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 Post subject: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:37 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
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Thanks to all who have responded to my posts previously, and yes, I really have been looking at windows for more than 6 months. :shock: I was about the pull the trigger on Soft-lite imperial LS, but in dealing with a window distributor, he mentioned that the Ply-gem Premium Series windows might fit my needs better. I hate to look at another window when I had almost made up my mind, but I really only want to do this once, and after this long, I better be right.

We are installing new construction style windows (with nail flange) for numerous reasons. One of the options that has been selected by my wife and is a must now is bronze exterior and the interior is going to be white. I have learned that Soft-lite's exterior colors are painted and baked on, whereas the Ply-gem are actually colored extrusions which I understand means that the color is actually throughout the vinyl. The Soft-lite warranty is also only 10 years on the exterior finish whereas the Ply-gem is lifetime on that.

The same distributor also sells Okna (not a big seller for them) but they are new to this line. Okna also uses baked on paint. They supposedly can also get Sunrise, and were not sure whether they use a colored extrusion vs. paint for exterior colors. Should I be looking at these two lines, even though if I bring home more windows my wife might have to check me into a looney bin?!?

Adding to my hesitation is that I contacted one of the Soft-lite dealers relatively local to my area, and he really put the bad mouth on Soft-lite as a company in regards to service and initial product quality. He said that he much prefers ProVia windows (I had only heard of their doors before) and that Soft-lite windows have tons of issues with hardware failure and are a pain the the butt to deal with as a company, and that this has arisen in the last 3 years whereas before the company was great to work with.

So, my questions:

1) Ply-gem premium windows seem to have good numbers. Does the extruded color make a difference to you if only 10 year warranty on baked on paint on others (Soft-lite, Okna)? Price will be a bit less for Ply-gem.

2) Soft-lite quality going down and/or difficult to work with, or am I hearing from a disgruntled dealer?

3) Should I add Sunrise or Okna to the mix, and if so, does Sunrise use colored extrusion?

4) Cost of Sunrise as compared to Soft-lite?

Thanks again folks!


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:39 pm 
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1. Don't see any perceptible difference in quality between a foil and paint.
2. Haven't heard anything negative about Soft-Lite to that extent. Sounds more like a disgruntled dealer but I do not deal with them that much any more.
3. I don't think it would hurt to have a comparable Okna or Sunrise quote. I think they are both painted finishes but I am sure the Sunrise guys can correct me if I am wrong.
4. Depends entirely on the dealer/vendor.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:43 pm 

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WOW:

Is a foil the same thing as meaning that it is actually the color of the vinyl? Sorry, just making sure I understand the use of the term foil.

Out of curiosity, what brand are you focusing on now? I only ask as I have seen in the past that you were a proponent of the Soft-lite product.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:48 pm 
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Foil = laminate exterior color

Most of our clients are using Okna in terms of our vinyl business.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:52 pm 

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Got it, thanks for clarifying. The Ply-gem is actually a colored vinyl, meaning a Bronze vinyl all the way through, as opposed to a laminate/paint. I am sure I used the wrong term above.

If still not a big difference, that would be good to know. My presumption was that an actual colored vinyl, as opposed to a paint or laminate would be preferable.

Any thoughts about the Ply-gem window itself as compared to the Imperial LS or Okna or Sunrise?


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:06 pm 
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HomeSealed knows the Plygem stuff as well as anyone. I will wait for his feedback on this window comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:22 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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The Plygem is indeed a co-extrusion, meaning that it is bronze colored vinyl. In this area the Plygem does have an advantage in durability (and probably price), although to what extent is debatable.
The Softlite Ls has superior performance ratings to be sure, so I would probably lean in that direction. The Okna and Sunrise would be more comparable to that product from a quality and performance perspective, so it would not be a bad idea to get them quoted as well.
In terms of Softlite as a company, I have done some business with them, but probably not enough to make a strong recommendation either way. If anything can be said, they are very solid financially which cannot be underestimated in this day and age.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:03 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
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Homesealed, I saw from your previous posts about plygem that you were selling a lot of those back in 2009 - 2010, so if you have time could I please get your thoughts about the quality of the window generally, as well as how well it will do with respect to air infiltration (which is one of my primary concerns because of where I llive) as opposed to the Soft-lite Imperial LS and the Okna?

I wanted to get the Elements as opposed to the LS, but the only company that is allowed to sell them in my area is wacky. Quick example, quoted 31,000 for installation of 23 sashes (meaning some are double mulled windows) in 18 openings. :roll: I think it is a cruddy business model that gives exclusive rights to sell a window in certain areas, but I guess that is soft-lite's right.

The biggest concern that I have about the baked on color, is if it is only warrantied for 10 years, I am lead to believe that it will inevitably fade over time. Soft-lite says you can buy a paint from them to re-paint if fades after 10 years, but since I am getting a relatively dark color with matching grids inside the glass, I am thinking that I cannot repaint those. Does anyone have any experience with these baked on paints with respect to longevity? Is one companies finishing process better than anothers?


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:40 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:11 am
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I believe the Ply-Gem comes in Earthtone brown extrusion not Bronze.
Soft-Lite has a Bronze foil as well as painted exterior.The foil is a step-up.
I don't think Soft-Lite's quality is going down but compalints usually are on dealer/distibuter side of things and should not effect you nor would I not use them because of this.
I prefer the extruded first the foil second and the paint last. The Bronze foil is quite a bit darker than the earthtone brown and probally looks the best. I don't know how well the paint and foil hold up after time. Everything fades even the extruded colors the question is how much.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:23 am 
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toddinmn wrote:
I believe the Ply-Gem comes in Earthtone brown extrusion not Bronze.
Soft-Lite has a Bronze foil as well as painted exterior.The foil is a step-up.
I don't think Soft-Lite's quality is going down but compalints usually are on dealer/distibuter side of things and should not effect you nor would I not use them because of this.
I prefer the extruded first the foil second and the paint last. The Bronze foil is quite a bit darker than the earthtone brown and probally looks the best. I don't know how well the paint and foil hold up after time. Everything fades even the extruded colors the question is how much.

The bronze co-extrusion is a newer offering which I have yet to see in person, but I did make a call to confirm that it is available in addition to the earthtone that was traditionally offered.

On Plygem in general, it is a pretty solid choice. I actually have some installed in my own house. Unfortunately, the main area that you will see a difference between it and the Softlite choices is in air infiltration. You are not going to feel drafts coming through or anything like that, but you are looking at going from less than .05 AI up to .19 AI on the Premium series. In the past, I had been a believer that the the AI rating differences were a bit overblown and used more as a sales tool than anything, however since then we have gotten into energy audit projects and such where I have been able to see real differences when a blower door and thermal cam are used.
So, to answer your question, will you be satisfied with the Plygems? More likely than not, but the Softlite and Okna choices are tighter units to be sure. More weatherstripping, tighter manufacturing tolerances.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:11 am
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Do you have data that shows the difference between the 2 windows on a blower door test between the 2 windows under similar conditions?
Were your past customers not happy with your Ply-Gems?
I have seen many blower door tests with new windows installed from Pella, sash kits, to lower end vinyl's and they are never the week point in the air infiltration. These homes were gutted,typically new batt insulation in walls with vapor barrier, rims spray foamed and were pretty tight.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:10 pm 
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Location: Milwaukee, Madison areas
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toddinmn wrote:
Do you have data that shows the difference between the 2 windows on a blower door test between the 2 windows under similar conditions?
Were your past customers not happy with your Ply-Gems?
I have seen many blower door tests with new windows installed from Pella, sash kits, to lower end vinyl's and they are never the week point in the air infiltration. These homes were gutted,typically new batt insulation in walls with vapor barrier, rims spray foamed and were pretty tight.

You are absolutely right Todd, the windows typically are not the weak point- at least in terms of payback, however that does not mean that there is no difference between a window that is extremely tight compared to one that is not.
You are preaching to the choir here, believe me. One only needs to look back at my posts from a couple years ago to see how adamantly against the "pro AI " crowd I was, that is until I saw indisputable evidence that proved it to have significant merit. As far as data, that would be very difficult to get an apples to apples comparison from one home to another for a variety of reasons, but we are planning on building a "live demo" in our showroom where several different windows are installed and a blower door is hooked up. I'm hoping to get that done over winter.

-Can a home be made super tight with average windows? Certainly.
-Would it be even more efficient with a tighter window? You betcha.
-Do superior performance ratings including air infiltration provide a good indication that a given product is designed and built better than another, and therefore provide a higher level of performance over a longer period of time? Yes once again.

On Plygem, my customers have been happy with them for the most part. As I have said previously, I do believe that it is a solid window. It just would not be considered among the "tighter" products that are out there, which are what I would prefer all things being equal.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:54 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
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Glad to hear soft-lite is still solid. Getting Okna quote Monday.

Well, since air infil. Is one of our biggest issues, i better stick with top tier. Big question then is how concerned should i be about dark exterior color fading ? 10 year warranty worries me.

Is foil better option? Can i repaint if fades? What if internal grids fade?

Marvin Integrity is fiberglass and does color on outside but AI isn't great number.
Should i quote these?

I think Homesealed or WOW just needs to open shop here and make this simple for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:21 am 
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jvncnt wrote:
Glad to hear soft-lite is still solid. Getting Okna quote Monday.

Well, since air infil. Is one of our biggest issues, i better stick with top tier. Big question then is how concerned should i be about dark exterior color fading ? 10 year warranty worries me.

Is foil better option? Can i repaint if fades? What if internal grids fade?

Marvin Integrity is fiberglass and does color on outside but AI isn't great number.
Should i quote these?

I think Homesealed or WOW just needs to open shop here and make this simple for me.

:D
I think that your choice to put performance first is a wise one. Regarding the exterior coatings, they have been highly durable from what I have seen over the years. There have actually been some products that put a 20 yr warranty on them for the same exact coating due only to the way that they are setup with that particular vendor. If at some point after the warranty period you do want to repaint due to fading, that can certainly be done.
On the grids, they are going to be coated the same regardless of how the window frame is coated or capped. The are afforded some additional protection by being inside the glass, so that should not be an issue either.
The Marvin Integrity is a pretty nice window, however as you have alluded to, it takes a step back in performance which would seem to go against your goals for the project. You would also need to do full frame removals as they do not make it in a "replacement" jamb depth of 3 1/4". You would probably pay a premium for that product in comparison to its vinyl counterparts as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Still looking...
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:07 am
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As suggested by several on here, I have now also quoted the Sunrise window. I have asked for which kind of window is being quoted and the dealer that I am working with has indicated that it is the new construction Sunrise window. I see many references on here to the Restorations and the Vanguard series, but in searching, I cannot locate much on the new construction Sunrise window. I was told that it was quoted this way because of the welded nail fin which is required since we are doing full tear-out installation.

On our color concerns (dark brown on the exterior), Sunrise is a co-extrusion on the exterior color, and there is no limitation as to the length of time on the warranty because of this. In looking at the window, I do like the amount of glass versus some of the other windows that I have looked at. However, the reinforced meeting rail is not an option on this line of Sunrise windows.

What do you guys think of this window vs. the Imperial LS? I don't think that this distributor can get the other lines of Sunrise, but don't know if they need to based upon the online numbers that I am seeing on Sunrise's website. They also quoted the Sunrise patio door, and in total, it comes out maybe $1000 cheaper to go with Sunrise over the Imperial LS. So, to me, that is really the same cost when considering that I only want to do this once.

Any input is, as always, greatly appreciated.


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