Dear PoP – Window Replacement?

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“Dear PoP,

Can I ask you a favor and ask the people if they have any good recommendations for window replacement companies/contractors.

I am looking to replace existing vinyl window in my house and want just the basic white frame that are high efficiency.”

I’ve heard window replacement can be very expensive. If anyone has recommendations can you also say approximately how much you paid?

Ed. Note: For all who’ve sent in questions, I haven’t forgotten you, I’m just going through a queue. My goal is to get to as many questions as possible. Stay tuned for yours!

39 Comment

  • to piggy-back on this question…

    Is there such thing as window/repair replacement to the point of keeping the same style and framing as before, but just upgrading the glass and repairing the pulley system? It seems like this should be something that people do but I haven’t heard of it, and I imagine it’d be cheaper than having to replace the whole window.

    • That’s exactly what I’m having done to my old windows – replacing the single pane glass with laminated glass which is thicker but not double pane. And repairing the sash cords, etc.

      These guys came highly recommended:

    • Problem is with older wooden windows is no manner what you do, you can not get rid of the lead problem. Painting over it will not work like it does on walls as the friction of moving windows will always release the old lead enhanced paint.

    • Go to This Old House, Fine Homebuilding, or Old-Home Journal to find easy how-tos for re-hanging winodws and repairing their pulley system. A moderately competant DIYer can do it for just a couple bucks. Historic Homeworks is a great on-line forum too.

      Old window glass can be upgraded a couple ways. Reglaze the glass (cracked or missing glazing putty is a significant area of air leakage). Add lamination to existing glass (but not to windows that are warrantied, lamination often voids warranties). Install storm windows, either interior or exterior (incredibly cheap and energy efficient compared to complete window replacement). Replace single pane glass with double-pane insulated glass. However this will almost double the weight of the windows and you’ll have to add weight to the sash and pulley system to counter-balance the heavier glass. The sashes may not be thick enough either to carry the thicker double-panes.

      • I challenge the storm window theory. We had storms on our old windows and then we replaced every window in the house with new 2x pained windows. Out heating bills went down by 20-30% and the comfort level of the house increased dramatically.

        • Berkeley, the U.S. Army Northern Climate Laboratory, the State of Vermont, and the English government (which is light years ahead of the U.S. in terms of implementing sustainability in their building code) have all studied the issue and have found that new storm windows on an old window are nearly as efficient as a new modern replacement window. You’re comparing old, unrestored storms and windows to new. Of course new will be better than old, but restored will also be better than old.

    • You can also buy custom sashes from Marvin that fit inside the existing window frames. Their expensive, but they’re probably cheaper than hiring a carpenter. They come in many styles.

  • Pella Windows, Pella, Iowa.

    $700 to $980 per window.


    Weather and sound insulating.

    • FYI, if you are in a historic district it’s more like $1000 to $1200 a window since you have to use all wood windows.

      You can use cheaper vinyl windows in the rear of your house.

      • Regarding the “historic” windows, does anyone know a source of good “historic” windows that are actually insulating? IU have yet to see any examples.

        • What do you mean by historic? My windows fit historic district standards and qualify for the tax credit.

      • They don’t have to be wood, they just have to match. So, composite but no vinyl. I live in a historic district and just had all 10 windows replaced by Andersen. They did a good job and I’m pleased with the results, but damn it was expensive – about $1200 per window. That’s what I expected and planned for, though.

  • I’m also very interested in doing this, but live in Mt. P and would need to do custom casement windows. Anyone else in Mt. P have a good suggestion for custom casement windows?

  • Replacement windows are expensive. My advice is to shop around: we ended up saving over 30% by getting multiple estimates and negotiating. Based on Consumer Reports we decided to go with window specialists rather than getting them installed though Home Depot or Lowe’s (which are cheaper, but the quality of the installation varies quite a bit). We ended up going with Thompson Creek because they matched the lower estimate we had gotten and because they had the best warranty. Although it’s expensive, the good news is that the actual installation took less than a day.

  • I got my windows done by Andersen a few years ago and it was just under $1000 per window. I was able to get discounts because I took advantage of a specials in the Sunday newspaper circulars and and discount offered at the big home/garden convention.

    Now I wanted my windows to look original which added some cost but since I wasn’t in a historic district that was not an extra cost consideration.

    Different companies price differently most often if you get the regular or premium and if you want divided light (i.e. panes). Other things that add on costs are finishes for hardware (locks/handles) and type of glass. Since what you want is pretty basic you will more easily be able to compare apples to apples. When I did it to get what I wanted which was important, Andersen was significantly cheaper than Pella.

  • We had the craftsmen group build some windows for us to match the original specifications and they also did some restoration of our wood panelling beneath the windows. They were excellent.

  • We have used Pella for windows and doors and have been extremely impressed with their quality and the service provided by KC Pella. I’m talking, white gloves worn the whole installation, etc. Absolutely top notch. Expensive, but worth it.

  • Window World – based out of Tennesse, located in Wheaton.

    Had all 13 replaced, top quality, tax credits, and great service all under $3500.00

    All my house hold bills have dropped and adjusted like I expected.

  • We used The Window Man, who have an office on Rt1 in Va. I don’t remember the cost, but think it was ~400/window (we had to do about ten).

    I think their installation was better than Renewal, who I had to have come back. The downside is they can’t do very wide windows, as the vinyl won’t be structurally stable.

    If you are doing many, it’s cheaper per window.

    For Wooden Refurbishment, any decent carpinter can do them. You should request metal pull chains though. It will up the cost slightly, but they pull more easily & will last much longer.

  • We just had our windows replaced. We used Unicorp at about $625 per window (Vi-Tech). They gave a competitive price upfront.

    We also interviewed WindowNation, who seemed a little sleazy – infomercial style sales pitch and then willing to drop price $3,000 to meet Unicorp bid. I did not appreciate that they did not give their best price up front and did not trust them thereafter.

    We scheduled a meeting with Thompson Creek, but they canceled that day. Given what this said about their customer service, we did not reschedule.

  • if you buy your own windows, you can hire a day laborer or two from the Home Depot to install them at about $100 per window (negotiable). Many of the day laborers are very skilled at this type of project.

  • YES! I totally scored. A buddy of mine who is remodeling freak with ridiculous attention to detail found this guy who is a local rep for a window wholesaler. I just got him to replace 19 windows at my house. Great quality vinyl replacement windows, solid feel, triple pane (I didn’t even know they existed, but they really do seem quiet and cozy), good quality latches, and nice looking grids. The installer was amazing– friendly and courteous, but no-nonsense. Showed up at 7:30, installed all the windows in one day. Came back the next day and finished the outside. Left my house clean. He didn’t like the the grid pattern on one of the windows, so took it upon himself to call the wholesaler and order replacements that they will bring and swap out free of charge. The cost was about $250 per window, plus about $150 in installation/materials. I admit I didn’t shop around much, but think that is way cheap, and it included the new EPA lead abatement stuff (probably overkill, but will make you feel better, and legal). I highly recommend them. Call Jim Ragusa at 703-975-5500.

    • We had Jim Ragusa put 29 windows in our house in Alexandria, now he has replaced two neighbors, my aunt and uncle’s windows, and countless friends. Great Windows at a decent price. Shop around first and then call him, you will be shocked at that price difference and we have had no issues with windows.

  • PS . . . I noticed someone recommended a day laborer. It may have been a rare and random occurance, but while the guys were installing my windows, an OSHA inspector came and wrote the guy up because they weren’t following the letter of the rules on fall protection. (They were standing on the flat roof above my porch, where there is no way they could/would fall, but they were supposed to be tied to something, to what I don’t know. Even the inspector admitted that they weren’t really at risk.) Anyway, the contractor was responsible for his workers, so I wasn’t at fault. If you hire your own people, it may be on you. The guys said that in a decade in the business they had never seen an OSHA inspector . . . so maybe it isn’t worth worrying about. But, if someone does fall. Well, yikes.

  • We recently considered multiple window replacement offers. Some (larger-staff) companies charged almost $1000 per vinyl window, while other independent contractors (like District Window, which were kind of harder to reach) offered $600. Independent contractors also usually don’t have a minimum window replacement requirement if you are considering replacing just one or two. Cost also varies based on brand/materials (Pella is more expensive, though it too has different price levels), but be sure the windows qualify for the tax credit (and can be installed this year). I wish I had known about the Craftsmen group (we’re replacing old windows), but we ended up going with a Virginia-based contractor.

  • Installation is the most critical factor in whether your vinyl windows are energy efficient. Energy efficiency measures are in a lab under ideal installation conditions. If you skimp on the installation, you increase the chance the windows will not be installed properly and leak air around the perimeter of the window where it meets the wall. Cheaping out on installation is pennywise, pound foolish.

    Vinyl windows will last 10-15 years. Their gaskets between window panes last half that time. You’ll need to start saving for the next replacements right away once you’re on the vinyl treadmill.

    Fiberglass windows (which is completely different from vinyl) are the best replacement option. Stronger than vinyl, less prone to expansion and contraction (so they last longer than vinyl), don’t conduct heat like aluminum. Better than new wood windows which are built from inferior quality wood when compared to historic wood windows.

    Cheapest option is to repair old wood windows if you’re lucky enough to have them. A simple battery of repairs and installation of weatherstripping will make them nearly as energy efficient as modern replacements at a tenth of the cost. Old, pre-war windows only have like 8 moving parts that are easily repaired. Modern replacement windows have up to a hundred plastic widgets and springs to make them work, if one breaks the window won’t work and likely can’t be repaired.

    • New wood windows can be built from whatever you want them built from.

      Saying new wood is “inferior” is uninformed.

      • Wood in today’s market no longer comes from old growth, rot resistant species. Wood in today’s market generally comes from second growth or farm raised wood. These trees are typically young and fast growing with cell structure prone to moisture absorption and rot.

        Or more diretly, don’t buy pine windows. They’re usually offered by the big window companies, but there’s about 20 different species of pine. Only about 4 are moderately rot resistant, and only if the wood comes from the right part of a tree that’s had enough time to grow slowly. Today’s pine has 4 or 5 rings per inch. Quality pine from a hundred years ago would have 20 rings per inch.

        New wood that is available on the general market, left unpainted or not pressure treated, rots within five years. Sure you can hunt down an exotic species and lumber milled from an old tree that will be worthwhile quality, but it’s hard to find and certainly not used in today’s typical wood window.

  • Quality Windows is Beltville is familiar with all of the historic regulations and can do both vinyl and wood. We live in Logan and I had about 7 quotes done before picking these guys. Excellent work and nice to deal with.

  • The basics of window installation can be found on the pella, marvin and anderson web sites, as well as all over the internet.

    I suggest that ANYONE getting quotes for window installation familiarize themselves with the steps and verify that they are done properly on their windows.

    1) Windows are rough installed and are squared and level. There are ~10 places to check to ensure that your windows are square and level. Buy yourself a good level at HD. Screws should be through all the shims and there is a manufacturers recommendation for the number of shims. Verify the windows are square and level before they start putting on the exterior trim. I had one guy install 2 windows cockeyed 1″ and I made him rip them out.

    2) Exterior framing should match your house and your neighborhood and should slope away from the window. *Every* joint needs to be caulked with painters caulk.

    3) The rough opening needs to be insulated with either spray foam (messy pain in the butt) or batting (can have air leaks and worthless if it gets wet).

    4) Interior trim needs to be square or level and needs to match the existing trim in your house. There shouldn’t be any gaps in the wood joints and the 45degree angle cuts should meet up perfectly.

    5) Any plastic sheathing (wood houses) or sills need to be installed properly (instructions on the web).

    You can get a sense in the first 30 minutes of watching your window installation whether the crew knows what they’re doing. Usually they cut corners on the square and level part or they skip over the caulking.

    Since you can’t watch all the guys do all the windows, if you see one guy cutting corners, you can assume they all will and you should stop the work until the company sends out a representative to inspect (This is one reason not to do windows in the fall).

  • I had a good experience with NoVa Exteriors. Basic vinyl windows, but double paned, energy star rated and qualified for the energy tax credit. I only replaced 3 and it was about $700 or $800 a window, but I think if you do more the cost efficiency goes up.

  • The replacement is expensive but the other ones will work better for you and your home.

  • Replacement window installation is beneficial for us because we can control what type of design or colors we want to have. It is an investment simply because it is a part of our home that surely can affect our mood through our environment.

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