Questions about thermal windows.


1. Around here, wood windows cost more than double the price of vinyl. What is the reason?
2. I have lovely old fir windows that are fine, except they only hold a single thickness of glass. Has there been anybody who has succeeded in converting such windows into thermal, dual-pane windows without adding flying buttresses? There is plenty of sill, in good condition.
3. If we do replace the windows, the local guy recommends Therm-o-proof vinyl windows manufactured by Therm-o-proof Manufacturing in Chemainus, BC. Local company, good idea ... anybody have experience with these windows?
4. What is the expected lifetime of vinyl windows? Our current wood windows are about 70 years old. What breaks down first, the vinyl, the mechanisms in operable windows, or the glass units themselves? Or All of the Above?
Thanks.
--
Jonathan Berry


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I moved into this house 20 years ago and the first thing I did was to replace the old steel frame casement windows with vinyl replacement windows. It cost about $200 each installed and I thought that was fairly reasonable.
Now, I'm replacing the vinyl units with Andersen vinyl coated wood windows. The Andersen windows are about $300 each for just the window. I am getting good at installing them. The trim pieces required add to the cost but I get a better looking job than I see from some of the slap-dash installers.
If I were younger, I would start a company to make replacement double-pane panes for old windows. That's a great idea.
My intuition says vinyl windows will last a long time. I have the ones I removed stacked along the back side of the house. I'll probably reuse them in a shed or something. They don't show any aging after 20 years.
One negative about vinyl: they attract dirt. All plastic does. So if you have full house air conditioning/heating, you don't have to worry. But they certainly do attract all the pollen and dirt in the air.
Another caution is that vinyl windows have a very thick frame. Mine are about 2.5 inches on every side. That cuts down on the viewing area. I didn't think it would matter, but it does. So, go look at somebody's house that has vinyl replacement windows in it.
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Thanks, Stubby !
Looks like your new vinyl-coated wood windows are less than 2x as expensive as vinyl windows, so that deepens the mystery of why the wood-only windows are so expensive ... unless it's simply that bonding the glass units to the frame is the tricky bit. If the vinyl coating is shaped to form the seal to the glass units, that would be it.
So ... why did you replace the old vinyl windows if they are A-OK ?
The Therm-o-proof windows have a wide "rebate flange", a flat area that runs parallel to the glass, but outside the house to allow good contact area with the siding (or in our case the existing wood of the multi-window units), I presume for better support and sealing. I don't have any figures, but perhaps a wider rebate flange allows them to use a slightly narrower margin. Since the wood frames that would be coming out already have a width of close to 2 inches, I don't think that the amount of light coming in will change much.
Aside from questions of longevity, our other problem is the "look" of the vinyl windows. Somehow, wooden windows, even if they need a coat of paint, tend to look OK, but vinyl windows tend to look ugly. Wood siding looks good; vinyl siding, even when it is "grained", looks like vinyl siding. I wish it weren't so.
We don't normally walk about looking critically at houses, but my wife and I have strolled in Nanaimo and Vancouver, where the typical housing stock is say 0 to 60 years old, and your typical house tends to have ugly windows. The worst looking are the old aluminum sliders, vinyl looks a bit better but never great, and the best looking are the old wood windows in varying states of disrepair. Commercial buildings and houses that have been retrofitted to be restaurants tend to have better looking (thermal) picture windows. The only things visible from inside or out is the wood that holds the window in place, the glass, and a thin metal strip embedded in the frame between the dual panes of glass. I wonder if they can't do that for residences.
So I want to reduce the winter heating bill with more efficient windows, but if beauty and longevity "go out the window", I throw hands up in despair. It was good to hear your experience of good longevity with your vinyl windows.
-- Jonathan Berry
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We didn't order any windows. Imagine my surprise, then, when on Monday night the window installer that we got the quote from, phones to say that the windows are ready, is Wednesday OK to install?
I suppose that he might simply have made a mistake, confused his "quotes" stack with his "orders" stack. Or maybe somebody left a message on his answer machine but is going to be window-free this winter. But I wonder, is it a common thing in the windows biz to, ah, rush the client in this way? And how do I find out if he has a track record of doing this? Is there a better try than a phone call to the Better Business Bureau?
-- Jonathan Berry
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