Why specifically a higher price window beat a Lowe's/Home DP

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Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:46 pm
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana (Northern)

Why specifically a higher price window beat a Lowe's/Home DP

#1 Post by jamesbrogdon » Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:19 pm

I've read through multiple forums online and every time someone asks for feedback on the american craftsman or reliabilt windows (from home depot and lowe's respectively), most of the replies dismiss these products with blanket statements, often because of price and where they are distributed.

I'm all about small business and independents, and most of the time I see the value that comes along with personal attention and having direct responsibility for the products you sell and install (which is different than the home improvement warehouse setup), where someone sells you windows that they have little experience with and no real responsibility to. I just want you to know I'm not biased against independents, but I want some legitimate reasons why I should spend the extra money.

I am replacing 9-10 windows in a single story home in Northern Indiana. Rough Openings:
5 - 36 x 41 3/4
1 - 20 x 29 3/4 (obscure)
1 - 36 x 29 3/4
1 - 36 x 50
1 - 80 7/8 x 49 3/4 (25/50/25 split)

I'd like to focus this to just the 36x42 window. I also want to limit the comparison to just double hung.

Features for the American Craftsman:
Multi chambered frame and sash (optional foam insulation)
Warm-edge glass (the U-shaped spacers)
Dual Weather stripping
Tilt in sash, grills are between the glass
The 8500 series I've looked at has 7/8 LoE2 glass
constant force balance system
only has half screen, in fiberglass. full screen is optional but aluminum is not.
Argon is optional, but the buy up is only $11.61
$185 without the foam inside the frame, probably only $10
U-factor is .32

Features for the Reliabilt 7000 (Lowes)
Fusion welded
Foam wrapped frame
Warm-edge glass
Tilt in sash, enclosed grills
7/8 glass, loE, argon
"twin spiral balance system"
The quote I got includes a full screen, aluminum instead of fiberglass (an upgrade), total is about $20
Quote is $250
No U-factor available ... the Ufactor for the window without the low e argon was like .42

I also had a regional quote, and I am pursuing others, but so far:
Great Lakes quoted me from their Bayshore series,
fusion welded,
warm edge intercept spacers
tilt in sash, enclosed
7/8 glass, loE + argon
blockk and tackle balance system
halfscreen in fiberglass
U-factor is .32
woolpile weatherstripping

Haven't really read the warranties but I know I'm buying mid to low and don't expect much from the warranty.

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Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 2:25 am

#2 Post by InfoSponge » Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:47 am

I had a bad experience trying to get any technical data form the Lowe's salespeople. They knew very little about their windows and windows in general. I talked to two different people who worked in the window department on two different days, with no positive result. This experience scared me concerning what their installers might be like, so I ruled Lowe's out fairly quickly. It sounds like you had a similar experience, since they didn't know the u-value of their window. I would suggest don't buy unless they can provide you one and deliver the window with the NFRC sticker attached.

The main problems I hear with Lowe's are hit and miss installers - not as much that the windows are always poor quality - just not usually mid-high end either. Most of the people who hang out here are very into windows, and lean towards higher quality windows more than the low end stuff, because they believe they save money and trouble over time. You'll have to make your mind up yourself on what you can pay, and what you think it might save you going with higher quality windows. The Pella Thermastar stuff from Lowe's looked of reasonable quality to me, but the Simonton stuff from Home Depot looked better (neither had exceptional warranties). I recently saw the Bayshore, which looked even nicer. I'd say the Bayshore price you got is fairly good. The Great Lakes dealer in my area is a lot more expensive for those.

I have not looked closely at the American Craftsman and Reliabilt windows to comment, but I guess one thing to consider are the things that the data you listed does not cover such as warranty, quality of the PVC over time (is it virgin uPVC?), installer quality, long-term stability of the window, air infiltration numbers, DP-rating, reinforced vinyl, BBB ratings, the extra value of moving to a super spacer or TPS seal, etc. NFRC numbers do a good job of suggesting initial energy efficiency (with the possible exception of air infiltration), but there isn't a similar set of numbers for overall long-term quality of a window, installation, or the quality of a warranty (except maybe length :D ). Those type of things may make the difference in your choice, or will be an advantage of moving to the higher-end windows.

Make sure to compare quotes as an installed price and with tax, etc. Good luck window hunting!

Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:46 pm
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana (Northern)

#3 Post by jamesbrogdon » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:21 am

I definately have to agree on the Lowe's sales people not knowing anything about windows. I think the problem is that they don't have people truly dedicated to windows... at my closest store at least they call it the "millwork" desk.

The first night I went the guy told me "it's a better window" when explaining the difference between the 5500 versus 7000 of the Reliabilt windows, but I had him quote one anyway. I went back with measurements the following sunday (figuring I'd get someone else, and someone who had any experience with windows). I got someone else, but he knew less. A big for instance, neither of them could tell me what "high performance package" or "evo" package meant..

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