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Best Replacement Windows
CR.org has asked us to take down all information regarding their ratings that we have complied for consumers. If you have any questions regarding any windows, simply email us and we will give you a very candid assess.
Have a question for our site editors, Dane and Tim? Email them and let them answer your specific project questions. Make sure to include your email address so they can get back to you directly (we never use or sell your email, we promise.)
Please note, our website is not affiliated with CR.org in any way.
Limitations Of CR
While CR provide a valuable resource for many consumers who are looking for unbiased information on home windows, they do have some limitations. For one, they only review units available at retail stores - the majority of top replacement windows are sold through distributors or reps and are not available in stores. This means the sampling is incomplete, especially in the vinyl window market, which accounts for over 50% of the entire window replacement market. As an example, our top 10 picks for vinyl windows (both company and model), do not appear anywhere in the CR listings - because they are not available directly to the consumer.
The other limitation has to do with cost. The retail cost listed on their site is similar to a sticker price for a car. It does not reflect any add ons or upgrades that homeowners will often opt for such as an upgraded glass package. Nor do it include the cost for installation, which can vary significantly but as a general rule will account for 25% to 35% of the cost of the window itself.
Consumer Report List
Hi, I am looking on the CR website (we have a free subscription through our local library) on replacement windows and I am finding it to be lacking details. From the comments on your site, I see that you were talking about many CR ratings that I don't even see. Did they change the way they rate windows?
We are looking to replace between 11 and 15 windows due to energy and workability. A few years ago my husband replaced the metal sliding track on some of our windows to allow them to open and close easier, but we have the original builder-grade wood-with-a-storm-window installed in the early 1970s.. We have 4 six foot old wood windows on the front of our house which I love (they are really beautiful) and I have made insulated curtains for them so they are "energy efficient" enough for us.
Bottom line is that I am looking for a good side-by-side comparison of products (which CR used to provide). I am reading through your website which has given me some answers and many more questions and things to research.
Any guidance would be appreciated on CR rankings or former rankings. I love the look of our wood. I love the ease in cleaning of the vinyl we have on our addition. We are in a temperate climate zone so don't need to fend off hurricanes or blizzards.
Stan and Maureen - Homeowner - from 2020
[Site Editor's Answer]
Hi Stan and Maureen, thanks for the question. So CR is good for products that consumers can go out and purchase directly: TVs, washing machines, cars, etc. Windows don't work that way....well, a big portion of them don't anyway.
Okna Windows are probably my favorite brand and yet you would be hard pressed to find an Okna dealer that would sell you a window without the installation portion of the job. So you will never see Okna listed in CR, because they are not available to consumers. And yet, they blow the doors off of every single window listed in CR in terms of AI, U-value, DP, and SHGC. Here's a link that goes over what each of these mean...
Andersen and Marvin are usually listed on CR and I do like the wood clad windows from Andersen and the fiberglass windows from Marvin. But these are expensive brands and the Okna 800 DX is way more energy efficient than these. Not to say that Okna isn't inexpensive, nor is Soft-Lite, Sunrise, Kensington, etc. It's just that you are getting much more value for your dollar with these brands.
My own advise is to stick with a top tier vinyl window instead of wood clad. They are cheaper, tighter, longer lasting (by a lot), better energy efficiency, and require no maintenance. Here's the nice part, if you like the look of wood, you can get a top tier vinyl window with a wood laminate. Is it perfect looking, no. But I have to say the good wood laminate has a darn realistic wood grain look.
Tim - Site Editor - from 2020
Highly Rated By Consumer Reports
Thank you any alternatives in the Rockville MD area and why is the Pella 350 so highly rated by consumer reports - by far it is their top vinyl window ? Thompson Creek is coming in about 10.6K what do you think of their stuff? Any other vendor or contractor in Rockville MD area we might contact before a decision?
As some background we live in a neighborhood homes go from 700-900k, homes about 45 years old and would be replacing original wood double hung windows...plan to be in home 5-7 years then sell. Current windows in good shape except age.
I sent you another email but am looking for fairly high quality, want fair price and great install and warranty.
Will only be in house 5 more years but it is a very desirable neighborhood so cannot put in low quality. Open to other lines or contractors in this area - learned there is a lot of variance in price and quality and warranty out there...Peter
Peter - Homeowner - from 2020
[Site Editor's Answer]
Peter, Consumer Reports only includes windows that are available to consumers. The vast majority of windows are sold through dealers and are therefore not included in the CR ratings. My three top rated brands, for example, are Okna, Soft-Lite and Sunrise and yet none are mentioned by consumer reports.
If you are leaving in 5 to 7 years I would probably not go for a top tier window. You won't see the ROI on this. However, I'll send you my lists.
Tim - Site Editor - from 2020
Consumer Reports And Simonton Windows
Thank you for getting back to me Dane. I think Nate is trying to use your PDF file as more like a consumer reports evaluation. I know Consumer Reports ranked Simonton very high as well as Andersen, both of which are available to Nate locally. In fact there's a Simonton distributor in his town it's Ryan Building Supply. They only sell to contractors however.
I'm surprised Paradigm windows aren't listed in your document should I look them up on your website?
Roy - Homeowner - from 2017
[Site Editor's Answer]
Roy, Consumer Reports does rank Simonton and Andersen quite well. You have to understand though that CR can only rank windows that are available to consumers, which is not a lot. The majority of good vinyl windows are not even ranked on their survey. I think CR does a good job with a lot of consumer products, but I wouldn't put much stock in their replacement windows rankings. Just my opinion.
There are a number of window manufacturers that aren't included on the pdf. Paradigm makes a decent vinyl window, on par with some of the better Simonton windows. Definitely take a look at the reviews on the page to see what consumers and others think of their windows.
Dane - Site Editor - from 2017
American Craftsman & Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports gave American Craftsman the highest rating, so I looked at them when I needed new windows. The problem with CR is that they only pick cheap windows to test. Everything that they look at has to be something that anyone in the country can walk in to a store and buy. That already eliminates the really good windows. Just looking at the full size floor models at Home Depot, they were obviously junk. With the sashes locked, there was still way too much movement without even trying hard. I won't even go into how cheap they look.
Chace - Homeowner - from 2008
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