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New construction windows and doors
Old 09-26-2011, 11:00 PM   #1
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New construction windows and doors

Hello,

We are getting ready to add on to our house and are exploring the dizzying array of windows and doors. We've pretty much decided on a fiberglass exterior door and sidelights. We also have to decide on about 10 windows and a large sliding french door. All of these are new-construction windows/door and we are in SoCal. So, here are the questions:

1. Home Depot/Lowes seems to have the major manufacturers like Jeld Wen, ThermaTru etc. I realize a mom-and-pop place might be more knowledgeable, but the two guys I've talked to at our local big box stores seem to be pretty good and they have a very good sale now. Is there any reason not to go with HD/Lowes? They (or their subs) wouldn't be doing the install since we have a contractor, so that's not an issue.. I've heard some say that the Jeld Wen @ HD is of a lower-tier than what you would find at a specialized window store, but I would think at least the special-order windows would be the same quality?

2. Both HD/Lowes can special order windows or you can get their off-the-shelf 'standard' windows from the same manufacturer. The glass thickness of both windows are the same but the off-the-shelf windows are cheaper because they are builder-grade. From talking to some people it sounds like it's the thickness of the vinyl. How important is this especially in our mild climate?

3. Our exterior fiberglass door is smooth and we plan on painting it ourselves. Sounds like the manufacturer paint job isn't anything special. Besides being cheaper, we'd also like to have more say over the exact color of the door. Any problems with this?

4. As long as we aren't going with some esoteric triple-pane window with krypton gas, are windows/doors pretty much the same across manufacturers or at least the top-tier manufacturers? Seems like warranty would probably be the most important consideration.

5. Any other tips?

Thanks!
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:28 AM   #2
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I am kind of in a similar process on new construction. From Lowes/Home Depot the jeld wen seems to be a promoted choice.

Fiberglass has some heat conductive characteristics that help with the R value (low conductivity).

Have you priced the “Complete” windows on display at Lowes? Yowza – that fixed pane curved panel over the window on display costs about as much as the window with the large price sticker.

We are adventurous and have time… so we have sourced the homes windows and doors directly out of china manufacturers and are going to see how a 20’ container will find its way to our build site. For us the process is fun – and the potential $$$ savings are a big upside. We selected some "tilt and turn" aluminum windows with thermal splits – (visited the factory) the windows seem very substantial in feel and components. I understand R values of any aluminum window – even with thermal split sections is not as good as fiberglass – but it’s what we want.
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:39 AM   #3
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It's been about 5 years since I bought our replacement windows, but for us, the best price/quality tradeoff came from the Alside line of vinyl windows. They are worth a look, and have distributors in most places in the US.

Also, it appears to me that none of the new dual-pane windows are a one-and-done purchase. All of the seals eventually leak, and all of the windows eventually run out of desiccant. Most good brands are probably okay for 20 years, then the fogging will start and they'll need to be replaced (or at least the sealed units will need to be replaced). By which time something much better will be available. So, we bought good windows but not top-of-the-line and we've been very happy. They function smoothly, seal well, and keep outside noise outside much more effectively than the old aluminum-framed single pane units did.
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Old 09-27-2011, 11:34 AM   #4
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Just make sure you understand the warranty terms and who's responsible for replacement if there's a problem. My parents had a house built and after only a couple of years some of the seals started leaking on a large bay window. But by that time, the company responsible was out of business, so they had to pay out of pocket for replacement.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:45 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help everyone. I'll definitely check out the warranty and samclem, I found an Alside distributor within 20 min of our house so we'll definitely check them out.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderALot View Post
1. Home Depot/Lowes seems to have the major manufacturers like Jeld Wen, ThermaTru etc. I realize a mom-and-pop place might be more knowledgeable, but the two guys I've talked to at our local big box stores seem to be pretty good and they have a very good sale now. Is there any reason not to go with HD/Lowes? They (or their subs) wouldn't be doing the install since we have a contractor, so that's not an issue.. I've heard some say that the Jeld Wen @ HD is of a lower-tier than what you would find at a specialized window store, but I would think at least the special-order windows would be the same quality?
Before we hired our contractor, spouse spent hours at HD and a couple specialty window stores.

We learned that aluminum frames were better than vinyl for our decor preferences and our climate, which left behind the local specialty window store. I was concerned about that local store's spare parts support, anyway, so I'm glad we're going with aluminum.

When we sent the contractor out for a better quote, he kept running into little gotchas. We wanted low-E double panes with tint. Doesn't sound very esoteric, but Jeld-Wen apparently uses two different thicknesses of glass in their double panes to reduce the resonance effect of certain acoustic frequencies. Each company and brand was not able to deliver on something like that, or their prices would be 40% higher. Among 10 windows and an eight-foot sliding glass door, there were enough design compromises that we ended up back at HD.

They're supposed to be delivered next week. We'll let you know how it works out.

A decade ago my parents-in-law had hellacious problems with the seals on their double-pane gas-filled vinyl windows in Maryland. After months of bickering with the manufacturer over warranty, it turned out that ammonia-based window cleaners are bad for the rubber/synthetic seals on vinyl windows. Hopefully there aren't any other quirks like that on today's products.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:53 AM   #7
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Jeld-Wen is in the midst of financial woes right now so weigh that in any window purchase decisions.
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