Best Replacement Windows: Expert-Approved Buying Guide
When buying and installing replacement windows, there are many choices to make, both with materials and performance technology. Before you begin this major home improvement project, ensure you actually need new windows. So, when should you splurge? Rotting around the frame or condensation are usually indicators that you must have an upgrade. If your frames are still in optimal condition, pick a packet or partial replacement windows. These are the windows that are made to fit into your existing frames.
Still, a window is only good as the person installing it. Be sure to hire a certified window repair shop. Many window manufacturers train/certify contractors and provide a list of them on their websites. You can also check the industry groups like the American Windows and Doors Installers Association or the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. No matter where you look, be sure to check the references.
This ultimate best replacement windows guide will help you weigh your options and puzzle out which materials and style will work perfectly for your home.
What Are the Best Replacement Windows on the Market?
Who Makes the Best Replacement Windows? If you ask window installers, most of them would say the best window brands are Andersen, Pella, and Simonton windows – when you’re looking into home replacement windows. Still, there are loads of options if you need more affordable windows or want to install different window types with upgraded features.
Here is a comprehensive list of the 10 best replacement window manufacturers:
1. Andersen Windows – Best Home Windows
Andersen Windows is the leading window brand in the industry. It’s known for being made of top-quality materials. Andersen has tiers of window quality beginning at the most affordable 100 series, a mid-tier price point at 200 series, a higher-quality 400 series, and premium high priced but impressive Architectural series. The manufacturer also offers custom made windows that come with advanced security features. Its replacement windows last longer than windows offered by cheaper brands; therefore, they’re able to provide more comprehensive warranties.
2. Pella Windows – Best Energy Efficient Replacement Windows
If you need high-quality, energy-efficient windows supported by years of experience, then Pella is the right option. The brand has been around for nearly 100 years and is a real commander in window innovation. The manufacturer also offers an energy-efficient product line with options that will exceed or meet ENERGY STAR certifications in all 50 states. No matter your favorite styles, materials, Pella has the ideal replacement windows for you.
3. Simonton – Best Rated Windows
In case you’re seeking for the best vinyl replacement windows, Simonton is the name you want. While the brand is recognized for the vinyl, its customer service and outstanding warranties prove that this company is committed to quality. In fact, the manufacturer won multiple awards for performance and quality. When you’re lurking for customer satisfaction and durability from your replacement windows, Simonton is an excellent place to start.
4. Milgard Windows
Milgard Windows is a window manufacturer well-known for its diversity of affordable replacement vinyl windows. With four different window lines, there is a wide range of styles and functions to opt from. The brand also features a Quiet Line that’s designed to provide awesome soundproofing for noisier locations. Its aluminum windows are known for having a modern and simple appearance with minimalist styling and thin frames. For a more upscale appearance, the manufacturer boasts a wood-clad fiberglass window line built to withstand harsh weathering while keeping a traditional wooden look.
5. Loewen Windows
Loewen replacement windows, a long-standing Canadian company, produces impressive wood windows with optional metallic claddings in aluminum, copper, and bronze. Loewen is famous for its ability to withstand inclement weather such as storms, heavy winds, and cold, offering storm-resistant glazings and argon-insulated panes, along with thermal spacer bars and energy-efficient low-E glass. Loewen wood windows are members of the top tier price range as they’re highly regarded as a luxury window.
6. Alside Windows
Alside windows are high-quality and affordable products. The scope of window types and model options cater to most requirements. An Alside Window out of the Century line (the most affordable) would cost around $200 per window and cost approximately $385 in total replacement costs. The Fusion product line showcases enhanced insulation, Sheffield windows are well-known for their durability, and the energy-efficient Mezzo series satisfies the strict requirements of ENERGY STAR thermal-efficient features including low-E glass, argon gas, dual-pane insulated glass, and improved spacers.
7. Ply Gem Windows
Ply Gem is a trustworthy vinyl window manufacturer, widely recognized by its foam-filled vinyl windows. The higher-level windows come bundled with foam for increased insulation and can be fitted with double/triple pane glass and infused with argon gas for enhanced insulation. Its replacement windows are in the mid-tier price range costing approximately $400 by a window from the Premium Series.
8. Jeld Wen Windows
Jeld Wen replacement windows are offered in aluminum, vinyl, and wood window forms. They feature all different kinds of windows from the standard double-hung window to handsome bay windows and bow windows. Those windows can be found at local retailers such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. A new 27.5” x 35.5” V-2500 line Jeld-Wen vinyl double hung window would cost around $200 per window. If you want to have it installed, you could expect to pay about $320, including materials and labor in installation costs.
9. PGT Windows
PGT Windows is Florida’s manufacturer of aluminum and vinyl windows that distributes its offerings globally. The median PGT window prices from the Classicvue Aluminum Single Hung Window series cost about $485 per window. Due to their coastal location, they specialize in windows for hurricane-prone homes, but they also produce the most common types of home windows. Each of the window frames is made from 100% virgin uPVC vinyl, which is filled with color- and heat-stabilizing materials.
10. Harvey Windows
Harvey replacement windows are offered in wood and vinyl options. The brand provides quality casement and double-hung windows in vinyl, and a wide variety of wood forms. The most popular vinyl windows are the Vigilant storm window series, engineered to withstand heavy storms that are coveted in coastal areas. Also, Harvey vinyl windows come in an Acoustic series, designed to hold out the noise more efficiently.
What is the Best Material for Replacement Windows?
Considering the best quality windows for your home? Maybe you know which style is your favorite, but which material will give the appearance and durability you’re hoping to get from the windows? Take into account 5 of the best replacement window materials available to help you understand which is right for you.
- Vinyl windows – Considered as the most affordable material in the industry, vinyl could be the best choice if you want low-maintenance windows that stay durable with minimal effort on your part. Since vinyl doesn’t peel, chip, rot, or fade in the Sun, these windows boast a decades-long lifespan. This material is energy efficient, particularly if you pick vinyl windows matched with high-quality glass. Be aware that you can’t repaint vinyl windows without voiding the warranty, so choose a color that will last for years to come;
- Fiberglass Windows – A small step up in cost, fiberglass windows deliver even better durability and energy efficiency than vinyl. For instance, fiberglass contracts and expands very little, meaning no air leaks around the frame. Plus, since fiberglass windows have a consistent color across the entire structure, a scratch or nick is practically invisible and doesn’t need repainting;
- Aluminum Windows – Known for its impressive structural integrity and enduring durability, aluminum windows could be great for the home if you want a modern industrial appearance. Still, metal conducts heat, which can lead to efficiency problems, but you can overcome this issue by picking aluminum windows designed with thermal breaks. An unlimited selection of finishes and colors enables you to customize aluminum windows the way you want;
- Wood Windows – This window material is likely the most elegant option available. Upper-class comes at an upper-price than any other type of window. Wood also needs more maintenance. Without adequate care, this material is prone to chipping, rotting, and wrapping. Luckily, refinishing and saddling as required, maintains the beauty of wood windows and safeguards against the elements. The rewards of exceptional curb appeal, great energy efficiency, and enhanced home value could be worth the extra effort;
- Clad Windows – If you love the beauty and warmth of wood on the inside of your cottage without the extra maintenance on the outside, clad windows are the ideal solution. Choose from aluminum-clad, vinyl-clad and fiberglass-clad windows to benefit from these long-lasting materials on the outside without sacrificing the cozy feel from wood windows on the inside. While clad windows are quite expensive (made of higher-cost wood), many consider the price worth it to enjoy the best of both materials.
Another element that affects the costs of a replacement window is the type of window you’re swapping out. These are the most common types of windows.
- Double-Hung – They feature a lower inside sash that slides up, along with an upper outside sash that slides down. This enhances air circulation, making it perfect for full screens. These windows are also easy to clean since you can effortlessly tile the sash. If you’re planning to install an air conditioner, this style is a good decision. Bear in mind that most include a high trim, which might need some shimming to get the AC stabilized;
- Casement- This style of windows, with a smaller part in the window market, delivers an unobstructed view. They hinge at one side and have a crank that allows you to open these windows outward. When they’re fully open, the casements provide great ventilation, and they’re easy to clean. Casement-style windows tend to be a little more airtight than double-hung windows. This’s because when they close, the sash presses tightly versus the frame. You can’t install window AC on this style window like you’re able with a double-hung style;
- Awning – These products open outward and are hinged at the top. Similar to casements, the sash locks up against the window frame, which enables the window close quite tightly;
- Hopper – They’re the opposite of awning windows. Instead of only opening outward and being hinged at the top, hopper-style windows are hinged at the bottom and are able to open either inward or outward;
- Single-Hung – They look like double-hung windows, but with single-hung windows, only the bottom sash moves. Thanks to this, they tend to be less expensive than double-hung windows. The top sash on these windows is sealed to cool air and keep out water;
- Bay – Bay windows mix two windows with an angled side on either side of a large central window;
- Bow – Bow windows are comprised of several glass panels with the same size, and they curve smoothly. These windows project from the wall outward instead of fitting to the wall;
- Picture – These windows are large and made from one glass pane. Picture windows are most commonly in living rooms;
- Fixed – They’re typically installed in places where ventilation and lightning aren’t necessary. Fixed windows are airtight and come with many unusual shapes and decorative glass details.
Best Windows for Home – Buying Guide
Once you determine the types, materials, and styles of replacement windows, you can switch on choosing. These are the steps you need to consider before purchasing.
Choose a style
As we said, the two most popular types are double-hung and casement windows. Double-hung windows are your traditional windows that open from the top or bottom. They’re easy to clean and maneuver. Casements are more like a door you crank open.
And since the sash locks against the frame, casements are usually more airtight. They also come handy for hard-to-reach areas like over the kitchen sink. You can replace a double-hung with a casement and vice versa.
Pick a frame material
These are the three most common types of windows – wood, vinyl, and fiberglass. Fiberglass isn’t standard, and they did well on many wind resistance tests. But when it came to rain resistance, they were the only form that scored just mediocre. Experts claim there are far better and less expensive options to find in the vinyl ad even some wood windows.
Wood is classic and typically more expensive, but you’ll need to commit to the upkeep. Some windows come with pre-painted interiors, which can out about $100 to the cost of each window. But they’ll need to be repainted. Another option for the outside of wood windows – cladding, which comes in either aluminum, fiberglass, or vinyl. It protects the exterior of a wood window from the elements and eliminates the need for the painting. As for vinyl windows, they’re usually less expensive, but the color palette is limited. However, you’ll never need to repair or stain it again.
Extras and features
You can easily change the windows’ costs by adding upgrades like grills, fancy hardware, exotic woods, and pre-painted windows. If you’re on a budget, bear in mind, these features don’t affect the performance. So, what does? Energy efficiency features like insulated glass and low-E coatings. Most energy-efficient windows these days are double glazed. That means a window is essentially tow panes of glass sealed together. There is space between those two panes, and manufacturers fill that space with either air or another gas, usually argon.
A low-E coating is a transparent coating that reflects hit, but lets light in. Low-E coatings are meant to improve insulation. In warmer climates, it’s applied to the outside glass, so the Sun’s heat is reflected. In colder areas, it’s used to the inside glass to keep the heat in. The good news is most windows now come standard with these energy-saving features. But here are some numbers to look out for when you’re shopping.
- U-factor (ranges from 0.20 – 1.20) – The lower the number, the better the window will keep heat in;
- Solar heat gain coefficient (ranges from 0 to 1) – The lower the figure, the better the window is at obstructing heat from the Sun;
- Visible light transmittance number (ranges from 0 to 1): This number indicates how much light a window lets in. The higher the digit, the more light you see.