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 Post subject: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
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Greetings to everyone from someone who has been reading this board for the last couple of months. I really appreciate all of the information that is provided on this board, but have to admit that I feel like the more that I learn about windows and talk to contractors, the more questions I have. I am hoping that since none of you sell in my area, I can finally get some relatively straight answers. As an aside, I am NOT in any construction trade, but helped my family rehab homes for years growing up and am able to do most all maintenance at my house outside of in depth electrical work. My work requires tons of writing so the following is probably overkill, but will hopefully give a full picture of the situation.

We own a 6 year old (yes, just 6 years) house that is situated so that our south and west exposures are next to about 2 1/2 miles of open fields in central OH. Thus, when most people have a pleasant breeze in their yard, we are experiencing strong winds. And when it rains, it is generally driving rain.

Our builder (as we have learned is typical) put in very low grade windows (Marquee by Philips anyone) that creak in the slightest breeze and when it is really windy sound like they are going to cave in. All of the exterior 5 1/2" composite trim that outlines all of our windows has water damage on the bottom portion and appears not to have been primed or painted in back, and we have been told it is due to the manner in which the windows were installed in that although they have a Z flashing on top, there is no drip edge along the top of the window frames. Thus, add that to that the fact that our inside wood sills on the bottom almost all look like they are getting water damage on the inside, and we have unfortunately found ourselves in the market for new windows since the manufacturer of our windows ceased operations about 2 years ago. At the same time, we will be replacing all of the exterior trim.

We are primarily looking for DH windows, with some openings consisting of 2 or 3 windows mulled together. 21 windows in total, with a couple being casement and one being a picture window in which we may put an awning type. We are also replacing a patio door that inexplicably has weep holes on the inside that do their job very effectively, meaning weep water directly into our house. Are we lucky or what!?!

We have had estimates from 5 contractors thus far, with several being for windows that I see regularly recommended on this board that I had never heard of previously, those being the Soft-Lite Imperial LS and Sunrise Essentials, along with Marvin Infinity and a local brand Rosati. We also got quotes on Pella and Silverline which we have ruled out largely because of what I have learned on here! I have a Vista contractor coming next week, and am thinking about cancelling a Jeld-Wen rep that I had scheduled previously. We have been told that all of the contractors use either employees or captive subs to do the work, and although I am not huge on subs, I am not surprised that some use those.

Darn it if we didn't get a different story from each and every contractor as to what we need in a window making an "apples to apples" comparison VERY frustrating. Soft-Lite says comfort foam filling is great and that air infiltration and water will never be an issue, and that kevlar and superspacer are what matters, others say all of those features are bells and whistles and nothing more. Marvin Infinity say vinyl expands and contracts 8 times more than fiberglass and that the air infiltration numbers are meaningless (as is the fact that Marvin still uses block and tackle), and that we will be replacing vinyl in 10 years regardless of lifetime warranties. Furthermore, Marvin Infinity says that we will lose tons of window size with any Vinyl and that we shouldn't even be considering vinyl in our style of house and that the only reason that vinyl is reinforced with steel is due to its intrinsic weak structure. Sunrise says its manufacturing tolerances and quality is unsurpassed, and that air and water numbers are akin to Soft-Lite but that build process is more reliable. Thankfully none of the manufacturers at least are using weepers like I have now...

As to installation, and in light of our issues on the exterior trim, we have been led to believe by the majority of the contractors that the proper way to install new windows in our circumstance and existing damage is to start over by taking it down to the studs, and install new windows with nailing flanges and all. Followed by using low expansion foam as necessary, and ice shield or whatever would be used to connect to the tyvek. Then installing new exterior trim that we will prime and paint in advance and that caulked and finished upon installation. All of this is a part of every quote that I have gotten. I am not a fan of capping and do not want to have it on the exterior unless there is not another option. The manner of installation removed the local manufacturer from the list since they only install windows using a buck frame and mandate use of capping in order to have installation warranty.

I have been given conflicting advise as to whether or not the interior wood returns and casements need to be removed to do this, but if we don't have to that would obviously save time (repainting) and money. If we do, we are going to have the interior changed to a stool type casement. The Soft-Lite contractor says that there exists a tool which would allow the interior casement to remain up and be ripped in place so that the new windows would be installed easy peasy, and I specifically asked whether he was referring to a sawzall and he denied that. Both of the other contractors say the tool doesn't exist and that I am being misled. I am dealing with owners at all three companies and liked them all, although I really liked the Soft-Lite owner. I have done BBB, Angie's List, and secretary of state and local court checks on all of the entities and owners (yes, a product of my work) and all check out well.

Now, on to the questions:

1 - The Windows

I know most of you see and install both vinyl and the fiberglass products. If money weren't a huge consideration, should I be strongly in the fiberglass camp? If fiberglass is so great, why are there WAY more vinyl options? Can fiberglass handle the wind and driving rain as well as the vinyl? Is the Soft-Lite foam fill an added feature or a gimic? Okna and HiMark are not sold here, but are we missing any other better windows we should look at?

2 - Installation - Exterior

Is the installation process sounding right with respect to exterior? If so, any thoughts on good quality type trim (looking at certainteed and hardie products.) If there is a better manner or method, what is it? Do we have to have capping, because neither I nor my better half are keen on it.

3 - Interior

Are we being sold a bill of goods as to the "special tool" (or better yet are we being treated as the "tools") with respect to ripping back the casement? If an installer uses a nailing flange or fin, can they still foam without removing interior trim? Again, what is the best way to do the interior?

At the end of the day, we want to do this once and never again. We are going to be doing it in stages so that we don't have to finance the work, probably over a period of 3 years, which everyone says is okay. If we are missing the boat on any of the installation, please let me know.

If anyone actually reads this far, thanks in advance for any time that you spend thinking about this or providing advise!


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm
Posts: 1886
Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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jvncnt wrote:
Now, on to the questions:

1 - The Windows

I know most of you see and install both vinyl and the fiberglass products. If money weren't a huge consideration, should I be strongly in the fiberglass camp? If fiberglass is so great, why are there WAY more vinyl options? Can fiberglass handle the wind and driving rain as well as the vinyl? Is the Soft-Lite foam fill an added feature or a gimic? Okna and HiMark are not sold here, but are we missing any other better windows we should look at?You have the windows pretty well covered. You would need to look at the Restorations or Vanguard from Sunrise for a comparable product to the Softlite LS. Nearly everything told to you about fiberglass is exaggerated at best. The Infinity is a nice window, don't get me wrong, but all of that info is bunk. The performance ratings speak for themselves and are undeniable. The reason to go with fiberglass in this instance would be for aesthetics.

2 - Installation - Exterior

Is the installation process sounding right with respect to exterior? If so, any thoughts on good quality type trim (looking at certainteed and hardie products.) If there is a better manner or method, what is it? Do we have to have capping, because neither I nor my better half are keen on it.Everything sounds about right. I don't particularly like the fiber cement trim, I'd look at azek or something similar.

3 - Interior

Are we being sold a bill of goods as to the "special tool" (or better yet are we being treated as the "tools") with respect to ripping back the casement? If an installer uses a nailing flange or fin, can they still foam without removing interior trim? Again, what is the best way to do the interior?He might be talking about a fein tool or something along those lines. Most guys prefer just to pop it off and run it trough a table saw, but ultimately all that matters is the finished product. Insulation can be accomplished either way.

At the end of the day, we want to do this once and never again. We are going to be doing it in stages so that we don't have to finance the work, probably over a period of 3 years, which everyone says is okay. If we are missing the boat on any of the installation, please let me know.

If anyone actually reads this far, thanks in advance for any time that you spend thinking about this or providing advise!

Kudos on the amount of thought that you are putting into this purchase. IMO, it will insure that you are indeed happy with your choice for many years.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
Posts: 23
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Homesealed: Thanks so much for the response, and glad to see that we are on the right track! As to windows, you mention asthetics of the Fiberglass, I presume you mean the smaller profile? If this were your home (and the largest asset you own), which windows would you be using? I like the looks of the Fiberglass, but do worry a bit about still having air coming in during strong winds.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:42 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:27 am
Posts: 832
Location: Texas - Houston & Austin
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Quote:
I like the looks of the Fiberglass, but do worry a bit about still having air coming in during strong winds.


Your concerns about fiberglass allowing more air leakage are unwarranted. While the Marvin Infinity leaks like a sieve, the Inline Eternity double hung has an AL rating of .07cfm, which is very respectable.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:12 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:14 pm
Posts: 406
Location: New Jersey Window Pro- Northern NJ and Central NJ
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i agree with Randy. alot of the fiberglass windows do tend to leak air, however, the Inline Eternity seems to be an exception to that rule.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:14 pm
Posts: 1886
Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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+1


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
Posts: 3709
Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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randy wrote:
Quote:
I like the looks of the Fiberglass, but do worry a bit about still having air coming in during strong winds.


Your concerns about fiberglass allowing more air leakage are unwarranted. While the Marvin Infinity leaks like a sieve, the Inline Eternity double hung has an AL rating of .07cfm, which is very respectable.


Now if they could get that handle.... :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:53 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
Posts: 23
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I contacted Inline on their website, and looks like a Canadian company, but I inquired if had any dealers in my area. I will take a good look. Sounds like other than that, we are looking at the right windows. And apparently, I will play close attention to handle as noted by WOW!

Anyone have a strong feeling about which of these Windows, if we include Inline, will serve us better?


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:23 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:27 am
Posts: 832
Location: Texas - Houston & Austin
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Forget the Sunrise Essentials, it's more of a budget window, though better than most budget windows. For Sunrise, the Restorations or Vanguard lines are worth considering.

Soft-lite's Elements or Imperial LS are top performers, plus they're manufactured in Ohio. Always nice to support your fellow Buckeyes.

Marvin's Infinity is a great looker, but a poor performer.

Jeld-Wen is average in wood and below average in vinyl.

Never heard of Rosati.

I wouldn't let the use of subs sway you one way or the other. Often times the best window installers prefer to be subs to maximize their income.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:52 pm
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Location: SE PA & NJ; CT
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Either SL Imp LS or InLine will do a great job for you.
A Fein or other oscilating multi cut with a high speed metal blade will allow for the cutting of the casing nails. You have great control, not wild like a sawsall.
My conern would be the sizing and the jamb extension, both in depth (in to out) and the reveal against the trim.
That is one reson that we do not use nailing fins so that we can be dead on the interior surface plane for triming.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:09 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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randy wrote:
Forget the Sunrise Essentials, it's more of a budget window, though better than most budget windows. For Sunrise, the Restorations or Vanguard lines are worth considering.

Soft-lite's Elements or Imperial LS are top performers, plus they're manufactured in Ohio. Always nice to support your fellow Buckeyes.

Marvin's Infinity is a great looker, but a poor performer.

Jeld-Wen is average in wood and below average in vinyl.

Never heard of Rosati.

I wouldn't let the use of subs sway you one way or the other. Often times the best window installers prefer to be subs to maximize their income.

Could not have said it better. :D ... Only thing I'd add is that I wouldn't necessarily say the Essentials is bad, just not in the same league as the elite choices mentioned. Comment on subs is very true( I was a sub once upon a time), although ultimately you are looking for a company that will stand behind their work regardless of how their installers are paid.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:14 pm
Posts: 406
Location: New Jersey Window Pro- Northern NJ and Central NJ
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unfortunately there is a preconcieved notion when it comes to subs based on what most people see when dealing with home depot, lowes, and sears. those outfits sub out to the lowest bidder and unfortunately its a crap shoot at that point. many skilled installers only do sub work but demand a premium. those willing to pay that premium have a very satisfied customer in the end.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
Posts: 23
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On the issue of subs: You are right, I kept reading the horror stories on here about HD and big box stores and presumed use of subs equals poor install. Glad to hear it explained and frankly makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.

As to install, the mention that perhaps a nail flange will prevent a flush install makes me wonder if that will be an issue. I am wanting the exterior of the window flush against the exterior trim and the inside flush against the inside sill and returns (I hope I am using correct terms). Is that more easily accomplished without the nail flange?


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:50 am 
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That depends on the jamb depth of the existing units vs the new units. Based on your description, the existing units have a more narrow depth, necessitating the "rip" of the existing jamb extensions. This is common and should result in the end result that you desire. Flanged would be the way to go here, IMO.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralysis by Analysis!
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:10 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:52 pm
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Location: SE PA & NJ; CT
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Once you are narrowed down in product talk to the installer/ contractor about the specifics of your install and jamb depth control and cost.


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