glider/slider windows: try before you buy

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A cautionary tale and call for advice:
I'm doing a full tear out replacement with aluminum clad wood windows.
Some research on the internet turned up Marvin, Weathershield, Jeld-Wen, Hurd, Semco, Loewen, Peachtree, and Kolbe as making aluminum-clad wood gliders/sliders.
In the process of vetting about 10 installers in the DC area and hitting window showrooms, Home Depot, real lumber yards, I had never encountered an actual glider until today. What I heard is "the construction is very similar to this double hung I can show you", which was sometimes accompanied by the salesman turning the double-hung sideways and moving it back and forth, saying "see?"
Well, it's not the same, to state the obvious. To begin with, in a slider, gravity pushes the window against the track, but in a DH, gravity pulls it across the track! Furthermore, confirming by inspection that a company makes a good double-hung does *not* indicate they make a good glider.
For example, I thought the DH Weathershields I had seen were passable, but I finally tracked down a Weathershield glider today and what a piece of garbage it was! Standing directly in front of the window, I had difficulty getting it to slide open. First it was hard to budge and second once it budged it kept bucking -- catching on the leading edge and rising up on the trailing edge. Plus the cladding job was abysmal.
OTOH, I leapfrogged the local Marvin showroom, where they don't have a glider, to visit the one in Northern Virginia where they do have one, and it's as well-made as everything else by Marvin, for whom I do not work nor do I derive direct or indirect benefit from plugging them. Part of the reason for the smooth operation is the fiberglass strip inside the groove in the base of the window that runs along the track. What's more, I called Marvin HQ and a nice Minnesotan spent twenty minutes on the phone with me explaining the finer points of their construction, gave me his name and direct number and told me to call back anytime.
After calling dealers listed on their websites, I've concluded the rest of the clowns mentioned above don't bother making examples of their full line of products available in the DC area.
If anyone knows differently and can point me to a showroom, I'd be delighted to check them out. I'd love to discover I have options for a decent aluminum-clad wood slider other than Marvin, since Marvins are very dear, but I have to be able to hold the competitor in my hands. I won't drop $20K installing a product in my house sight unseen.
Cheers,
ccs>ikyr
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is it possible they are not common to your climate due to condensation, freezing, or ocean salt air corrosion?
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buffalobill wrote:

Nope. Washington DC isn't known for excessive amounts of those things.
The more likely explanation is that the market for good gliders is small. My neighborhood is full of 50's houses that were built with all-metal aluminum gliders. Most of them have been replaced, and I don't know of a single example of a house that didn't use solid vinyl replacement windows. Among houses that use windows based on wood, the dominant choice around here is double hung. So companies that blow off the wood glider market are following a certain economic logic.
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

Why only aluminum clad? The Andersen vinyl clad glider is a very nice window. Very tight.
R
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Dealer's choice.
I don't doubt Andersen makes a decent product, but I'm skeptical of vinyl in general.
Over time, after a beating from wind and rain, I think aluminum will hold it's shape better than vinyl. There are examples all over my neighborhood of vinyl windows coming apart, not even five years after installation. Granted, they aren't Andersen.
I'm open to persuasion, though.
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One thing to think about is resale - which product is better for that. In my neck of the woods, AL doors and windows go on mostly lower end homes - exception being clad AL. A lot of higher end homes are using the better vinyl windows. Unfortunately there is a lot of vinyl junk out there. One of the better pure vinyl windows/sliding doors in Vinylcrest's top line. Beware they also make a lot of builder crap also. Kolbe is mostly builder crap.
I really question the durability of wood clad with either vinyl or aluminum. Most of it I have seen is not sealed on the unseen surfaces - windows sweat - wood soaks it up and then you have mildew and rot. What is a person to do.
Oh I would specifically avoid any local vinyl/aluminum fabricator - they have all kinds of deals with local installers. Find your own installer - when you go through someone like HD - they take 40% of the installation up front leaving the installer scraping to make a living from what is left forcing him to cut corners to survive.
good luck
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Good tips. Thanks.
On the resale issue, I expect a decent aluminum clad would beat a vinyl replacement window. The clads typically go on high-end homes around here, as in "overlooks championship golf course". That's not the kind of house I have, by any stretch, so if anything, I'm putting in a window too rich for the neighborhood and won't get all the money back, I expect.
Interesting point about local fabricators, and I wouldn't let HD install a doorbell, let alone a window.
I've heard a couple stories about rot on aluminum clad, particularly with regard to Pella. That, in fact, is what I was talking to the Marvin guy in Minnesota about. My reasoning was the aluminum cladding will be subject to the same temperature gradient as the aluminum in my old solid aluminum windows. That is, cold air outside, warm air inside => condensation. And the condensation will be hidden inside the cladding where it will rot out the wood and I'll never see it! His response, which I am inclined to believe, absent a reason not to, is that the air on *both* sides of the cladding is cold, so there should be no condensation. The air pocket between the cladding and the wood window is not warm. Regardless, if there is any rot, the windows have a 20 year guarantee.
If anyone can poke a hole in that reasoning, I'm all ears.
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On the issue of durability, Consumer Reports, October 2000 rated windows on durability, among other things, where
durability "indicates how well the windows performed after two weeks of severe temperature fluctuations and intermittent spraying with water"
The only windows that were rated "excellent" were Marvin aluminum clad, Pozzi aluminum clad, and Andersen Millenium (which evidently is the Renewal line -- vinyl/wood composite)
Notes on almost all the other windows include "some parts warped or loosened in durability tests". This includes Pella and Caradco aluminum clad, Andersen and Weathershield vinyl clad, and all solid vinyl windows except Weathershield, Alside, and Certainteed.
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

I don't understand what that test equates to in the real world. Two weeks is hardly a test for something meant to last decades. Consumer Reports tests paints and deck stains for year(s) to see how they hold up, and yet they test windows for two weeks? A ridiculous amount of extrapolation points to a meaningless test.
What does severe temperature fluctuations mean exactly? I live in an area where 0 degrees and 100 degrees are not uncommon - they never happen in the same season, much less the same day.
What does intermittent spraying with water mean? Window manufacturers subject their windows to water tests with hurricane force winds.
I think Consumer Reports is a great publication - a great service. But unless you've edited out a lot of information in your synopsis, the results are not relevant as the test is just bizarre.
R
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Well, if two weeks was enough for some of the windows to warp or get loose and others didn't, then it appears we can learn something from the test.
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

Not necessarily. It's a false positive (or negative) if the test is flawed. Testing for something the system wasn't designed to handle isn't testing the system.
Suppose I took a garden hose and sprayed the water up under your shingles. The roof would leak. Does that say anything about the shingles? I don't think it does.
R
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A false positive is not the same thing as a flawed test. All test statistics have statistical properties and when you pick a threshhold to indicate positive, you are picking a probability you'll indicate "positive" when in fact the true state of the world is "negative" -- a false positive. OTOH, a "flawed test" simply doesn't provide information about the subject of interest, like your absurd garden hose example.
Consumer Reports is not going to provide us with any more detail than I gave on the test. Beyond that description, you either trust them or you don't, as you see fit. I tend to think there's actual information in their ratings. They have a lot to lose if they construct a flawed test. I don't recall seeing window companies objecting to the evaluations when I googled "consumer reports and windows". They do note in the article that window "makers participating in a program run by the Insulated Glass Certification Council subject insulated glass to tests that expose the glazing and its seals to heat, cold and water. Glazing that passes three test segments earns a "CBA" mark, etched in the corner of the glass." Sounds like that industry group evaluates glass and seals using a method similar to Consumer Reports. Sounds like you don't trust them. So be it. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Cheers.
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

It was meant to be absurd. It was meant to show that testing a system for something it was not designed for is not testing the system. I said that.

Okay...I haven't read the report. You have. I'm not sure why a testing procedure wouldn't have its specifications listed. Two week duration. That's a specification. Intermittantly sprayed water is not a specification - it's a very loose description.

Of course, but the question is, does the information have relevance for what I need a window to do?

I wrote: "I think Consumer Reports is a great publication - a great service. But unless you've edited out a lot of information in your synopsis, the results are not relevant as the test is just bizarre." I don't see how that could possibly be construed to mean I don't trust them.
I was merely asking what "severe temperature fluctuations" means. It may mean 30 below zero to 150 above in an hour - I have no idea. Both ends of that spectrum are meaningless to me in my climate. Windows are designed for longevity, trying to force a test to have failures (how else could you determine the winners and losers?) in two weeks means something fairly extreme is going on. I'd like to know specifically what the extremes are. I don't think it's really asking a lot if I am to give credence to anyone's testing procedure. The "intermittent spraying with water" also needs clarification. Spraying doesn't necessarily indicate anything at all about the amount of water and the pressure.
I don't take anything on blind faith, and I don't happen to feel that CR is an unquestionable authority. I don't subscribe to CR, so this is all I found in a quick Google:
"How to choose Performance differences. Consumer Reports has found most windows do a very good or excellent job at sealing out a fairly strong wind when the outside thermometer registers 70 F. Only a handful do well at sealing out a high wind when the outside temperature drops to zero. When it's that cold, weather stripping and other components can stiffen or shrink. Our tests have shown that aluminum frames are durable. But we have found windows with frames made of vinyl- or aluminum-clad wood can perform well, too. Recommendations. If you're replacing windows, choose those that are designed for your region's climate. Cooling costs predominate in southern regions, so look for double glazing and a low-E coating. Give first consideration to windows with a low solar-heat-gain coefficient. The Department of Energy recommends that the number be 0.4 or lower."
There are specifics in that. 70 degrees vs. 0 degrees, for example. I'm more interested in the 70 degrees as the 0 degrees is a lot rarer around here. My personal experience also counts for something - at least to me. If I hit an aluminum clad window frame with a bat, in any weather, that dent will be there forever. If I hit a vinyl clad window with a bat on a 70 degree day, it won't do much of anything, while on a 0 degree day the vinyl will almost certainly crack (don't hit vinyl windows with bats in very cold weather).
R
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I understand what you're saying.
I do think it's worthwhile to use a rule of thumb that the CR people are not doing something absurd, based on their track record. Faith? sure. Blind? no. Always correct? no. Do I sound like Don Rumsfeld? you bet.
Thanks very much for your thoughts on windows.
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

A sure sign of intelligence.
I'm working on a project right now that has 25 year old Andersens. No problem getting replacement hardware, screens, whatever. That's a major benefit if you plan on staying in the house for years. The vinyl has the color throughout and is clad over wood. On some of the windows painters had slopped some paint on the vinyl, old caulking had to be removed to install new flashing, etc. With the vinyl I can be pretty heavy handed and just scrape the old paint and caulk off. I clean up the last remnants by scraping a razor blade along the vinyl. The end result is a clean, white window. Try doing that with aluminum and you'll have a clean mill finish aluminum window.
I don't think Andersen is the "best" window out there, but I think it has a good price point and the widespread use and long history are major benefits. Check out an Andersen glider in person, they're nothing like the casements or doublehungs. Much beefier.
R
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ccs>ikyr wrote:

problems, no whistles no cleaning[or even washing, or is that TMI] and they open no problem. they were bought through a neighbor who sells them and siding, i bought one more for an addition, and I shoulda bought all of them there as they cost a fraction of the Andersons the architect spec'd. I 'think' the guy has a Marvin sign up, but there aren't any labels on the window that I have noticed
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Why use sliders, they are poor by design as you see, tracks get ditry in a week. Casements are a proven design, with a positive air seal, they have less air infiltration due to the pulled tight design. Air infiltration is usualy overlooked in ratings but accounts for half of heat loss on old windows. Check ratings, learn the ratings, everything is rated independantly on good windows.
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m Ransley wrote:

I can't comment on sliding windows in general, but I can tell you that no window I've ever installed pulls and seals tighter than the Andersen gliders. It's more energy efficient due to it's tightness and lower air infiltration - check the ratings.
R
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Andersen gliders do not seal any better than any others. If you go to nfrc.org and check out the thermal performance for ANYONE's casement windows, they will seal better than any slider/ glider.
Also, most glider/sliders wind up with water in the inside tracks some time or other. If water gets in, so will air.
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D4 wrote:

Thermal performance, U-Value, and air infiltration are two different animals. I was primarily talking about the window seal and air infiltration. I just visited the NFRC site and didn't see any information on air infiltration - just U-values. Where can I find that information on that site?
R
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