Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

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Ode4minerva
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Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#1 Post by Ode4minerva » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:41 pm

I've been looking for windows for some time. Initially, I was all-in on Marvin Ultimate/Infinity lines. Then I dug deeper and could not justify the price to performance ratio.

This has me asking, why do the most popular window companies not make the best performing windows? They are pretty enough, but is that all I get for the premium pricing?

By performance I look at ratings for U-factor, air leakage, structural integrity, longevity, warranty, etc. In the US, Marvin (as is Pella and Andersen) is praised as a "good" window company that makes a "premium" product. In terms of performance though, their windows appear to fall short contra Okna, Sunrise, Polaris, etc. If Marvin (and the other big names) does have performance products, they seem to be priced out of the reach of most folks' budget.

Why is this? Am I asking the wrong questions? Am I looking at the wrong metrics?

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#2 Post by HomeSealed » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:53 pm

Those are absolutely the right metrics if energy efficient performance is of paramount importance in your decision. Easy choice if that is the case. Some folks however are less concerned with high performance, and want a rich look and feel above all else, which typically is only possible from a wood window. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, just depends on your priorities.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#3 Post by Ode4minerva » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:20 pm

HomeSealed wrote:Those are absolutely the right metrics if energy efficient performance is of paramount importance in your decision. Easy choice if that is the case. Some folks however are less concerned with high performance, and want a rich look and feel above all else, which typically is only possible from a wood window. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, just depends on your priorities.
Thanks for response. It sounds like you are saying wood has limitations and can never give the performance of other materials? Or is that the wood window companies choose not to make high performance wood windows?

Do you know why a company like Marvin would choose to not make higher performance windows. Even when they use fiberglass those windows do not match the performance numbers of lesser know competitors. How can they be considered a great window company if they choose to not make high performance windows? It cannot be a lack of resources since you would expect them to have more resources than a company like Okna.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#4 Post by masterext » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:17 am

There are limitations when it comes to both wood and fiberglass windows, especially wood.
High end vinyl is extruded and you can basically add as much weather stripping as you want plus you can make the tolerances tighter meaning the window will be more air tight.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#5 Post by Windows on Washington » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:38 pm

I think it has more to do with the fact that high end wood manufacturers don't see the super high efficiency purchaser as their primary consumer.

Again...its all about what you consumer wants. That just doesn't fit their purchaser model is all.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#6 Post by masterext » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:53 pm

Agree, but a " milled product" creates more of a challenge in terms of adding additional features that can tighten up a window.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#7 Post by HomeSealed » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:52 pm

I agree with all of the above. It's like any other consumer product, they are made to serve a specific demographic/end user, and the manufacturers spend the time and money on those specific aspects at the expense of others that do not appeal as strongly to their ideal buyer. At the risk of over-simplifying, your Marvin or Andersen wood window buyer looks at window choices more like a fine piece of furniture, where your high performance vinyl buyer sees function over form.
In addition, there are limitations due to manufacturing and tolerances based on the materials used. If there were one material for windows to be made of that was truly able to deliver the best of all worlds, it would take up 90+% of market share. Vinyl is probably the closest to that, (cost, performance, maintenance, durability, warranty, etc), however it can't match that look and feel of wood.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#8 Post by Ode4minerva » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:30 pm

HomeSealed wrote:I agree with all of the above. It's like any other consumer product, they are made to serve a specific demographic/end user, and the manufacturers spend the time and money on those specific aspects at the expense of others that do not appeal as strongly to their ideal buyer. At the risk of over-simplifying, your Marvin or Andersen wood window buyer looks at window choices more like a fine piece of furniture, where your high performance vinyl buyer sees function over form.
In addition, there are limitations due to manufacturing and tolerances based on the materials used. If there were one material for windows to be made of that was truly able to deliver the best of all worlds, it would take up 90+% of market share. Vinyl is probably the closest to that, (cost, performance, maintenance, durability, warranty, etc), however it can't match that look and feel of wood.
Thanks fellas for sharing your views. This site has been the best initiation into the mysterious world of windows/doors.

HomeSealed, your explanation rocks; it speaks to everything asked by my initial posting.

I agree, in a world of infinite resources, wood windows win all the time. A well made wood window is gorgeous. But in the real world, it makes sense why vinyl wins most of the time. There might come a time when vinyl based windows will have the best of both: performance and aesthetics. Look how far vinyl has come.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#9 Post by TheWindowNerd » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:51 pm

They are final getting to the durability side of things. Clad or wood laminate windows. They just have to decide to pay attention to air infiltration, maybe in 5 years from now.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#10 Post by HomeSealed » Wed Mar 22, 2017 11:21 am

Ode4minerva wrote:

I agree, in a world of infinite resources, wood windows win all the time. A well made wood window is gorgeous. But in the real world, it makes sense why vinyl wins most of the time. There might come a time when vinyl based windows will have the best of both: performance and aesthetics. Look how far vinyl has come.
I agree completely. I think that both materials are progressing, wood windows are paying a little more attention to performance when new products are developed, and vinyls are looking better and better every day, particularly on the higher end of the product spectrum. There are a few new vinyl lines in development that I know of that have some pretty cool, very "wood-like" features.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#11 Post by Ode4minerva » Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:23 pm

HomeSealed wrote:
Ode4minerva wrote:

I agree, in a world of infinite resources, wood windows win all the time. A well made wood window is gorgeous. But in the real world, it makes sense why vinyl wins most of the time. There might come a time when vinyl based windows will have the best of both: performance and aesthetics. Look how far vinyl has come.
I agree completely. I think that both materials are progressing, wood windows are paying a little more attention to performance when new products are developed, and vinyls are looking better and better every day, particularly on the higher end of the product spectrum. There are a few new vinyl lines in development that I know of that have some pretty cool, very "wood-like" features.
Thanks for this, Homsealed.
Can you say who are developing the "new vinyl lines," when they'll come to market, or point to where this info can be found?

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#12 Post by toddinmn » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:46 pm

Andersen actually has some pretty good air infiltration numbers on many of there products, they could boost there U-values with better spacers. Trying to find any air numbers on wood products is tricky business. The big companies don't care because they don't have to, but that time is getting close I think. The warranties are not going to change until one of the big ones up there's, and why would they do that. The lifetime warranties and air infiltration numbers were started by the vinyl companies trying to one up another and that is where I think they'll stay for the most part.

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Re: Why Do the Popular Brands Not Make the Best Windows?

#13 Post by HomeSealed » Mon Apr 03, 2017 1:41 pm

Ode4minerva wrote:
HomeSealed wrote:
Ode4minerva wrote:

I agree, in a world of infinite resources, wood windows win all the time. A well made wood window is gorgeous. But in the real world, it makes sense why vinyl wins most of the time. There might come a time when vinyl based windows will have the best of both: performance and aesthetics. Look how far vinyl has come.
I agree completely. I think that both materials are progressing, wood windows are paying a little more attention to performance when new products are developed, and vinyls are looking better and better every day, particularly on the higher end of the product spectrum. There are a few new vinyl lines in development that I know of that have some pretty cool, very "wood-like" features.
Thanks for this, Homsealed.
Can you say who are developing the "new vinyl lines," when they'll come to market, or point to where this info can be found?
Much is speculation at this point, although there are some nice features like hidden welds, etc that should bring another level of "wood-like" appearance to vinyl products. Others like a stainable laminate are already out there. People don't like the idea of staining, but it does make for a more realistic look.

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