How do I buy windows with a small w
October 29, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe

How do I buy windows? The kind that go in your house. That you can see out of.

We're doing an extensive remodel and we need new windows. How do I do this? Do you buy them one at a time? All at once? Can you find a style you like and order most of them but then add a couple more later if you need them? And where do you buy windows? The local Home Depot or Lowe's? A special window place? The Internet?

We just need simple, energy-efficient vinyl windows, nothing fancy. The windows we currently have and need to replace are single-pane aluminum windows, many of which have cracks in them, of various sizes and descriptions (some are sliders, some are sashes, some are just big panes (picture windows).
posted by rabbitrabbit to Shopping (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can buy them at a Home Despot-type store or at a special 'Windows and Doors' place (there are tons of them in my area).

I asked around my friends and got the name of a remodeling contractor. He had no-name vinyl windows manufactured in the sizes that I needed (you will have to decide how much you want to spend on efficiency, and the type you get should also depend on your local climate --- whether you spend more days with the air on or the heat on, amount of sunlight, etc). Ours were were $500 each and are good (but not great) efficiency-wise.
posted by goethean at 9:46 AM on October 29, 2011

I bought windows at a glass shop (as goethean says, there are dozens of them, with names like "Bob's Glass Shop" or "Acme Windows and Doors"). They had everything from super basic to ultra fancy; you could select how energy efficient the glass was, what kind of latches, etc. Any competent small contractor can do the installation, and most glass shops offer installation as well. I looked at windows at Home Depot, but the people there didn't seem particularly competent and were pushing the upsell super hard; even better, the small shop was cheaper.

I paid a bit extra for extra efficiency, but that was more than repaid in rebates from a utility company -- check your local utilities to see what their criteria are. In my case, paying about $20 extra for fancier glass meant that the windows qualified for a significant rebate. I don't remember what the total cost was, but it was surprisingly cheap, maybe a couple hundred dollars each for large windows, plus the cost of installation.
posted by Forktine at 9:55 AM on October 29, 2011

Go into a Home Depot or Lowes and ask them all the questions you asked here. They can give you a "Windows 101" education fairly quickly, pros and cons of various options, etc, and then you can take it from there. (Yes, you can buy windows one at a time)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:04 AM on October 29, 2011

New windows let you claim an energy efficient tax credit. I would certainly look into that. Any place that you buy your windows from will be able to tell you about it.
posted by myselfasme at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2011

Best answer: I second what everyone else has been saying, but I would also make sure to get quotes from several providers. I replaced windows and doors this summer, and Home Depot was by far the most expensive option.
posted by Nightman at 10:51 AM on October 29, 2011

Don't be sucked in to those $750.00 replacement windows. You no the one, they advertise on TV etc. a good double glazed E glass vinyl window can be custom fit at the Lowes or Home Depot. ( I think they'll even measure for you) for about $200 to 250 each. even cheaper depending on size.
posted by Gungho at 11:09 AM on October 29, 2011

[my price above included installation]
posted by goethean at 11:29 AM on October 29, 2011

Don't buy from a place that sends a suit-wearing sale rep to your home. Such visits can be mildly educational but the windows will be overpriced. EnergyStar windows from Home Depot should be fine. I'd be cautious about Lowe's; they just abruptly closed a few stores in this area. They may not be around to back up their product.
posted by gentian at 11:31 AM on October 29, 2011

There are cheaper window/door shops that will send a guy out to give a quote and offer suggestions. Try a couple to compare. It was one of the easiest aspects of our remodeling work. The guy giving the quote takes measurements and a month or so later a truck shows up and a crew of Russian commandos remove your old window and pop in a new one. Installation should cover any flashing or caulking needed.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, guess I should have said this is a DIY project, we'll be installing ourselves. I'm thinking we'll window shop (heh) at HD or Lowes then try and comparison shop once we find what we want. Noise reduction is not an issue (we live out in the boonies) but energy savings is.

Bonus question: can anyone in Portland recommend a good window retailer?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:06 PM on October 29, 2011

In our area Habitat for Humanity sells new windows that are surplus or overstock or whatever (I think they've been donated). You have to measure carefully and wait for ones that fit your rough openings, but you can save a LOT of money.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2011

Best answer: In Portland I have used Truax building supply (110th and SE Division) for the last decade. I was a remodel contractor an these guys have good products, super knowledgeable sales people, they deliver and do in house repair and custom screens.

If you have any budget at all I would avoid HD or Lowes windows. Milgard is the best lower end vinyl window brand. Tons of options and lifetime warranty and they actually will just come out and fix the window on the spot if you call.

If you have more money then you want Marvin windows. totally top notch. efficient, stain grade wood interiors, powdercoated clad aluminum exteriors, simplest installation process, etc, etc.

Just my 2 cents. (but I have installed a shitload of windows) if you need any further advice just let me know.
posted by ijustwantyourhalf at 6:50 PM on October 29, 2011

There might be energy-efficiency loans, tax exemptions, or energy audits available to help you make the best decisions about home energy renovations. Worth check on, at least.
posted by theora55 at 8:42 AM on October 30, 2011

We just got two very lightly used windows for $40 each at our local building supply resale place in SF. They still had the frames on, too!

If you have some sort of place that recycles building materials in Portland, I'd say check it out. We were amazed at how cheap the windows were -- we were budgeting for far more than that.
posted by vickyverky at 6:32 PM on October 30, 2011

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