Ryan Carey of My 3 Quotes joins us for another week to discuss which type of window is the best.
Tessa asks about low emissivity or low-E windows and the layers of coating. Ryan explains its effect on houses, the light, and the heat that comes into the house, especially in the winter. He discusses the cost of double and triple-pane windows as well as gas fills like argon and krypton. They highlight that improving the windows helps increase energy efficiency.
Ryan discusses the difference between the pros and cons of wood, vinyl, fiberglass, and composite windows and their warranties. He further talks about window brands like the Anderwon Renewal and Marvin Infinity. He shares why he personally chose a vinyl window for his house.
Ryan can be reached through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website at getmy3quotes.com.
The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to my house. Welcome to the Structure Talk Podcast, a Production of Structure Tech Home Inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman. I’m your host, alongside building science geek, Tessa Murry. We help home inspectors up their game through education, and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019 and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom.
RS: Welcome everybody. Welcome to the Structure Talk Podcast. We are here again with Ryan Carey. This is week two. Ryan Carey of My 3 Quotes talking all things related to windows. We had him on the podcast last week. We learned that Ryan has a unique company where he goes in and where he will give people quotes on different products from different competing companies. Typically, his focus is on windows and siding and roofs, right Ryan?
Ryan Carey: That’s correct.
RS: Those are kind of the big three. And get people a better deal than they would get any way else. It’s all super low pressure sales focused on education, not about trying to close stuff. And sometimes Ryan will close sales years later and that’s just fine for him. So, he is the opposite of the high pressure salesperson. And so last week, we had him on the podcast talking about windows and really just talking about how windows are a made for the kitchen table sales presentation, all these little tricks and tactics that windows sales people use to close the deal on their first visit at the house, fascinating stuff. Loved hearing your stories, Ryan. And this week, we’re gonna talk about different materials for windows. We’re gonna talk about vinyl and aluminum and wood and fiberglass and what actually makes up the difference in all these different windows. And of course, maybe we’ll talk about what Ryan prefers when it comes to windows.
RS: But before we get into that, after we finished the last show, Tessa had this list of questions she still wanted to ask Ryan, ’cause I ended the show after like 40 minutes and she wanted to ask all this stuff and I said, “Wait, la la la la la,” and covered my ears and said, “I don’t even wanna hear it. I want to hear the answers to these questions, but I’m sure other people do too. So let’s save it for next week and just write down your questions Tess, and let’s ask Ryan on the week two.” So Tess, I wanna turn it over to you. What burning questions do you have on your mind?
Tessa Murry: Well, I apologize. These questions are a little bit more detailed. So for anyone that’s listening that wants to kind of get some more information on these low-E coatings and triple pane versus double pane, this is for you. Anyone else that doesn’t care, you can skip. [laughter] You can skip this part of the podcast.
RS: Everybody cares.
RC: Of course they do.
TM: So I didn’t realize, Ryan, that you could buy windows that have one layer of low-E coating or two or three layers, and so I’m just wondering, what actually is the big difference between one layer of low-E versus three layers and how many layers can you get? And is there kind of like a return on investment that makes sense for just sticking with like a one layer versus a three-layer?
RC: Well, some people specifically will request just a layer because they want more light in their house. So that affects the light that comes through because you have more of a tint the more layers of low-E you have. The majority of what I work with is with the three layers of low-E coating and it does add a little tint and you can see the difference between a clear glass window and three layers of low-E. But you don’t typically notice it as much. In your house, there’s always one side that has more light than the other where sometimes people see a window in a showroom where the light is the same on both sides and they notice that tint more. So when you’re asking for one layer of low-E, you’re either wanting just more light to come through, you have a dark house, you want the most amount of light possible to come in. So you want less there. And you’re gonna have a less efficient overall with just one layer versus three, but when you have less, you also get a little more of the passive heat that you can get in the winter.
RC: Sometimes you have a part of your house where the winter sun just warms up and the extra low-E is gonna cut down. Because it cuts down on UV rays and again, it reflects the radiant heat back to its source. So it’s not letting as much passive heat come in. But still, when you do three layers of low-E coating, that’s your most efficient glass pack, and then it’s working all times of the year. Again, it’s helping your air conditioning in the summer because it’s, again, it’s reflecting that heat away. But in the winter, it will cut down some on the amount of heat you get from the sun in the winter.
TM: That kind of brings me to my other question which you just answered which was, I had a condo that had a wall of glass sliding doors on this porch and they were single pane, they didn’t have any low-E coating on them and it made that porch just impossible to spend time in, even though it was fully enclosed and it had some heat to it in the wintertime when it got really cold because of just all of that glass. But what was interesting was when the sun came out on really cold winter days, it was south-facing and it would just heat up that porch and I could open up the second set of sliding doors into the main living room space and literally heat my entire living room, dining room from the solar heat gain coming through those sliding doors. And so I was thinking, if I installed new low-E double pane glass doors, I’m gonna lose some of that free heat I’m getting in the wintertime that heats my condo, and do I really wanna do that?
RC: Right. Yeah, and that’s where… I mean, again, when you balance it throughout the year, you are still gonna get some of the solar heat gain and again, every window has the solar heat gain coefficient on there and visible light transmittance is another rating that windows have and that rating is gonna change the more layers of low-E you put on it. But again, you’ll get some through, you won’t get as much through as you would in that situation, but you think about the majority of the winter and how long our days are and most of the time, it’s dark. And so again, what low-E is doing is reflecting radiant heat. So the heat that’s coming out of your registers instead of just letting it escape through the glass, it’s reflecting more of it back into the house. And then with the argon gas to that, that helps. But you’re getting the best overall throughout the year rating on the three layers of low-E. But yes, it will not get as hot. I got a bay window, I got plants, and then my cat loves to sit there. Or they might go down to the standard, kind of the two layers which is very common, which is called just low-E2.
RC: Or as Cardinal Glass makes it, because Cardinal Glass makes the glass for most of the windows, certainly most of the ones I deal with, there’s PPG as well, but Cardinal Glass out of Northfield, they make their different glass packs and they’ll call it Low-E272 and then they have Low-E366 and every different company calls it something different again, ’cause they private label their packs. “So we’re gonna call this and N-tech Pro, or we’re gonna call it something else.” But it’s basically either Low-E272 or Low-E366 and that’s the two-layer or the-three layer. And one layer is pretty uncommon nowadays, but it can still be asked for, and then clear is really not even… Hardly existent. Some people can still get it if, “Oh, I got a garage window, I want the cheapest thing possible.” But for your house, yeah, it’s… I’m trying to think if I’ve even… I’ve done low-E2 a decent amount of times where people are just like, “I wanna hit the happy medium,” but the vast majority of the customers I work with end up going with the three layers and then the argon gas.
TM: Yeah, it’s wrapping my head around the low-E coating reflects the heat back out which is a benefit for my space in the summertime when it was already 80 degrees outside and you have all the sun coming in that bay of sliding glass doors and making my condo 100 degrees, it’ll help out during all those times. But in the wintertime, the low-E, I won’t get all the heat coming in from the sun, but I’ll still be able to keep some of that extra heat in with the low-E coating reflecting the heat back.
RC: Yeah, exactly. Right. You’re just keeping more of the heat coming from your registers, but yeah, when you have that sunny day and the south-facing side in the winter, that room will heat up quicker if it had no low-E in it at all.
RC: But then again, you’re…
TM: You’re paying for it in the summertime. You recommend a three-layer coating of this low-E.
RC: Yeah, which is basically getting your best double pane pack. Again, you can go into triple pane and that continues to up the price of the windows and it will add the extra weight to the sash. I mean, triple pane windows are, they’re heavy. I mean, glass sashes, even double pane, there’s a decent amount of weight to that. You add that third pane and now you have a lot extra weight on that, whether it’s sliding sash or it’s coming out or is cranking out and now that’s extra stress on the hardware that’s being cranked out. Some patio doors will not do triple pane ’cause it’s just too much weight to have that big sliding triple pane. So yeah, that’s part of why I like kind of funneling on that double pane that gives you nearly triple pane efficiency with the three layers of low-E coating and the argon gas.
TM: And I’m sure that the cost difference between a double pane and a triple pane is pretty big right?
RC: Well it can be kind of that 10%-15% jump in that range.
TM: And I know there’s a lot of other factors that would change this, but would it be a 10%-15% increase in efficiency going from a double pane to a triple pane too?
RC: No. No. Yeah, it would not. So yeah, you’re really… You’re getting a better… Again, you’re getting a better, efficient…
TM: More efficient window.
RC: More efficient window. Yeah, you’re not making a big difference there from your 0.26 to your 0.24, whatever that change is made in the U factor…
TM: It’s minimal, yeah.
RC: Yeah, it’s…
RC: What I’ve seen people do where it makes sense is they’ll do it on a… They have the big picture wall. They have the picture window wall and these are not operable windows, so they’re not going anywhere anyway, so now the weight is not gonna transfer over to the hardware.
RC: So yeah, it’s…
TM: It’s more durable, yeah. And then one last question about the gas fills, is there a certain type of gas fill you recommend the most over others, and why?
RC: Well, the most common is argon, and really the only one that gets used is krypton. Krypton is more expensive. It is a little bit heavier than argon, but it goes up a decent amount in the price.
RC: Yeah. But it’s kind of fun to say krypton.
RC: That’s big. It sounds cooler too. But yeah, so you can get that. When someone is saying, “Hey, here’s our max glass pack. It’s got triple pane, it’s got krypton,” that’s a big, kind of more of that sizzle part of selling something versus really the argon. They’re both noble gases, if we’re gonna go into chemistry, which just means they’re heavier gas. They have their outer electron shell filled and they’re similar gases. Krypton is just a little bit heavier, but it’s more expensive to get for the window manufacturers, and so more expensive to work with. It does take a decent chunk up in the price just to go from argon to krypton, and then you wanna make sure you have a window that’s holding in the argon and the krypton that can dissipate over time if there’s not a good seal there as well. And how it’s filled, that’s an interesting thing to see how it’s filled at the plant too, because you want to fill it from the top of the window, they make a little hole in the space they’re in, they put a tube in there and they fill it up till it gets up to the top. If that wasn’t coming from the top down, you’re not gonna get it filled all the way up.
RS: How do they know when it’s full?
RC: Yeah, they have a sensor for that, from what I saw. But that was my same exact question, it’s like you can actually… I remember one of the plant tours where you could actually kind of see it when it overflows, like you can actually… If you see it just right, it’s almost visible, ’cause it’s like it can go down the floor level. But that’s if some kind of dust and other things are going along with it in an air flow, ’cause it’s heavier than air, so it falls, it falls to the ground. Because it’s like if your room was filled with argon or krypton, it’d kinda be like trying to walk through water. It’s just heavier than the regular air.
RS: In my mind, I always thought that… I always had this idea that they’re like under pressure or something, and of course, they’re not under pressure.
RC: No. No.
RS: It’s the same pressure as everything else. Why would it be under pressure? But I’ve always had that idea in my head like, “Okay, yeah, it’s the exact same pressure as anything else.”
TM: What’s confusing too is thinking about collapsed glass, which that’s getting into a whole different arena, but we do find that defect on windows sometimes and that happens when the gas fill leaks out, right?
RC: Are you talking a seal failure?
RS: Well, but a subset of a sealed failure where with collapsed glass, it’s failed where apparently the argon molecules are smaller than regular air and you can have such a minor leak where the glass sucks in on itself when it gets really cold, and then the argon leaks out, but then the air can’t get back in and the glass stays up there.
RC: Yeah, yeah. And they actually have special… When you’re dealing with high elevations, they have to account for that. If you’re selling windows in Colorado, you can’t just ship them from a different place.
RC: And there are some windows that actually have… There’s a… And I forget what it’s even called, because it didn’t affect. It was something that is put in there so it allows for that pressure change when you’re going up higher elevations, because otherwise, yeah, you have collapsed glass left and right. So when you’re dealing with higher elevations, you to account for that with what you’re filling your glass with.
TM: So these higher elevations, they either have to manufacture the window in that elevation for it to not fail, or they have to have a specifically engineered window that can handle these changes in elevation?
RC: Yes, and there’s a name for it too, and what you need to have in that glass pack that allows for the elevation change, and then pressure change.
TM: Reuben and I are both just geeking out right now. We had no idea. [laughter]
RS: Our jaws are on the floor.
RS: How many times do you go to a high altitude place, on a plane, and then you open your toiletries, you open up your lotion and they go…
RS: They explode.
RC: Right, yeah.
RS: Yeah, this is a real thing.
TM: Uh-huh. Fascinating. Well, thanks for answering our detailed questions on some more of those scientific features of windows.
TM: That was helpful.
RC: Absolutely, yeah. And one thing I’d like to clarify too on that first question with the percentage difference, I’m always thinking from a, what’s the difference in your heat bills? When you asked about a 10%-15% difference, you could actually have that on the glass pack and the window change itself, but on heat bills, that’s what most people are asking about. So again, windows being that one part of your house, that is a one part in many others, people ask that question all the time, “How much of a difference is it? If I get all my new windows replaced, what kind of percentage am I gonna see difference in my heat bill?” It’s like, you can’t say really anything because there are so many other factors that goes along with that. If people will comment, “Oh, your heat bills are gonna go down 40%,” or that’s kind of like when you ask that question, that’s immediately what I was thinking, I’m just like, “Well, you’re not gonna see a 10%-15% difference in your heat bill going from double pane to triple pane.” So that might be the difference in the U factor. You can see that percentage. So I just wanted to clarify that. But the people who say that, “You’re gonna see this difference by getting new windows,” it’s just, you can’t guarantee anything.
RC: And yeah, every single window is done and you got a better, more efficient window, obviously you should see some kind of difference there. But for people who either think that they’re gonna save enough on heat bills to help pay for the project or for the sales person who says, “These are gonna pay for themselves because your heat bills are gonna be so much better,” it’s just not the case. It can be a piece in the puzzle, but you’re just not gonna see. There’s so many other factors going on there.
TM: I’m so glad you’re saying that because I think it’s such a common misconception, and mainly due to the fact of window manufacturers trying to sell their product to people. People just think that, “If I were place all my windows, I’ll save a ton of money,” and really just the upfront cost of the window themselves, if you’re putting it on windows, I mean, it’s what, like a 30-year payback maybe, return on investment?
RC: Yeah, I’m not willing to say, “Raise the value of my house to that amount,” and all these questions that you get and it’s just… I can’t say any of those things. It’s like, well, it certainly helps when a customer walks in and they see… ‘Cause I certainly did this when I bought a new house three years ago, and of course, I’m a window guy, so I’m looking at the window, I was like, “Oh no, all these windows are gonna have to be done. This house is gonna be… That’s gonna be a $30,000,” whatever the case is. Where if I see a maintenance-free window and they look in good shape, I’m like, “Okay, we’re good, we’re good.” And so that, of course, buyers are coming in knowing those things too, so it can certainly affect buyer decisions to see new windows in there.
RC: People come to me saying, “Hey, I’m gonna buy this house. It needs to do windows. Wow much is that gonna cost?” And I can look at that and give them an idea, and then they might use that as a negotiating tactic with the house, saying that this house needs new windows. But there’s nothing I can say that, “Oh yeah, this is gonna pay itself back in this amount of time,” or “This is gonna drop your heating bills by this amount… “
TM: This percent, yeah.
RC: Because I cannot say anything, but I can say, “Hey, you’re gonna like your new windows.” ‘Cause, well if you’re replacing them because they don’t work anymore, or they’re really drafty and these ones won’t be, or whatever the case may be. But yeah, to make any claims like that, I stay away from any of those claims.
TM: Well, and people think that, like you just said 15% increase for energy efficiency doesn’t translate to 15% decrease on your heating or cooling bills because windows are only a portion of how that heat loss is happening in your house, or heat gain is happening. You’ve got your walls, you’ve got your attic, you’ve got all these other things that contribute the efficiency of your HVAC equipment, so 15% increase of efficiency of windows might only be a 10% factor of the actual heat movement through your building envelope or the efficiency of your heating appliances. So it’s just, that’s difficult Math, I don’t think, without a lot of modeling and software and engineering skills, you can’t figure that out.
RS: Yeah. And even if you know you can improve your windows by 20%, which is a big jump, then you’re improving 20% of 10%.
TM: Right. Exactly. Thank you. Yeah.
RS: Then how do you account for that if there’s any variability in the weather from one year to the next? It’s impossible.
RC: That’s exactly right, ’cause yeah, there are some companies who will make those claims and then… But you’d wanna read the fine print there. “So what happens if it doesn’t work out that way? Pay for my windows?”
TM: Good info, good info for people to maul over.
RS: Well, Ryan, I wanna… Before the show’s over, I wanna get into the main topics today.
TM: What were we gonna talk about today? Yeah, what was the focus?
RS: I think it has something to do with windows. We’re gonna talk about some different types of windows, and I’m hoping you could just hit some of the pros and cons for people trying to decide different window types. And the four that we’re kinda thinking about today is gonna be vinyl, wood, composite and fiberglass. So, Ryan, take it away.
RC: Yeah, absolutely. When it comes to these, as we mentioned in the last one, everyone who comes to the house is gonna show… They’re pitching one thing, so they’re gonna show you the cheap version of those other three things. So just keep in mind that every one of those products, there are good windows made with all of those products. I’ve never been shy about saying I like to try to get away from real wood on the inside of the house in Minnesota, because you can have that condensation in the corners no matter what. And don’t ever let anyone tell you they’ll guarantee no condensation either, because that is not gonna happen. That’s based on your humidity level, it’s based on the dew point of the house and the temperature…
TM: Outdoor temperatures?
RC: Your heat from your register might be getting to your glass and making it warmer or it might not be. Maybe you got it behind blinds or maybe it’s a bay window, where it sits further from a heat register. There’s just no guarantee there, that’s why I like staying away from real wood, as beautiful as a real wood window might be, the newer ones can be pretty efficient and have less maintenance than the old ones that were totally falling apart. But to start with just the different products, I usually start with vinyl, ’cause they are still the most popular windows out there. And the cost of course, is a big part of that.
RC: There are many different levels of vinyl windows out there, and even every manufacturer themselves has their different level of windows. They have their top line, which I always say when it comes to vinyl, we live in Minnesota, let’s just use the top level, when it comes to vinyl. Use their top of the line, unless you’re just trying to do something… The area isn’t as important or you’re trying to save money because you’re selling the house, whatever the case may be, use their upper level window.
RC: And all of those are gonna be lifetime warranty. When it comes to vinyl, your pros and cons are vinyl… I’d say everyone could agree, is probably the one they don’t like the look of the most. Vinyl windows look like vinyl, they have fusion wells in the corners, the nicer ones too have a thicker frame. So that’s a big thing, that if a fibre-glass window is pitching against vinyl, they’re gonna show, “Hey, we can use thinner extrusions on fibre-glass because fiberglass is stronger and you’ll get more glass with this window,” than a good quality vinyl window, needs to have a little bit of a thicker frame, so you’re gonna lose some glass space with that. And so again, with vinyl, it’s what’s the look? And then what’s the color? Am I good with a solid color? Do I wanna try to have it look like wood? I’ve never seen the collapse of woodgrain vinyl.
RC: Woodgrain vinyl used to be really popular. It’s just a laminate that goes on vinyl windows that light oak, dark Oak, maple, mahogany, cherry, and they’re actually pretty nice looking as far as… Some people hate them, so when I say total personal preference, but so many people have been moving to white nowadays and they’re changing their oak-house over to white. That white has just become so popular, which is good, it’s the least expensive too, but wood-grains are just kind of leaving the marketplace, it still exists, and some people still do them, but again, you know you’re locked into that color. You’re gonna sell your house, someone’s gonna come in, they wanna change all that oak trim to white.
RC: They can’t really change… Technically, you can paint a vinyl window, but that prospect of sanding it down, and with the movable parts and everything, wouldn’t advise it. So again, with vinyl, you’re getting your best price, and I’m very comfortable with Lifetime vinyl window, that’s a good quality. I did it myself when I built a house in 2005. Most of the windows in that neighborhood, they were wood interior windows, whether they were Andersons, or Pellas or whatever they were, being in the industry, I said, I don’t wanna deal with the maintenance of a real wood window down at those corners, where the deterioration is gonna happen.
RC: I said, I gotta do a vinyl window, and at the time, I was working with a company that did all side windows, so that’s what I did, I did all side final Windows, did them in a beige color ’cause that worked with our colors better and my wife was happy with that and the look was the thing there that we were concerned about because they don’t look like wood. And actually, if you look at the picture on that blog, that’s my house, that’s my beige window in my old house. So in the picture, in the materials and methods, you’ll see a beige window with maple trim and those are the windows that I put in my house. So obviously, I’m comfortable with vinyl windows, when they’re a good lifetime product.
TM: And they’ve lasted 20 years.
RC: Yes, and I’m out of the house now, but they lasted when I was there, I lived there for 14 years. 15 actually, so yeah, and never had an issue with them during that entire time. While I had neighbors who were like, “Hey, do you know any painters who know how to deal with this. I’m getting mold on my wood windows,” so that’s certainly something to… Hey, there it is. [chuckle] Reuben just put it up. That is a…
RS: We’ll put that in the podcast notes.
RC: Yes. Yep. That’s the one. So you can see it’s a base window there, it goes good with the wood trim that’s there, so it wasn’t a laminate, trying to look like wood. It was just a beige color that you still saw the casing in the jam was done in maple, and then the window itself was their in beige.
TM: So I hear you saying you’re a fan of vinyl.
RC: Yeah. Or when you ask me the question, Which customers do, I”If money was no object, what would you do?” I would do the fiberglass, they’re both lifetime warranty windows, and money does exist, and I feel like I can get a really good quality, high-level vinyl window, I’m all for it. People ask, “Well, do they expand and contract more than fibre-glass?” Yes, they do. Vinyl windows do have more expansion and contraction, than any other window out there, but again, if you’re using a good… I typically use the OSI quad cocking on the outside, which it’s a good quality product there, it moves with the product as well.
RC: Some day you’re gonna have to do new cocking out there, that’s part of any window, ’cause eventually you… You may have some holes there, or as the years go by and the house settles, so that’s… The two cons for vinyl is more expansion contraction. Do I like the look of it? The wood, the fibre-glass that look better, am I okay with losing a little bit of glass? Those are your cons. One other thing to say as a pro is a lot of the vinyl windows use that foam spacer technology, where many of the other windows still don’t. There was a wood window that I actually included in the original Big 3 article where I was talking about Anderson, Marvin and Pella, and I brought up weather shield windows ’cause they were a wood window that used a foam spacer, they don’t use a foam spacer anymore. So now I took that one off.
RC: Did that one. Because, again, when you’re not using a foam spacer, you’re getting more conduction, heat and cold conduction there, so, you have something that you’re gonna get a more effective overall, U-factor on a vinyl window with a foam spacer than you will in that same window with a metal spacer. So that sometimes is the difference. I’ll be showing them a vinyl window and that same window in fibre-glass, and there’s maybe a 0.02 difference in the U-factor, even though it’s the same cardinal glass, low-E366, same stuff, but just the spacer makes that little bit of difference in the overall U-factor. So vinyl windows mostly do the foam spacer technology. The other ones do not. The weather shield, I think was just more of a convenience thing, as you saw in the last couple of years. We saw some things, options leave the marketplace ’cause people had to stick to their bread and butter ’cause there were supply chain issues and things going on, they had to take away some of their options, so that’s why you saw that there. But there’re other things you can say as a plus for a vinyl, that’s why again, I’d end up choosing vinyl because that makes the difference to me, just to have something lifetime, I know I can depend on it, it’s not gonna deteriorate.
RC: Yeah, I’d rather have a fibre-glass window, but you’re gonna pay… Nowadays, sometimes in the 20% range on that whole window job. So that can make the difference between a $30000 job, to a $36000 job. And, do you wanna pay the extra 6000? Some people do, some people don’t. And some people come into the showroom and go, “Oh yeah, I like this,” and it’s so quick when people see a vinyl window, they either hate it or they’re like, “Oh, I don’t see much of a difference here between the vinyl and the fibre-glass,” and they’re okay with it. And then it depends on the house too, sometimes it’s just a real nice high-end house and the vinyl just looks cheaper in there, so they decide, “Yeah, I wanna go with the one that has a more natural look,” like the fibre-glass does, so…
RC: Or the wood does.
TM: So the fibre-glass will not expand and contract as much, and it might have a look that some people like more, maybe a little bit more glazing surface area but…
RC: Yep, more glass. And the corners are cleaner, because they actually butt right together, instead of having a fusion, while vinyl, they’re actually melted at the corners, and then they’re smooshed together, and then you have that little overage there and a little scalpel comes out basically and takes off the extra, you still see it. Now, I’ve never had a problem with a fusion weld, again it’s something that if you’re selling vinyl, you’re gonna pitch that, “Hey, this has a cleaner look, gives you more glass,” and then they usually exaggerate by showing you a picture of, here’s looking through a window here and you look out and you see your family outside, and then here’s looking through a vinyl window and one of the kids is cut off and you can’t see…
TM: Oh people trying to sell fibre glass, yeah…
RC: You’re selling fibre glass over vinyl, “Look at that, you’ve lost a member of your family by… ” [laughter] It does look better. Again, that’s why I, with money not being an object, I would do fiberglass. Obviously, I’m a big fan of that Marvin Infinity product, that is all fibre-glass. And so moving into that from vinyl, and we’ve already talked about quite a few of the differences there, just to compare it against something. So the negative with fiberglass is the extra cost, you’re paying extra for that and really you’re not gaining anything in efficiency.
RC: So you’re really paying for the look, or you’re paying for, “Hey, I’ve heard of Marvin before and I haven’t heard of Lindsay or Simonton or Provia or Allside,” or all these different vinyl windows that are out there, ’cause they’re well-known, nationally advertised brands, which is part of the reason they cost a little more too, so that’s what you’re paying the extra for the look. And there can be some performance aspects there too, again, Marvin uses a lot of the… As far as hardware and everything else goes, people, sometimes they’ll try the two crank outs and they’ll just have the feel of everything, how something slides and they’ll decide that’s the way I wanna go. Mainly, you’re paying for that look and you’re paying for a well-known name, in many cases. So that’s where you see the difference.
TM: So then, what about this composite window? I don’t know much about that.
RC: Yeah, so there’s windows, the most popular composite window that most people know about is the Anderson product, which is made out of Fibrex, it’s a wood vinyl composite. So basically, Anderson’s regular windows are the one they made forever, like their 400 series has vinyl on the outside and wood on the inside, and it’s actually, got a wood frame that vinyl goes over, so there’s wood in the frame, it’s not a hollow Vinyl window. Like many of them are. Some of those other vinyl windows, they’ll have some foam in the frame or they’ll have some fiberglass reinforcing here and there, but otherwise it’s a hollow chambers for the most part, where Anderson wraps their vinyl over wood.
TM: Is that the case for all composite windows? That they have a vinyl wrap over wood?
RC: No. So that one is actually what I was saying, is that’s how they make their vinyl wood window is made out of vinyl on the outside, wood on the inside, the Fibrex is the combination of those two. So when they have the cut-offs and the by-product of here we have all this extra vinyl and extra wood, let’s grind it up and combine it and you make a composite product called Fibrex, which is part wood part vinyl. It’s sort of like you’re decking, you’re different composite decking, just some wood fiber in there, but it’s not all wood and it’s not all vinyl, it’s a combination of the two. So that’s what that composite window is made out of, and they’d make that in their Renewal series, it’s all that Fibrex product, and then they also have their 100 series, which is basically the lesser expensive version of the Anderson Renewal.
RC: That’s one that is priced a little more competitively, and it’s one that contractors can buy versus… Both your Anderson Renewal or your Marvin Infinity, you can’t just buy that product on your own and install it yourself, it has to be… With Renewal, it has to be bought as an install through Renewal, and with Infinity, it has to be bought as an install through one of the companies that handles it., ’cause they have three companies in the Twin Cities that handle their product, yeah, that’s how those… They kinda work the same way that way.
TM: What would you say the pros and cons are of a vinyl and wood composite frame?
RC: It’s stronger as well, than just vinyl alone. In the Marvin Infinity brochure, ’cause of course they’re, again, pitching against Anderson renewals so often, they show you the stats of their Ultrex fiberglass versus Fibrex versus vinyl. And you’re gonna see the vinyl expands and contracts the most, and then the Fibrex next and then there’s the least. And then the strength, they show, they’re the strongest and then Fibrex, and then vinyl. So again, you’re getting a stronger product with the Fibrex and it’s more solid, less bendable, than vinyl, it’s more sturdy. That’s another thing when you’re pitching against vinyl, and I always love this display, they show a kid standing on a big long piece of vinyl that’s basically on two cinder blocks and the kid is tagging down in the middle, and you do that on fibre or fibre-glass, and he is sitting nice and tall there, ’cause there’s more flex in vinyl than there is in both the Fibrex or the fibre-glass.
TM: And is the price point kind of in mind too? I mean, Vinyl’s the cheapest, the fiberglass is the most expensive. Is that Fibrex kind of in between the two?
RC: It depends on whether you’re getting it through Renewal or from 100 series. 100 series, yes. They’ve hit kind of a competitive spot in the middle, but then the Anderson Renewal is right up there with the rest. Actually, when I get Marvin Infinity quoted out, I always get lesser prices than what the Anderson Renewal is, just because, again, I’m using my competitive methods there. But the Anderson Renewal is a very expensive option, so they’re right up there with the aluminum cloud wood and with the… A fibre-glass that has a stainable interior and that kinda thing. But the 100 series, then they kinda hit a point in between. So the 100 series has less options, it doesn’t have a stainable interior, it has just solid colors and it is… It doesn’t look as nice as the Renewal, it kinda uses a little bit cheaper looking hardware, it also doesn’t have the option for a double-hung, it’s just a single hung, which means the top sash is stationary and then just the bottom one moves up and down, and it doesn’t have the tilt in feature.
RC: So again, Renewal kept a lot of the good options that, ’cause they know they have… They basically, Anderson makes two product out of the same thing, one is less than the other, they better save some options for the one that costs more, they have a lot of those options that a lot of people want including the stainable interior. But the one thing that I have to point out in the difference between stainable interior of the Anderson Renewal and sustainable interior of a Marvin Infinity, the Anderson has a… It’s a real wood laminate, so it can deteriorate where the Marvin has… There’s nothing organic in the Marvin stainable interior, so it doesn’t deteriorate, it doesn’t have the mold and things like that, you can still get on the Renewal one.
RC: However, in the Renewal, if you do a solid color, there’s no exposed wood or wood laminate. So it’s a good product. Again, it will not have the deterioration because it’s all covered, they use a cap stock to go over this fiberglass.
RC: So again, you’re in good shape with that one. Again, I don’t recommend real wood if you can avoid it, and I don’t recommend a real wood laminate, you can avoid it, of course, we’ll get more into that in the Marvin Anderson-Pella discussion there, but just to kinda talk about some differences from composite to fibre-glass.
RS: And that’s what we’re gonna be talking about next week, right? We’re getting into the big three, Marvin versus Anderson versus Pella.
RC: Correct, yeah, we’ll talk about… Everyone always ask me, “On Marvin Anderson Pella, what are the differences? The different lines, they make so many different lines, what’s the difference from this one to that one,” and they all have… Again, just like your different products, your materials, you have different pros and cons with their different lines too, because they make so many different lines. So yeah, we’ll talk about that next week. As far as just the materials or talking about those, that’s kinda your difference from your vinyl, to your composite, to your fibre-glass.
RC: And then you have, of course, the real wood, which is still available, and most of those are with aluminum-clad exteriors, a real wood interior or like with the Anderson, when I talked about they have a vinyl exterior with a real wood interior, and it’s the most beautiful window of that there is. I think they look the best. There is no doubt. I just have concern with the maintenance and the fact you can’t put a lifetime warranty on them because they can deteriorate. So wood in our market… Although, I do have to say one thing though, because we’ll talk about this more next week, Pella recently put a lifetime warranty on their real wood interior products, so that’s the first.
RC: That’s new. I was at Pella tour not too long ago, they put that out there, so I have to look a little further into it as far as everything that it covers, I’ll take a closer look before next week. They do have a lifetime warranty now. It’s the only wood window that I know of, that puts a lifetime warranty on it. So there is a change there from the first time I wrote these blogs where every single wood window has a 10-20 warranty. That’s it, 20 on the glass, 10 on everything else. Pella is saying, no longer. So we’ll see what… And I know they do treat their wood, they have a treating process where they’re trying to get the, obviously the least amount of deterioration, so there are discussions about that about how it affects the staining of it and things like that, but they’re definitely wanting to make that type of wood window that you can feel more confident in lasting longer.
TM: One quick question for you, Ryan, is a lifetime warranty the same across these different manufacturers, or is it different for each brand?
RC: Yeah, it’s different. Most of the ones that I work with, or the ones that have the lifetime warranty, it’s covering everything, it’s covering your seal failures, it’s covering… Again, for people who don’t know what seal failure is, where the glass hits the spacer, you end up with that seal being compromised, and so moisture can get in between the two panes of glass. All of a sudden your glass is cloudy, you have moisture in between the two panes of glass and you can’t get at it. You can’t clean it from either side, so that’s a seal failure. And most companies are covering that for 20 years, and the lifetime and the vinyl or the fibre-glass or the ones that are lifetime. So, and then how the…
TM: What is lifetime? Is that 20, 30, 40 years?
RC: Yeah, as long as you are living there, as long as you’re the original owner, and then some of these are transferable to the next home owner, and then that’s when a limit comes on, so as long as you’re staying in your house… And of course, this is a pretty basic calculation of, “We’re gonna give people lifetime warranties, how long or how long do people live in their houses,” because that’s how long it’s covered. As soon as you move, then a lot of them go to like a 20-year or a… From the beginning, but as long as you’re the original owner, if you just bought a house and you’re 20 years old and you’re gonna live there till you’re 80, They’re probably gonna give you windows at some point, ’cause they probably won’t last for 60 years. They’re doing the calculation there. But yeah, everything is covered, in that situation except storm damage, stuff like that, that type of thing. Any major hail hits it, things like that, but as far as how it operates, those are guaranteed along with the glass and hardware, everything like that.
RC: So you got that covered. And then if you use a contractor that has a lifetime on the labor, which is important as well, and a contractor who’s been around for a while, then everything is getting taken care of, ’cause a lot of companies will just, they’ll have a limited warranty on the labor, but then they’ll have a lifetime on the window, but then the window company says, “Well, these weren’t installed right, and you went past your one year labor Warranty, or you went past your five-year labor warranty, and so too bad, you’re paying a service charge for this.” So those are things to think about, what the warranty is. That’s the basic gist of it, for the materials that you can make windows out of, I don’t know did you wanna talk about the methods as well, since this was materials and methods?
RS: We’ve gotta take a stop, we’re running along on the show that we will have more to talk about next week. And if we don’t have time, we are gonna talk about the big three, well, then we’ll do so far, and we’ll talk about it more then.
RC: Yeah, ’cause the methods were more of the inserts versus the full frames and sashes and all of that, and so yeah, that’s a whole topic in itself.
RS: Yeah, I don’t wanna cut that short.
TM: Yeah. I’ve got questions for you about that, so…
RS: Alright, cool, Ryan, if anybody wants to get a hold of you to get quotes on their house for windows, siding, roofing, any of that stuff, how can they get a hold of you?
RC: Yeah, so they can email me directly, email@example.com and that’s the number three, firstname.lastname@example.org the website is getmythreequotes.com.
RS: Perfect. Excellent. And if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please email us or email us email@example.com. Otherwise, I am Reuben Saltzman for Cesare signing off. Thank you so much for listening. Take care.