Cheap Windows. It's a fact that there are cheap windows. Builders Grade windows are a prime example. Builders only warrantee their home for one year and a window that lasts longer than that is a perceived waste of money to that builder. Even when you have your builder upgrade their window offering it usually is an improved version of the builders grade, but it is seldom up to the quality of a mid range replacement window. Cheap windows are usually aluminum or vinyl. They are usually fairly thin framed at 2 3/8 to 2 3/4" thick from inside to outside which is almost one inch thinner than a mid ranged unit. Energy Star requires that Low E Glass be used in all residential window installations. Cheap windows are available from numerous sources like lumber stores and hardware stores and start in cost at around $180 to $280 with another $100 in labor to install. This is usually only a good option for those persons selling the property and in instances when there is little concern for the longevity of the windows. Windows that fall into this catagory include the following: General Aluminum Windows, Danvid Windows, Atrium Windows, Pella Vinyl Windows, Jeldwen Vinyl Windows, Andersen Vinyl Windows, MI Industries Vinyl Windows, Dakota Windows, Burris and Associates Vinyl Windows, and Maritech Vinyl Windows. When looking over the cost of windows these are the ones that get priced the most but much like the cheapest car at the car lot, it may not perform very well long term. Performance will usually test at .30 U Value and .28 to .20 for SHGC, at least initially. Jeldwen Vinyl Windows for example tend to cost around $300 plus tax and needed materials. Once installed, its cost is actually somewhere near mid ranged cost but the reviews on the window itself are less than stellar.
Mid ranged windows usually have a thicker 3 1/4" frame with a capability of accomidating triple glazing and Krypton Gas. They will usually have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer and will have steel or aluminum reinforcement on the horizontal rails. Very often there are options that help as well like foam filling or foam wrapping included in the cost of windows. When glazed with a double paned Low E - Argon Gas glass package this will be a great performer and will last for decades with little to no maintenance. Mid ranged windows generally start at $300 and move towards $500 each with an additional $100 for labor. This option very often will include some specialty windows like archtops, circle tops or casement style replacement windows. Windows that fall into this category include Alside Excalibur Windows, NT Windows (Energy Master, Presidential and Executive), Don Young Company Earthwise Windows and Lansing Windjammer Vinyl Windows. Many window manufacturers have a "good, better, best" type product offering. While they are often increasing in quality, they are seldom builders, mid range and high end. Our expertise helps you know which one is which and we bring samples to show you visually the differences. Ultimately it's best to just have hands on experience with a product to know it best. We do that too! When looking for a value point in the cost of windows mid range windows are usually the best but and the better value long term than cheap windows in spite of the cost of windows in general. Performance for mid range windows is usually .30 to .28 U Value, .22 to .20 for SHGC. Here's a great chart showing mid ranged units at around $450 after tax and permits, haul off etc. Homewyse.com
High End Windows would include all wood windows, vinyl windows with triple glazing and Krypton Gas or vinyl windows with simulated divided lite grids. You will also be in this cost bracket with two toned windows and wood grained interior windows. Wood windows are full jambed products and consist of a great deal more wood than one would initially think. The thickness of the frame is upwards of 5 1/2 inches and it's cost runs from $700 to $1200 plus labor for installation. Wood window costs are usually $1000 to $1500 per window and an archtop or circle top can be in the $2500 range for the window with $500 needed for labor. Needless to say, wood windows are expensive. Moving to High End Vinyl we see that the superior glazing package of Triple Glazing adds about $100 to the cost of a mid ranged product. Krypton Gas is the same at around $100 per window. This $200 increase in window cost over the mid range price structure puts the high performing vinyl at around $700 plus the installation cost of $100. Simulated Divided Lite Grids are another option that is expensive. SDL Grids run about $20 PER LITE. In the case of a three foot by six foot window with nine over six grids, we see 15 lites at $20 each for a $300 additional charge. This runs the triple glazed, krypton vinyl window up to the $1000 mark plus installation, to find us at $1100 installed. Pretty pricey but an amazing window at that price point. Performance for high end units goes like this: Wood tests out at passing Energy Star Requirements with .30 U value and .29 SHGC. Triple Glazed Vinyl with Krypton are the Ferrari's with a U Value at .18 and a SHGC at .21 to .20.
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