by the magnetic seal?  No, there are other differences between the two models.

Is that difference enough to warrant the extra cost?  Only you can decide, but I sure don’t think so.

Why then do some windows now come with magnetic seals?  Because it sounds attractive.  The salesperson can tell you that your fridge has a magnetic seal and that sure seals well.  Of course your fridge isn’t subjected to any winds, but he leaves that part out.

We ALWAYS recommend avoiding any product with features that are only included to be part of a sales pitch.  It should make you wonder how much of the rest of the story the salesperson told you is worthless.

For more information on various window options take a look through the best replacement windows reviews on the internet and find more info on window sales scams.  We hope this info helps as you’re thinking about new windows!

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 Model Home Windows Program & Other Window Scams

The model home windows program is one of our favorite window sales scams. If you’ve ever seen the movie Tin Men with Danny DeVito and Richard Dryfus you know this one.  The fact that this trick is still frequently used has always surprised me.  As is the case with all of these window maneuvers they wouldn’t still exist if people didn’t buy them so watch out!

best replacement windows of 2015

The basics of this maneuver come back to the idea that if a company wants to sell you something at a price above the market price they need a way to entice you to make an irrational decision.  The irrational decision in this case is to pay more for something than you need to.

Now remember, paying more than you need to doesn’t refer to a comparison with the absolute cheapest company in town.  When you buy a remodeling project you’re buying the quality of the products, the quality of the service the strength of the warranty, etc.  All of these things have value and they’re all worth something.  When we say these companies are trying to entice you to pay more than you need to we mean after factoring all of these components into it, they’re still charging more than their competitors.

How can I be sure these companies are trying to charge you more than their competitors would?

Because it’s not my first day in this business…and also because they’re lying to you.

Remember we started this post talking about the model home discount.  This is when a company offers to sell you their products and services for an incredibly low price so they can use your house as an example of the great work they do.  They’re expecting all of your neighbors to see how great your house looks and they’re expecting to sell your neighbors windows too.

This sounds like a real win-win situation.  You get great new windows.  You know they’re going to do a great job because they want to show off their work at your home.  They’re only offering this deal to one house in the neighborhood so you’d better sign up now to take advantage right?  NO.  This is never a good deal.

In reality they’re telling you this because it’s a good story.  They need to get past the universal human tendency to be cautious.  You see we evolved over millions of years to be leery of risky situations.  This is how we as humans survived all these years.  Now they want you to sign a contract and fork over thousands of your hard earned dollars without so much as a google search?  Forget about it.  You’ll never do it….unless it’s a really fantastic deal.

You see these companies know that another universal human tendency is to LOVE a great deal and to HATE missing a great deal.  You love telling your friends about that great shirt you found at TJ Maxx or the steal of a deal you found on the clearance rack, right?  How did I know that?  Because everyone loves that.  It’s human nature.  In this case the remodeling company is attempting to use one tendency to overcome the other.

“I wouldn’t fall for that” you’re probably saying.  I know, of course you wouldn’t.  Nobody in their right mind would over pay for some sales scam.  Surprisingly these companies do millions of dollars in business each and every year.  People are going for it every day.  Nobody every buys something because they think it’s a bad deal.  These companies do a great job explaining it and you ‘re left thinking you got the deal of the century.  My what a great consumer you are!

Just remember, a model home discount is NEVER a good deal.  The price offered today will still be good tomorrow or the next day or the week after that.  If you compare your options and decide that you liked that first company then go for it, but don’t let them talk you into signing up on the spot.  You should also remember that if they take the deal next week (as I guarantee they will) then they’re telling you that all that talk about model homes was a lie.  Do you really want to work with a company that started out by lying to you?

I wouldn’t recommend it.

In extreme cases we’ve even heard these companies telling you to keep the prices secret so your neighbors don’t know what a great deal you got.  You know the real reason they want you to keep the price a secret?  Because your neighbor got the same price as you or maybe even better.

The big takeaway?  As soon as you hear a company tell you that you’re getting a great price because they want to use your home as a model for the neighborhood just picture Danny Vevito and Richard Dryfus in your front yard yelling about putting your home in Better Homes and Gardens as the “before” house.  Don’t be that sucker.


1 Year, 30 Day and TODAY ONLY Window Prices

If you’ve received a free quote from some of the larger window companies around you may have seen today only window prices like this.  They probably had some very high price say $13,000 that was good for a year.  This might be called the retail price or the MSRP.  It was probably also offered at the end of a pretty long sales pitch.

You probably didn’t expect to spend anywhere near that much so you told the salesperson that you were going to think it over and he let you know about a rebate or special promotion that was ending soon.  It was good for 30 more days and it would lower the price to $8,000.

That sounded better, but he wasn’t done yet.  After you told him you were going to think it over he called the manager.  The manager gave him a special price because he really wanted to earn your business tonight.  Maybe he needed one more sale to reach his goal.  He certainly had a decent way to explain it.  That special TODAY only price could easily have been as low as $3,000.

Remember, we started at $13,000 which was the 1-year price.  Then we were at $8,000 for the 30-day price.  That’s a pretty big discount already.  Then out of nowhere we’re at $3,000 if you buy TODAY.  This sounds too good to be true, I mean you’re getting $13,000 worth of windows for the incredible price of $3,000 right?!?

NO, these today only window prices are never a good deal.

Ask yourself one simple question and you’ll start to see through all of this.  If the company can sell these windows for $3,000 why would they have tried to charge you or anyone else $13,000.  We know a company needs to make a profit and we’re proud that our company makes a healthy profit each year, but selling a $3,000 project for $13,000 seems a little cold hearted to me.

What if this is really a once in a lifetime type deal?

If you really believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  There is nothing that changes in the window business on a daily or weekly basis.  Prices do change over time just like they do in any business.  For example in the last 2 years our wholesale cost of goods has gone up 4-6%.  That’s about an $8-10 dollar per window increase…in 2 years.

If you were getting a quote for 10 windows and they said the TODAY only price was $3,000 and the 1-year price was $3,100 that would be reasonable.  $13,000 is just lying.

At the end of the day every remodeling company wants to have more customers.  Every remodeling company also only undertakes projects that they make money on.  If they’re making money on your order at $3,000 today then they’ll still take that deal tomorrow or next week.  Anytime you hear about today only window prices you can be 100% sure it’s a bad deal.

Why do they push so hard to get you to sign up NOW?

Because they know more about this business than you do.  They know how their offer compares to their competitors.  They know full well that there are other companies in town who would be glad to complete your project for $2500 with no runaround.  They know that if they give you time to think it over you’ll probably find one of these companies and they’ll lose your business.

That’s why they push so hard.  It’s the only way they can make that extra profit.

If you get that type of hard sell as you’re looking for the best replacement windows for your home just remember that there is no need to rush.  No matter what they say, if you think it over and decide that you do want to work with them they will gladly take your business.

I’ll bet you lunch that you’ll never call the hard sell type company back.  Nobody ever does.

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 “neighborhood discount” and other replacement window tricks

So perhaps you recently had a knock on the door from a friendly local kid.  He was all excited to tell you about a neighborhood discount that a local remodeling company was offering.  They were working nearby and they were offering a discount to any of the neighbors who wanted to have a similar project completed while they were here. They could see you had older windows so they wanted to offer their services.   Once they finish that project and leave the area the great pricing will be gone.

best replacement windows of 2015

BEWARE: This is NEVER a good deal.  

Remember the first rule of avoiding a contractor’s tricks: you NEVER need to sign up immediately.  Of course they’re trying to use your fear of missing a “great deal” to entice you to sign up without giving the project the proper consideration.

Think about it this way.  The workers need to get up every day and leave their houses to come to work.  They’ll drive to your house or your neighbors house or a house across town.  It doesn’t make any difference to them.  Work is work and windows are windows.  If they work in the same neighborhood every day they still need to drive there each day (unless you’re letting them sleep over).

When you get that knock on the door you should thank that kid for letting you know.  What he’s effectively told you is that this company is the type to pull marketing tricks and you’ve now learned that you should avoid them.

If you’re the type who likes to have a little fun, ask him where they’re working in the neighborhood and tell him you’re going to go by tomorrow to see the workers.  They’re probably not working nearby at all.  This is just something they tell folks to make you feel like this is a great deal.

Take a look through some of our other posts on common replacement window sales tricks and keep an eye out for an upcoming post on the most effective ways to get a great deal!

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.

STC Rated Windows For Your House

Like most things in the window business stc rated windows or sound transmission class windows are often misunderstood or misrepresented by salespeople.  We’ve heard all sorts of stories and explanations regarding sound control windows.  The truth rarely gets out there, but here we will cut through the fluff to explain how the various options will work for you.  We’ll look at what these ratings mean, where you will get the best bang for your buck and common mistakes people make when trying to keep their home quiet.

There are standard stc rated windows that can increase the efficiency of your home with specific options and then there are specially designed stc rated windows that are designed for very high noise applications around airports, railroad tracks, or busy city centers.

We’ll start with typical replacement windows.

It is very common to hear a salesperson tell a customer that triple pane windows are a great way to reduce sound transmission.  That seems plausible as 3 panes of glass would likely be better than 2, but in fact it is not the case.  Triple pane windows have smaller air chambers than double pane windows and they sometimes use thinner glass as well to reduce the weight.  As a result, triple pane windows will sometimes be worse than a typical double pane unit and will almost never be better.

An easy way to get a better stc rated window is to add dissimilar glass.  This means one pane of glass is thicker than the other.  A common way to accomplish this is to use laminated glass.  Laminated glass is like the windshield of your car.  It’s actually 2 pieces of glass with a piece of plastic in the middle.  In a double pane window like this, one of the panes will be thick because it’s laminated and the other pane will be thinner because it’s not.

This is typically the best way to take a regular residential replacement window and make it a better stc rated window.  The rating will increase by up to 20% using this method.

So what do these ratings mean?

It’s always hard for folks to get their head around what does a rating of 27 mean or if another product has a rating of 33 how much better is that?  One way to visualize this is to consider that a typical exterior wall with siding on the outside drywall on the inside will have a rating around 34.  A wall with brick instead of siding will be a bit better.

Imagine being in a room with no windows, say a closet in your bedroom.  If a firetruck pulled up outside with it’s sirens blaring you’d still hear it.  Double pane windows are better than single pane windows, and double pane windows with laminated glass will be better than that, but none of these options are sound proof.

Are there better options?

Yes, there are better stc rated windows, but when you go too extreme the windows start to look a little unusual.  This isn’t really an issue if you like on the side of the highway or the approach path to O’Hare, but if you’re just trying to block out the noise of those pesky kids next door you might want to weigh your options.  The Quiet Line from Milgard.  It uses 2 sashes to provide an extra layer of sound insulation. 

stc rated windows
Notice how this window has 2 bottom sashes. It achieves excellent stc ratings, but the sacrifice is that it is a relatively unusual configuration.

What are the common mistakes people make when trying to keep their home quiet?

The number one mistake we see folks make is to install fancy new triple pane windows in an effort to reduce the sound transmission.  As discussed above that is typically a waste of money.

The other common mistake is to think that after installing new windows their home will be completely silent.  The fact is that’s just not the case.  New stc rated windows can make a substantial improvement in the efficiency of the home, but sound is getting in through your walls, your ceiling and your floor.  Depending on how your home is built, there may not be an easy way to completely block out those pesky kids next door after all.

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.