Vinyl Replacement Windows — brands, specs, and upgrades

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Fred Burns
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Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:17 pm

Vinyl Replacement Windows — brands, specs, and upgrades

#1 Post by Fred Burns »

We plan to replace 11 original windows in our 50-yr old house. This board has been a great resource for information, so I figured I’d post a few questions to help us make our window decision.

We are in the Northern Rockies, IECC climate zone 6. All but one of the windows being replaced faces south or west. A typical year can range from -10F in winter (little sun) to 100F in summer (lots of sun). The previous owners remodeled part of our house and used white vinyl windows that are still in good shape, so we want something that complements those. We struggle with condensation and ice on the lower edges of window glass in the winter, even on the newer vinyl windows we already have.

We don’t have most of the brands typically recommended on this board. Our options are basically Andersen, Pella, Milgard, Alside Mezzo, JenWeld, Ply Gem, Cascade, Alpine, and a regional brand called Coeur d'Alene. Based on research, we’ve ruled out Marvin (style, cost), Pella, Jeld-Wen, Alpine, Alside, and Cascade. The Coeur d'Alene windows use a fuzzy strip on the sash rather than a rubber/poly strip on the frame that every other brand uses. That makes them look cheap and we wonder about long term durability of the seal, so those are out. That basically leaves Andersen 100, Milgard Tuscany, and Ply Gem West Pro Series 700 (no premium series available).

Cost for 11 replacement windows, installed. Five windows are picture/awning combos (3 of them are large) and 6 casements. All quotes were for U-Factor 0.27 or less with the standard spacer (Intercept?) for each series.

Andersen 100 double pane: $12000
Ply Gem West Pro 700 triple pane: $8000 (double pane only $400 less)
Milgard Tuscany double pane: $7500

We’re leaning towards the Milgard Tuscany based on their warranty and the general consensus of quality/value on this board. However, we have more confidence in the shop that sells the Ply Gem Pro series, which makes the decision a little harder. The Andersens don’t seem like they’re worth the 50% premium.

Before we ask for more tailored quotes for Milgard and Ply Gem, I wanted to review recommendations.

- What is the perception of quality of Ply Gem Pro vs Milgard Tuscany?
- For the Milgard, I plan to request an upgrade to the foam EdgeGardMAX spacer, partly to help deal with condensation issues. I’m not sure what sort of spacer upgrade is available for Ply Gem, but does the triple pane negate the need for an upgraded spacer?
- For our climate, is the consensus here still that low-E 272 glass is better than 366? We don't get much sun in the winter.
- Also, since we struggle with condensation, I assume we do NOT want the 4th surface low-E coating?

Thanks for your help.

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Windows on Washington
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Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC

Re: Vinyl Replacement Windows — brands, specs, and upgrades

#2 Post by Windows on Washington »

I'd say that Ply Gem and Milgard have similar reputations for delivering a serviceable product.

Triple pane will have a much higher CR number so spacer changes are less necessary at that point.

The sun is super strong where you are. If you have more cooling issues in the summer, you might be better suited to go with the better solar control glass, however, you will virtually eliminate passive solar. If you have some darker finishes to where you can absorb that energy in the winter, it could be a net negative impact as compared to Low-e 272. If triple pane, you definitely don't want Low-e 366.

Don't like surface 4 coatings in cold climates, personally.

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