What to Know When You’re Looking for New Windows
Sep 30, 2018 05:55PM
By Vanessa Orr
It’s not every day that you buy windows for your home; in fact, many people will only make this purchase once in their lifetimes. And while there are a lot of options out there, there is also a lot of confusion when it comes to figuring out what you need and what you can afford. And that’s why it’s best to talk to the experts.
“People may or may not understand everything they hear when you’re talking about double-pane vs. triple-pane, or insulated sashes and frames, or low-e glass,” said Debi Arnett, event manager, Champion Windows. “What’s important to know is how the window is constructed, what type of glass is used, its energy efficiency and the warranty. And that’s why our reps explain everything.”
“Because people don’t buy windows or doors every day, they have to rely on the expertise of salesman,” added John Schmotzer, president and founder, Metropolitan Windows. “They need to feel comfortable with who they’re dealing with. It’s not all about price—you want a quality product, as well as quality installation and service.”
Options for Every Home
Every home is unique, and you want to find windows that not only suit your house’s style, but save energy, fit into the budget, and are convenient to your lifestyle.
According to Schmotzer, many customers are now choosing fiberglass frames, which he says are durable and have better longevity than vinyl frames. “Thermoset material (fiberglass) is better, because vinyl, which is a thermoplastic material, will lose its dimensional integrity over a period of time when exposed to heat,” he explained. “Fiberglass will always maintain its original shape.”
Metropolitan Windows carries Infinity from Marvin fiberglass windows, which can be custom-made in whatever style homeowners need. They also carry a custom-made wood clad product.
Schmotzer added that there have been a lot of advancements in low-e coatings, which are based on the number of coatings of silver oxide put into the glass. “This increases energy efficiency as far as the reflection of radiant heat escaping from the home in winter, and it reflects radiant heat in the summer months, which helps you gain energy savings year-round,” he explained.
When it comes to saving energy, buyers need to understand what to look for when purchasing new windows. “People are used to seeing the Energy Star® symbol, which means that the windows are more energy efficient,” said Arnett, adding that windows need to have at least a 50 percent argon level to earn the Energy Star® rating. “Champion tests our windows before they leave the factory to make sure that they are 95-97 percent argon, which means that they are only losing 3 to 5 percent of a home’s heating or air-conditioning. Even if it’s really hot or cold outdoors, it doesn’t penetrate the windows.”
“Double-paned windows with that level of argon are better than most triple-paned windows, for a lower price,” she continued, adding that the company also incorporates layers of silver into the glass in order to keep furniture, wood floors, draperies and home decor from fading.
Champion also insulates their window’s sashes and frames, which many companies do not. “Our windows are fusion-welded at the corners, so they don’t need screws, glue, or metal bars to reinforce them,” said Arnett. “From the outside, all windows may look the same, but on the inside, they are really not.”
Products sold by Windows R Us also have fusion welded frames, which help prevent air infiltration issues, according to Sales and Marketing Manager Jeremy Griffin. “Customers can also upgrade to steel spacers instead of aluminum, which helps with heat transfer,” he added.
“We can also add insulating foam to the inside of window frames and sashes (the part that holds the glass) to help get the energy efficiency number really low,” he said, adding that all of the triple-paned windows they sell are .18 U factor, which is 10 points below what is required for the Energy Star® rating.
Customers on a budget can take advantage of the company’s ‘good, better and best pricing’ model, which enables them to find a quality product at the perfect price point. Windows R Us carries two vinyl window manufacturers and Pella fiberglass and wood windows in its product line.
How Long Will They Last?
Since this is a purchase that most homeowners only want to make once, it’s important to make sure that the company you choose is reputable and offers a complete warranty.
“Many companies out there are charging way too much, so it’s important to get multiple estimates, as well as to look for someone who has a long-standing track record,” said Griffin, adding that Windows R Us has been around for 10 years and installs approximately 600 to 700 windows per month.
“Companies should also be transparent about the materials they use on the job,” he continued, adding that the company provides a full materials list that covers everything from windows to caulking.
“Consumers should do their homework—read reviews of companies on Google and on the Better Business Bureau page, and ask for referrals from other customers and drive by their homes to see the work they did,” said Schmotzer. He added that Metropolitan Windows subscribes to GuildQuality, a company that surveys their customers and posts their comments—both good and bad—on Metropolitan’s website.
“It’s also important to have a good line of communication; don’t let anyone pressure you into signing a contract before you’re ready,” he added. “And don’t allow price to be the deciding factor; quality products and installation last a lot longer than a cheap price.”
Warranties are also key when purchasing this type of product. “Statistics show that 90 percent of home improvement companies don’t make it five years, so you can find yourself with a pretty worthless warranty if the company hasn’t been around a long time,” said Griffin. “Windows R Us offers a true lifetime warranty that includes parts, labor and glass breakage. You buy a window from us once, and you never have to buy one again.”
According to Schmotzer, Marvin offers a limited lifetime warranty on its fiberglass products and a 10-year full warranty on labor or service charges in the future.
“Champion’s warranty is all-encompassing and includes screens, seals, glass and installation,” said Arnett. “The lifetime warranty also transfers to a new buyer for one year if a person decides to sell their homes, which is a good selling point.”
While it is a large expense, buyers need to remember that they don’t have to do it all at once.
“I advise people to do as many as they can afford to do; it’s better to do two or three right instead of doing them all with an inferior product,” said Schmotzer. “As for when to do it, most people know when it’s time. You shouldn’t feel a draft on your head when you’re sitting on the sofa.”
To learn more, visit Metropolitan Windows at www.metropolitanwindows.com or 800-655-8411; Champion Windows at www.championwindow.com or 412-787-3649; and Windows R Us at www.windowsruspgh.com or 412-892-9960.