I talk to a lot of homeowners. When the topic is windows, the number one concern they have is if “these are good windows?” I understand their trepidation. Windows are something most people purchase maybe once in their lives. Even as a “window expert,” I’m hard pressed to describe specifically what would make one particular window “better” than another.
I want to help educate customers and address their concerns, but at the same time; U-Values, the number of air chambers in a frame, and the balance system a manufacturer uses are far too esoteric for most customers to appreciate. So what is a good window and why do customers have such a fear of picking the wrong one?
Let’s start with the fear part. Customers don’t want to get taken advantage of or make a bad choice. The ramifications can be financially and emotionally painful, and contractors have hardly earned a reputation for being customer advocates. Online information is scarce, and what does exist is frequently superficial or biased.
So how do we get past the fear, and what does make a window good? Well, here are some pieces of advice I tell every customer who asks this question:
- Don’t let an in-home sales person trick you into thinking that their “special window” is worth the cost. Their job is to get your business, and the easiest way to do this is to feed on your fears about quality. They will tell you that their super expensive window is special and that all the other windows are garbage. Well, don’t fall for it because...
- Most name brand windows are extremely similar. A dirty secret in the window industry is that most manufacturers get components from similar suppliers. Sure, there are small differences in design and features, but they are mostly all starting with the same quality materials. Further, they have nothing to gain by offering a substandard product that they will lose money servicing after it’s in a customer’s home.
- Warranty matters but only if you believe in the company. We work with brands like Harvey, Pella and Andersen. These are all companies who take tremendous pride in their products and invest heavily in warranty service departments. Many manufacturers share these values, but some do not. The ones who don’t usually sell the “low end” products you see being sold well below market prices. These manufacturers come and go, and unfortunately, their warranties are worthless once they do.
- Most of all, the contractor you work with matters. Any reputable company (ie. has great online reviews on sites like Yelp and Angie’s List) would never risk their reputation by selling a poor product. Further, great contractors will take pride in being certified installers for the brands they sell or, even better, are Installation Master certified. The fact that they care enough to even go through these extra steps speaks to their commitment to quality. This is critical because a lower quality window with proper installation will probably last a long time, but the “best” windows improperly installed will cause problems from day 1.
So “is this a good window?” is probably not the right question to ask. The right questions are probably:
- Do I like this window’s looks and features?
- Is the the price I’m paying reasonable? Do I feel confident I’m getting a good deal but not buying something cheap? If someone is pressuring you to sign now, this is likely a bad sign!
- Is this a company with a brand I recognize and believe will be around 20 years from now?
- Is the company installing the windows certified and do they have a great reputation?
If you get the right answers to these questions, chances are, you are getting a “good window.”