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.

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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.

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.

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21 thoughts on “All Window Warranties are NOT Created Equal”

  1. Please publish a chart of the warranty coverage for various window companies, including frame warranty, glass warranty, etc. so it’s very easy to compare companies.

    We are replacing Andersen products (10 year frame warranty) and want to get a product that has a frame warranty of at least 20 years and 20 years on glass.. or better for a wood frame interior, probably aluminum clad exterior. (Have had a miserable time with delaminating vinyl clad patio doors!).

    Thank you.

    1. We’re working on this as we speak. One trick we’ve discovered is that some manufacturers offer different warranties depending on which company is offering the products. Makes a direct comparison difficult and we don’t want to post inaccurate info. We’ll keep working on it, but it may be a couple weeks or more before we can post anything.

        1. No, I never did. It got a little too messy as many companies will offer different warranties with different window models or they’ll offer optional warranties that some dealers will offer and some won’t. I’ve seen competitors of ours write enough false info about our company that I try pretty hard to be accurate and it was just too complicated to be accurate with all of the variables.

          What window models are you considering? We can probably help out.

          1. Window Dog, it almost sounds like the mattress industry, which is a very confusing industry itself. There are a lot of websites built to try to break through the mystery of that industry. One major problem with that industry (and it sounds like the window industry also does this) is that the companies involved try to make it confusing and prevent customers from making apples-to-apples comparison.

            One way the mattress companies do this is by building the exact same mattress but giving it a different name at each major furniture store. The average customer doesn’t realize that the “Luxury King” mattress at Ashley Furniture is the same as the “Lux Estate” mattress at Mattress Firm and the same as the “Plush Estate” at Haverty’s. All the confusion with names by the mattress manufacturers is intentionally done because they don’t want you to be able to do apples-to-apples comparisons or price shop.

          2. You’re absolutely right, they’re very similar industries. We’re doing our best to help out!

  2. I learn a lot when I read your reviews , you gave good tips about the warranties . I plan to replace my windows with local companies who had some good reviews. Do their warranty trustable . Do I need to know what type of window . They just mentioned about the low e vinyl glass windows with double or single hung. Please help

  3. What is the difference between four point welding of vinyl vs fully welded vinyl. Is it significant and when? What told that Thermal Vinyl Windows are fully welded frames

    1. That’s a funny one. I don’t think there is a difference. Sounds like a sales pitch to me. What did the salesperson tell you the difference was?

  4. Windowdog what is your recommendation? ESPN top ten style? Not top ten? I never knew windows are so dizzying…. Need to replace mine and I am totally lost.

    Go Hawks!

    1. People ask for that all the time! It’s tough because different people want different things. A great window for one person is the wrong product for another. We’ll keep working on it, but my best suggestion is to talk to the good companies in your area to see what they recommend.

      Go Hawks!

  5. Thanks Windowdog for the plethora of information. I have Sears come to my house and throw every sales tactic in the book at us. I live in a small town so my options are limited. Home Depot uses Simonton. Its very confusing but your website has helped. Would love to see the warranty side-by-side comparison.

  6. Pingback: Window Replacement in Atlanta | North Georgia Replacement Windows
  7. We had an Apex Energy Group salesperson give us a quote on the only window they sell, Insignia, today. Some of the sales techniques you write about were true to our experience. That being said, we are trying to determine if their pricing, service and warranty are reasonable for their product. We did not select them, they came knocking on our door. They do want to use our house as a “promotional” house. Our salesman was not overly pushy and did not give us a deadline for the prices offered. Their offer is $13,986 for 17 vinyl triple-pane windows – a combination of sliders, double hung, and picture and this cost includes the installation of quarter round at $70 per window. We have several fairly large windows and a few on the smaller side. The almost $14,000 cost averages out to $835 per window. Without the quarter round installation the cost is $12,796 and averages to $753 per window. My parents replaced windows five years ago through Home Depot and they paid around $675 per window (double-pane.) Will you please look over Apex’s warranty and let me know what you think. You can find it at the attached web address. Also, what do you think of the price? I am willing to pay more for an excellent warranty, but the product must be worth it. Thank you!

    1. Hi Holly, I’m not a huge fan of that product or that sales pitch. I’d suggest you can probably find something just as good or better for the same or less money.

  8. We are so fortunate to have found your website before we purchase the wrong windows and slider.

    We were thinking that the length of warranty was a big point. But as you mentioned the coastal coverage limits the warranty.

    We live in St Augustine Florida within one mile of the Atlantic Ocean and the Inter coastal tidal marshland.

    We need replacement windows after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Some sales people say that we must purchase impact windows at three times the cost of standard windows.

    We would appreciate your advice.

    1. You’ll want to check the local codes for your area. Typically in South and central Florida you’ll need impact windows or other storm protection. You may find it’s more affordable to get storm shutters and regular windows. It just depends what you like. The codes are strict there, but look how much better Florida did than some of the islands in the storms.

  9. A local outfit in upstate NY has an excellent warranty and pretty nice window. Been in business for a while. Comfort Windows
    1. Lifetime warranty on parts, labor, installation. Pretty much everything. I did my basement windows with them and had to use the warranty for glass breakage and they came right out.
    2. They also offer a 5 year non transferable warranty which covers labor for 5 years. Difference in price for the windows is about 12000 vs 13600 roughly 14 windows.

    Trouble is my wife and I have entertained three other companies. One sells the Alside Mezo which has no installation warranty. Company gets decent reviews but that makes me nervous they can’t even warrant the installation for a year. They are the cheapest maybe 10000.

    Another company sells Okna and Anderson only has a one year on installation. However, for anything covered by the lifetime manufacture warranty they do not charge for service calls.

    The last company has the lifetime warranty as well and will find out about installation warranty tomorrow.

    How much should I get hung up on the installation warranty? I want to go with the company with the Okna windows price is about the same.

    Part of my nervousness is the previous home owners of our house went with Pella windows which is fine but Lowes installed them. Nothing but problems. They are about 9 years old and 3 are failing. My wife says I couldn’t possibly pick that bad of an installer as they did… She is probably right but I value the information on this site and your opinion.

    If I go with what I know then I know I do not have to worry about installation…. It is also nice to know they will honor that warranty no problems. I guess I am getting nervous as the other companies in our area although they might be good don’t have as competitive of a warranty. Perhaps because they don’t manufacture their own window?

    1. Sounds like you founds like you found a decent option. You’ll find most companies will also offer longer term labor warranties.

      Did you decide to order from this company and have they been installed yet?

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