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An Apple a day keeps the doctor away
Saint Louis, MO

windows windows windows

Hi all,

We live in a 100 year old brick home in the St. Louis area. We currently have the entire 20th century of window technology in our home.

-Most of the windows are single-pane in-swing French casement windows which leak air terribly and don't shut all the way.
-We have a few double-hung windows with broken ropes/chains that are painted shut.
-We have some awning windows which may as well be holes in the wall for as much air comes in
-We have jalousie windows with warped frames with air pouring in

Needless to say we are going to replace them. What we would like to do is maintain somewhat of the historic look of the home while balancing cost/maintenance. What we want to put in is mostly double-hung windows (white interior/exterior) with simulated divided light grilles. We do NOT like the look of the between-the-glass grilles, there needs to be visually apparently separation between the sections of the glass for it to look right in our home.

We have about 35 windows in the house and we have talked with a number of different manufacturers about styles, materials etc and we have the follow quotes (includes windows and installation):

- Cheap vinyl (Simonton, Plygem, etc) approx $15k for the whole house
- Premium vinyl (Pella 350 series) $30k for the whole house
- Fibrex Composite (Anderson Replacement) $75k for the whole house
- Cheap composite (Anderson Replacement Series 2) $30k for the whole house

The Anderson Replacement guy talks a big game about his windows and how the composite material they use is far superior to vinyl. He throws in the usual used-car sales stuff about warranties, return on investment, blah, blah. We like the look of the Anderson Replacement the best, but we can't justify spending DOUBLE the Pella price. Anderson also offers the Series 2 windows but they only have between-the-glass grilles (HUGE deal to us) and they are single hung (not as big of a deal).

Right now, though we like the look of the Anderson ones a little better we are leaning heavily towards the Pellas based on:
1. Price
2. Appearance of window at said price point
3. Reputation of Pella
4. Ability to buy matching windows easily at Lowes for planned future house construction (anything to avoid the slick salesmen is always a plus).

Here are the questions I have:

1. Do premium vinyl windows (like the Pellas) look good in an older home (1914 brick colonial revival with 3 window bays)?

2. Is the Anderson guy giving me a line of crap when he says:
-the exterior grilles will break off the Pellas in 5 years
-vinyl windows have a very high rate of seal failure
-pellas lose argon at a rate of 10% per year
-the vinyl windows will turn yellow in less than 10 years

3. Does the fibrex material really look that much better/ perform better than vinyl?

Everyone should own a Mac! Go Bucks!

RIP lilhurricane
Canon City, CO
There are two things you haven't been told or haven't mentioned. One big advantage to the composite windows is their low coefficient of expansion. They can and should be made to a closer fit to your opening and are much less likely to develop leaks around the edges as they age. I put composites in our home in Denver when the composite material first came out. For this reason alone they are much better than vinyl. The second item is the argon gas. The sales engineer that talked to me when we did those windows told me that he refused to recommend argon gas because it was a money making gimmick. It does help the first year or two, but because of the small size of the molecular structure of the gas there was no way for any window seal to contain it for the life of the window. He said you might as well just throw the money you'd spend on it in the trash over a two year period and you'd be the same place without fooling yourself. When we sold the house in 2008 more than ten years later they still looked like new.

Louisville, KY
reply to Fronkman
You should probably look at some other options before making your final decision. There are many mid-level manufacturers of Windows who make excellent products, many of them based regionally, so you can actually deal with the factory. Another material to look at is cellular PVC. It has the advantages of the composite windows at a lower cost. Many manufacturers who previously manufactured wood windows are converting to this material because they can use the same machinery!


Lansing, MI
reply to Fronkman
Maybe vinyl windows are better now, but my 10 year old vinyl windows expand and contract with the weather. They leak horribly in both summer and winter because the frames never fit tight to each other. I have also had horrible leaking and fogging where it literally rains inside between the window panes. Fixing every thermopane in the house would cost near what a new window costs.

I replaced my living room picture window with an Anderson wood/aluminum clad bay window (400 series I think), and could not be happier. It is very quiet, and doesn't leak any air. I like the look and feel of the wood interior with the durability and low maintenance of the aluminum exterior. The windows (except the fixed window) tilt and clean very easily. They look more like an older window (in a good way) on the inside because of the wood.

I have heard very good things from many people about Anderson's warranty. They seem to stand behind things much better than the "cheap, whole house for $XXXX" windows in the TV commericals. My Aunt recently had 3-4 thermopane Andersons warrantied because of fogging, they are probably 15 year old windows, and they simply replaced them at no charge.

Novelty, OH
reply to Fronkman
We had installed Infinity Windows by Marvin, and have been very happy with them.

They are a fiberglass based material, so they are much sturdier than vinyl, and have nearly the same coefficient of expansion as the glass. Not sure if this is the same as the "composite" material you are referencing.

There is also an optional wood veneer for the interior surface which can be stained like regular wood.

I don't know if they offer an external grill option, so that may be a deal breaker for you. However, if you are trying to make them look like individual panes of glass, I think they have an interior grill option that accomplishes that.

We have a mix of double hung, fixed, and casement. We have white/white, and some with interior wood veneer. We do not have grills.

Our average cost was about $1100 per window, installed (16 windows).

At least take a look and get a quote. It looks like there are 4 dealers in the St. Louis area that handle Marvin windows.