Replacing Vinyl Windows

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by viribus, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    The front of my house has five single-hung 3' x 5' vinyl windows which are now 25 years old. They look like this:

    Vinyl Windows - 2.jpg

    Two of the five windows have done this:

    Vinyl Windows - 1.jpg

    So I'm shopping around for replacement vinyl windows. I figured around $2K installed, maybe $2.5K, given that the new windows run around $200-$300 depending on quality and options.

    Well holy **** was I ever wrong!

    First bid from a large local home improvement store was $3100. This is for mid-grade windows from Prime Windows, who I've never heard of. The installer seemed very interested in finding other things wrong with the house to add to the job and he told me about another job similar to mine where they discovered extensive dry rot and had to replace an entire wall at a cost of $30K.

    Second bid was $3300, Lowe's. This is for mid-grade Pella vinyl. Online reviews of Pella vinyl windows are all over the map, with some buyers extremely dissatisfied.

    Third bid was $4500, Home Depot, for Simonton vinyl. The HD store salesman had priced out top of the line Jeld-Wen windows. It was $1600 for the windows plus $149 ea. for basic installation. That seems reasonable. But the installer said they don't install Jeld-Wen because they're of such poor quality. I showed him the written quote and he basically said Sorry, we don't install Jeld-Wen even though we sell them.

    The first two bidders said they'd remove all the outside trim, completely remove the old windows, and install the new ones along with new trim.

    The Home Depot guy said they'd leave all the trim in place and cut the old windows out with some kind of saw or cutter. Anyone know anything about how this method works?

    Anyone know anything about replacing vinyl windows at a reasonable cost? DIY is not an option. :(
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
    MJ5150 likes this.
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I replaced several 8 x 8 foot sliding windows in my home about 5 years ago. I opted for aluminum which was challenging... still, the cost from Milgard was roughly $1,000 per window. 8 x 8, versus... The current quotes you have are bogus. Contact the manufacturer of the windows you want; ask for 3 recommended installers; contact each one and ask for a quote in writing. Go with the quote that seems to address your needs the best. Consider additionals like interior and exterior moulding and patching.
  3. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Since DIY is out the window, you're at the mercy of the market you live in. I didn't think those prices looked all that bad if I was paying someone else.
    If you want the next batch to last 25 years too, it's going to cost you.
    We did all of ours when we had a house. I am a fan of Milgard windows, so that is all we used. In my experience, replacing them in my own home and being around the construction trades for 20 years, they are a solid option.
    Make sure someone does it right, and that does not include the cut out and replace option suggested to you. That's not the wrong way per se, but I'd rather pull the trim and pop the window so I can examine the sill, header and studs to be sure it is holding up properly and more importantly to make sure you have them sealed properly and the flashing is correctly installed.
    You get a guy or gal who puts those windows in wrong, that can lead to a world of hurt with rot and water damage all down the side of your house.

    If it were me, I'd be on the lookout for a carpenter or home remodeling company that specializes in small jobs. You don't want someone that only installs windows since they will often lack the knowledge to see the big picture when replacing windows. I think the guys they hire for the big box stores do one thing and they do it fast, replace windows.
    My opinions are a bit slanted having spent 20+ years in the construction business, so I see things sometimes from a different angle than others and perhaps I make a bigger deal than I should.
    Still, your house is your castle. This is not the time to cut corners to save money.
    Don't be short sighted and figure you won't be there in 25 years anyway. You don't want to stick the next homeowner with a bad situation.

  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Big box contractors are all over the lot in terms of ability, and you are paying a middleman.
    geeza, MJ5150 and OldDog52 like this.
  5. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Great point, and unfortunately that is a world rife with kickbacks and the buddy system.

  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    My one experience with the box store contractor was less than stellar...... shows up an hour late, doesn't have a pencil or tape measure, then proceeds to tell me I should do a tile counter versus Formica since it's easier for him.

    My advice is find a local home improvement contractor to do the job.
    OldDog52 and MJ5150 like this.
  7. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    If you have a local Home Builders Association, check their web site for window companies. All members must be licensed, insured, and in good standing with the BBB. I would recommend a local company instead of a big box store. Here in Tulsa, there is a company (Thermal Windows) who manufactures them in Tulsa and installs them. Hopefully you have something similar.
    blastoff99, OldDog52 and MJ5150 like this.
  8. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Piecing together some of the random comments the in-store clerks made along with what the site install coordinators told me, I get the impression the site coordinators don’t really work for the big box stores. I’m speaking of Home Depot and Lowe’s specifically. It’s like they’re salesmen out to sell as much as they can and earn a bigger commission. The site coordinator gets a cut, the actual installer gets a cut, and the big box store gets a cut.

    When a salesman representing Home Depot tells you “We don’t install Jeld-Wen because the quality sucks”, it probably means they’re just not an authorized seller or dealer for that brand. Which is strange because Home Depot stores have Jeld-Wen products prominently displayed.

    As for cutting the old windows out without removing the trim, that just seems very wrong to me. You need to see what the underlying framing etc. look like.

    I hate dealing with crap like this. Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

    To be continued...
  9. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    The electrician I like to hire used to use Lowe's as a referrer for him. He paid a fee and they added his name to a list. If a customer hired him, he gave a cut to Lowe's for the lead. Other than that, he was completely independent of Lowes. After a couple of years, I don't think he renewed their agreement.
    OldDog52 likes this.
  10. hs123


    Aug 11, 2011
    Westminster CO
    This won't help the poster that doesn't want DIY, but I'm just now starting the same search. I want to do the windows myself because all contractors are willing to either leave the wood siding and I want to replace all the wood on my house with composites. I also want to make sure they use a proper vapor/moisture barrier.
    I did find a company called where you can order your own window and it appears they order from Simonton Vinyl E glass.
  11. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Took another look at the first quote, from the locallly-owned home improvement store. It’s actually the most detailed of the 3. It spells out exactly what they do, what’s included, and what’s not included. I might go back and talk to them some more.

    This is the window manufacturer:

    Premium Vinyl Windows & Doors | Prime Window Systems

    One feature I realized I want is vent locks so you can open the window a couple inches but not open it completely. Not all windows include that. Sometimes it’s an extra cost option. Unfortunately it looks like the Prime Series 9000 windows the local store quoted don’t offer that feature. You have to step up to the Series 10000 double-hung models to get the vent lock. Which is how they extract a little more money out of the consumer. Grrr.
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Suspended

    Do what?!?!?!?!?

    Run away!
    Mike N likes this.
  13. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I replaced all the windows in my house with vinyl a few years ago. Had windows that were the original 1920sbera double hung sash windows that had been supplemented with aluminum framed screens on the outside at some point. Figured it would be way too onerous to DIY it.

    My first stop was the big box stores. Decent pricing but did NOT get the warm and fuzzies when it came to the installers. A couple of no-shows and one outrageous quote and some questionable measurements.

    We then went directly to one of the local manufacturers. Was a bit more expensive, but the estimator’s visit inspired confidence and the installers knew their stuff. Took a while to have the windows custom (weird sizes) built but the installers were in and out in one day. Came back the next day to finish up some trim.

    Got a call from the head office a day later saying they realized they installed the wrong window in one of the bathrooms (I hadn’t noticed at that time). They came a couple of days later and replaced with the right product (translucent pane vs clear pane). Great experience.
    Haroldo likes this.
  14. Joedog


    Jan 28, 2010
    Pensacola FL
    I've used Window World twice, and am a happy camper, especially as they blew away the competition price wise. I believe they are a franchise, so quality may vary. Look for reviews on your local WW. Ours has been great.
  15. John6


    Jul 9, 2019
    Central Ohio
    my only advice is pay the extra for low E glass. The house we bought 4 years ago had new windows installed, now the wife and I are planning on tinting the storms because it is not low e glass. Sunlight just destroys everything.
  16. viribus

    viribus Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    I never actually learned to play very well
    Order has been placed. I went with the locally-owned home improvement store. Upgraded to premium double-hung vinyl windows. They’re double-glazed low E with argon fill.
  17. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    If you have a local home builders association I’d be going to them for an installer and guidance on windows that best fit your specifications. Avoid so called home improvement services, their goal is to write second mortgages to cover their work and are pretty much sub par installers of che pass components. As for the BBB around here it’s essentially a blackmail service. They will give any business a glowing recommendation if they pay, even those with lousy independent reviews, and will infer any business not a member is a risky bet.
    MJ5150 likes this.
  18. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    The big stores hire it all out. Mark up on windows is normal. Mark up on labor is high and or over estimated.

    Call a local licensed home exterior contractor.

    You might be pleasantly surprised.

    My brother has been doing windows and siding plus general contracting for 30+ years.

    He wont do anything for the box stores. They overcharge you and underpay the contractors.
    jchrisk1 likes this.
  19. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2011
    Under the flight path

    Basically this, with a big caveat.

    Stay out of the big box stores. Although it's possible to find someone truly knowledgeable about whatever department they're working in, the vast majority of the employees are NOT professionals. You won't be able to choose your installer, nor do any research on who they might be ahead of time. These installers will generally not be experienced people who work for established local companies. They'll likely be seasonal workers, doing as much as they can as quickly as they can.

    Certainly your area has a local glass shop or two? Do an internet search, or if you have a phone book handy, try that. It's likely that local shop will carry more than one brand of windows, and someone who knows a thing or two can walk you through the plusses and minuses of each. And within each brand there will be multiple quality levels. What a contractor might put in a rental house might not be what you'd want in yours. Most people swear by Milgard; my father swears AT them - but then, he's in the rental business and isn't buying their best.

    Also, check with your local electric/gas utility to see if they have energy efficiency rebates going on. Might as well get those if they're available. They may also be a good source for reputable contractor info. (My window rebate two years ago was $20/ft2. No, that's not a typo. It had to do with income.)

    So here's the caveat: There are local window manufacturers, and there are local window manufacturers. You want the good kind, not the weird kind. Around here, we have a company that manufactures, sells, and installs their own windows. They're super high pressure - send a salesman out to your home, immediately tell you what a beautiful home you have (even if it's a dump), give you the hardcore spiel about how great their windows are, quote you a ridiculous price, drop it 40% immediately when you say you need to think about it, hang around in your driveway after you tell them to leave, offer to drop the price another 10% if you sign on the spot because the kids aren't eating much this month, spam you with phone calls for the next two months, etc.

    Don't buy those windows. Buy windows from the local manufacturer that does NOT have their own residential sales team. You will buy their windows *through* a contractor, not directly from them. My windows came from a regional manufacturer that sells to contractors. They are fine windows with a lifetime warranty. Yay.
  20. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Suspended

    Not sure what the OPs budget is, but I see that Pella makes vinyl windows (350 Series). I don't know anything about them as we have only gotten their Architect Series (most of our windows, along with one Proline Series wood windows). Some were installed by Pella's crews, and others by the contractor we have been using for all our major renovation jobs. Most of these windows were "down-to-the-studs" installs, except for the three windows by the box bay with the window seat in the dining room (those are insert windows), but even those required removal of the window casings to do the install. 23 windows in all, and there may be a few more, depending on future projects (9-15 more windows). The windows include double-hung, casement, and awning windows.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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