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Replacement Window Reviews

Replacement Window Reviews: Find out what Consumer Reports has to say about replacement windows

Using replacement window reviews to help you in your search for replacement windows for your house can be very helpful. There is one industry leader in product reviews that everyone turns to when it comes time to compare products: Consumer Reports.

The magazine conducted a test and published the results in the October 2007 version of the magazine. The replacement window reviews that were published will give you a clear picture of your options available and how to purchase them for your house.


What they Tested

The Consumer Reports replacement window reviews focused primarily on the performance of the windows in three areas: wind and rain resistance, durability and convenience. The wind resistance test measures the windows ability to prevent 25 mph winds from infiltrating the windows at outdoor temperatures of zero and seventy degrees (F). Rain resistance measures their ability to keep out heavy rains.

The durability score was determined by measuring how well the window stood up to severe wind and rain exposure after a week long exposure to extreme temperature changes. The final category, convenience, determines how easy the window is to open and close, how easily its sashes tilt in for cleaning, and if the window had any helpful features.

Consumer Reports tested 19 replacement windows over several months in an outside lab to determine the final scores for the windows.


The big picture results

In the tests conducted, wood and fiberglass windows were the highest scoring overall according to the final replacement window reviews. The windows held up well to the wind and water tests and maintained their performance after a weeks worth of extreme temperature changes.

Why the extreme temperature changes? The change in temperature causes the window unit to expand and contract. Over time this expansion and contraction process will loosen the caulk and weatherstrip seals and create wind or water infiltration. By testing the windows under these extreme conditions you can get a really good idea of how it is going to hold up long term in your home.

If you are looking for vinyl windows for your home, Consumer Reports tested them as well. (With vinyl windows making up about half of the window replacement market you should expect the replacement window reviews to include vinyl.) While vinyl windows tend to leak a bit more air in colder climates, you may be willing to overlook this for the cost savings and low maintenance you get with a vinyl window.


The Overall Choices

Well did you come here for replacement window reviews or did you come here for replacement window reviews? Based on Consumer Reports the following windows were determined as best overall quick pics: (These are not necessarily the best scoring windows, but Consumer Reports chooses them out of the crowd.)

Andersen 400 Series Tilt Wash

Pella Proline

Andersen 200 Series Tilt Wash

Pella Impervia

The Window Replacement Experts will agree that the four windows listed above are all very good windows to choose for any home. However, not all of them are suited for a replacement window project. The Andersen 200 and the Pella Proline are both only available in standard sizes. This means that unless you have an opening to fit exactly to the window size, you will have to modify the opening in the house to fit a standard size window. (Trust us, it is worth the little bit extra to get windows to fit exact to the existing opening.)

The Pella Impervia is an excellent replacement window (Available in special sizes), but it is not a clad wood product. Instead it uses a fiberglass type material called Duracast to create a strong frame material that will last a long time. It is extremely durable, very strong and less expensive than wood.

The bottom line: as far as the overall replacement window reviews published by Consumer Reports goes, the Andersen 400 is the best pick for an aluminum clad wood windows. However, if you are looking for something low maintenance and high performing, the Pella Impervia is the window of choice.

The replacement window reviews for vinyl found that the Reliabilt vinyl window and the American Craftsman both scored tops in the vinyl category of windows. According to the replacement window reviews, they finished middle of the pack for overall ratings, but are considered Consumer Reports Best Buys for vinyl windows. The good news about this is that you can find both windows at the box stores. Lowe’s carries Reliabilt and Home Depot carries American Craftsman.

Remember, you do not have to have the box stores install the product if you choose to buy the replacement windows from them. Check with local installation companies to do the work and have them purchase the windows for you if you are not comfortable with the big box installation crews.


The Ratings: Clad-Wood

The replacement window reviews for 2007 have the Marvin Clad Ultimate scoring at the top of the list. Out of a 100 ranking the window scored an 88. The one area where the window only scored good (all other areas were excellent) was convenience. It is available in full replacement, partial replacement and custom sizes. While it scored the highest overall it was also one of the most expensive windows as well coming in around $400. You can be sure based on the replacement window reviews in the report, it might just be worth the money.

The lowest scoring clad-wood window was the Jeld Wen Premium Wood Tradition Plus. Out of a possible score of 100 the window scored a 50. It had poor marks in the wind resistance category for cold weather so if you live in a cold climate you might want to avoid this window. If you live in warmer climates, all other areas measured the window as very good so don’t completely discount it as an option when you are shopping. Just be aware there are other windows that cost about the same as the Jeld Wen ($360) that scored higher in the Consumer Reports replacement window reviews.

To second of the top three clad-wood windows, Marvin’s Wood Ultrex Integrity window scored second with an 87. It is limited to a full replacement offering only and costs about $315 on average. This window differs from the others because it is made of a fiberglass based clad material with a wood interior as opposed to a vinyl or aluminum exterior finish.

Finally, the third best window in the replacement window reviews is the Andersen 400 Series. With an overall score of 85 it is close to the score of the Marvin windows. However, it scored a poor rating in the convenience testing which could mean operational difficulty in the future. It is competitively priced, with most other windows tested, at $350.


The Ratings: Vinyl

The replacement window reviews for the vinyl products tested had the Reliabilt window finishing first. While the overall score of 73 is not has high as the top wood window rankings, it leads the vinyl product. While the vinyl windows may not offer as much in the way of looks and performance compared to the clad-wood windows, the $180 looks attractive when you are trying to upgrade your house without downgrading your savings account.

Alside Ultra Maxx Finished second with a total score of 70. It scored a poor rating on the rain resistance test, but finished with very good or excellent ratings in all other categories. The $395 price tag seems a bit steep for a vinyl window, but the quality and look may be what you are looking for in your project.

At the bottom of the list is the Pella Thermastar 25 series vinyl window. It received poor ratings in the wind resistance testing, but very good or excellent in the other tests. The window is competitively priced at $215 per window, and comes with the strength of the Pella name behind it. Even though the replacement window reviews only scored it a 44 out of 100, it is still a good buy.


The Ratings: Fiberglass

Consumer Reports only tested one Fiberglass window, the Impervia. This product was rated 87 out of 100 and is right in line with scoring on the top rated clad-wood windows. The Impervia held up well in all categories, scoring an excellent rating in wind resistance and durability. The fiberglass frame product delivers a superior product and excellent performance. Consumer Reports states that the Imervia window is only available in standard sizes and thus difficult to use in a replacement setting. The Window Replacement Experts wants to point out that this statement was incorrect. The Impervia window is available in special sizes and makes an excellent choice for replacement windows on any project.



The above information was provided directly from the October 2007 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. While we do not completely dissect the report here, you should have enough information about the replacement window reviews. Research your replacement windows using the replacement window reviews as your guide, but do not let them dictate the ultimate testing agent, you.


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