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Great Lakes Windows Reviews

Read 23 Great Lakes windows reviews from consumers and industry experts on their complete vinyl window options. Great Lakes is owned by Ply Gem, a national material and building supply company.

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 this window manufacturer.

Click on the Great Lakes model below for reviews. For general information, see 'General Reviews.'

Great Lakes Window Prices | Bayshore Series | Seabrooke Series | Lifestyles Series

Uniframe Series | Grandview Series | Patio Doors

Comfort Smart Series | General Reviews


Editor's Great Lakes Windows Review

Great Lakes is owned by Ply Gem, which is a big company that owns multiple siding companies and sells windows, siding, roofing supplies etc. This is probably a good thing in the case of Great Lakes because it means stability and a warranty that most consumers can assume is going to be there should they need it. Great Lakes makes decent vinyl windows - their Seabrooke and Lifestyle series, nothing particularly fancy, but solid. The Uniframe is a good vinyl window and depending on the price point, it should be a contender against some of the better vinyl windows out there.

Great Lakes has a good reputation in the industry for standing behind their work and providing good solid customer service (this cannot be said about all window companies, that's for sure.) If the price point is there and you feel comfortable with the installer, then Great Lakes is a nice option that should definitely be considered by homeowners.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2016

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.)



Great Lakes Bayshore Windows Reviews


Editor's Bayshore Window Review

At one time, Great Lakes sold and marketed the Bayshore window on a standalone website. More recently, 2015 from what we could tell, the company revamped their site and did away with pretty much all of their product names on their site (at least their lower end vinyl windows). Instead they just sort of show you the style window that they offer, as well as the color, grille and glass options available. Interestingly, if you search for their higher end windows such as the ecoSmart or the Uniframe, you will find these standalone websites that market these windows. Our best guess is that this is a amarketing tactic that gets away from lumping their entry level vinyl windows as just sort of okay.

What is also interesting is that on the nfrc.org website, which lists performance and ratings numbers on its site, if you search under Great Lakes for a double hung, you will see that the Bayshore / Seabrooke / Lifestyles series are all lumped together under one listing. It seems that Great Lakes, who is owned by Ply Gem, has decided to either slimline their product lines or to simply make their entry level window models a bit less transparent for the consumer. We will go with the first theory to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2016


Great Lakes Bayshore vs Milgard Tuscany

I'm looking at the Great Lakes Bayshore and the Milgard Tuscany window.

Contractor's Response

The GL Bayshore is an alright vinyl option, but nothing special. I think it's overpriced. The Milgard Tuscany however is always good, they rarely have problems and last a long time. I think the Tuscany is a better choice between the two.

Wayne - Contractor - from 2008






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Great Lakes Seabrooke Windows Reviews


Great Lakes Seabrooke Windows vs Jeld Wen

Hi, I am really hoping you can help me. I own a condo which was built in 1984. In October 2013, I purchased Great Lakes Seabrooke Windows. These are brown on the outside, white on the inside, slide side to side and have no grid. One of the reasons I purchased this model was due to the ability to slide the screen into either position which was previously not an option.

All went well till a neighbor had a fire on 2-13-16. The management company is rebuilding but has replaced my windows with a Jeld-Wen. The contractor is trying to tell me that these windows are far superior to the Great Lakes ones.

I am trying to have them give me the model number as there was not any paperwork hanging on the window with information, just with the brand name on it. This is an insurance issue and I am more than willing to fight them once I can prove I am correct.

Living in Connecticut and the winters are brutally cold. The electric rates (which is my only choice for heat) are the highest in the country. Can you assist me? Or at least offer an opinion?

Ruth - Homeowner - from 2016

[Site Editor's Response]

Ruth, the Great Lakes Seabrooke is a pretty low end mid range vinyl window (does that make sense?). However, I have never hear anyone say that Jeld Wen is far superior to Great Lakes, but again it depends what window series we are talking about in terms of the Jeld Wen. They should absolutely be able to tell you what model and series of window they are putting in. If they can't this would cause me a bit of concern and lead me to believe that they are using a builer grade vinyl to keep the price tag as low as possible.

Frankly, the windows are probably about the same. The big thing I would look for with the contractor is that they do a REALLY thorough job installing and insulating around the window. Be the squeaky wheel when they come to install, that way you have a better chance that they don't cut corners - they don't really work for you so this would cause me a bit of concern that they are just trying to bang out the job instead of really installing the windows and insulating and sealing the windows as tight as possible.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2016


Great Lakes Seabrooke Window Review

We are thinking about replacing our windows and are looking at Great Lakes Seabrooks installed by Windows Doors and More from Ft Wayne IN. We want windows that will last and improve our home. Would these be a good choice?

Sally - Homeowner - from 2015

[Editor's Response]

Sally, the Seabrooke Window is not a bad vinyl window, although it is their less expensive model (I usually recommend trying to stretch into the mid range series). The Uniframe is certainly a good vinyl window -- have you gotten window pricing on either this or the Lifestyles (mid range), just to see how they compare?

One rule of thumb I might throw out is to go with a better model or series and then see how to get the per window cost down from there. One place is in the components such as going with a plastic hardware instead of the upgraded metal or upgraded color frame. Ask the sales person to suggest places to reduce the cost, without sacrificing quality (you will sometimes sacrifice on aesthetics, but I've found that once vinyl windows are installed you barely notice them unless they leak or do not work properly).

I don't know the company you mentioned for the installation, but the installation is 50% of the total package, so getting really thorough installation is a very important component. How are their reviews? Get some references just to make sure that you like what you hear from other consumers on their services etc. Great Lakes has a good reputation (they are owned by Ply Gem) and make a solid vinyl window. Let me know how it goes!

Pete - Industry Expert - from 2015

[Homeowner's Response]

We still have more companies coming to give us quotes. One company, Bee Windows, makes their own windows. Their manufacturing plant is in Indianapolis. Can you tell us anything about them?

[Editor's Response]

Sally, I haven't heard of Bee Window, I did go on their website and took a look, but there was not much information on their vinyl window specs. They sell Marvin Infinity windows, that's a good sign :)

The numbers with their special insulated glass was impressive, but beyond this I can't say. If they sell a decent but not great vinyl window (which is likely), but have excellent customer service and installation reputation, they may be a nice fit --

windows 50%
installation 50%

Good Luck!

Pete - Industry Expert - from 2015


Great Lakes Seabrooke vs Simonton Bronze

I've narrowed down my window selections to the Great Lakes Seabrooke and the Simonton Prism. First off, how does the Simonton Bronze compare to the Simonton 5500 window? I've never actually seen the GL Seabrooke, although I have read the brochure and they seem like a quality window. Are the Seabrooke and Simonton 5500 comparable? We are limited in window brands where we live, but for everything I've read I should avoid the big Home Improvement stores. Is that right?

Steve - Consumer - from 2010

[Site Editor's Response]

Steve, let's start out with the Simonton question. The Simonton Bronze is the equivalent of the Simonton Reflections 5050 Series, which is the entry level Reflections model - it goes 5050, 5300, and 5500. The Reflections 5500 series is the equivalent to the Prism Platinum, the higher end window model. I would recommend the 5300 and 5500 models, but not the 5050 or Prism.

The Simonton Prism and the Great Lakes Seabrooke window are probably on par with one another, although I would give the nod to the Seabrooke Series. In terms of Great Lakes, I would recommend upgrading to the Lifestyles or the Uniframe Series if you are able to stretch your budget a bit. It will pay off in terms of long term value.

Holland - Contractor - from 2010


Great Lakes Seabrooke vs Gorell 5300

I'm considering the Great Lakes Seabrook and the Gorell 5300. The price is close, warranties similar, etc. What makes one better than the other?

Sara - Homeowner - from 2011

[Contractor Response]

I don't think that the difference is that big, but Gorell in general is a better product. I personally like the looks of the Great Lakes better than the 5300 but as far as performance, build quality, and everything else the Gorell is better. A lot depends on what exactly you're looking for. Check out the Timeless and 5100 series.

Scott - Installer - from 2011

Read more on Gorell windows reviews.


Great Lakes Window Complaints

I had 8 Great Lakes put in a couple of years ago and this spring 3 out of 8 windows have mold growing between the panes. I called to complain and they send new panes, but I wanted a full sash replacement. So now I have to find an installer to come swap out the glass. I'm disappointed because I was told they should last 15 to 20 years and it's been less than 3.

Phil - Homeowner in Illinois - from 2010






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Great Lakes Lifestyles Windows Reviews


Great Lakes Lifestyles vs Simonton 5300

My husband and I are researching replacement windows. We had it down to Simonton 5300 model (or maybe it was 5500) through Home Depot or Great Lakes' Lifestyles through a local company, which seems to have a good track record. The local company was definitely more aggressive in their sales (after almost three hours of the "pitch" we ended up signing on) but they're definitely more expensive and over budget. The window styles are comparable, warranties too. But Home Depot quoted about $5000 and the local company quoted $9200 (after really intense negotiating we got it down to $7500.)

Which is the better product? And which company do you think would be better to work with?

Lauri - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Lauri, I do think Simonton makes a good window, the 5300 and 5500 models are quite decent vinyl windows. However, Great Lakes Lifestyle is very solid and probably comparable to the 5500 Series. I'm not surprised that the local company was more expensive, HD typically uses subcontractors who are often paid by the window, which means the quicker they get the job knocked out, the quicker they get paid. This is not a great recipe for quality installation.

What is the reputation of the local company like? Assuming it is good and their installation teams have lots of experience installing this particular window, then I would say spend the extra money and go with the local company. I like the installers who are super finicky and seem almost anal about their work - these are the ones who are going to make sure that each window is installed perfectly. Do they come with a warranty on the labor, 1 year is typical, just in case there are any issues.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2015


Great Lakes Lifestyles or Ply Gem 9000

I am getting a variety of quotes for prime vinyl, double hung window replacements and now have approx. a $12,000 price difference in these quotes - 6 picture windows (4 transom above 4 double hung, 1 bathroom above a tub, and 1 super large in the kitchen dining space) and 14 double hung (4 that are oversize). The quotes were all from TVA listed companies. After doing more online research I came across your site and have been stumped by the various reviews regarding the manufactures.

I believe they are all from either Sunrise (not sure of the style - just a prime level) or Ply Gem 9000 series (Great Lakes). They all have shown written lifetime warranties no questions asked and one even had a lifetime labor warranty. This is a big investment and I don't want to make the wrong choice based on what I have read in a review, but mold and seal failure in a short period of time after the install is not what I want to experience, nor the hassle to get them repaired/replaced.

Please help clear up my uncertainties and why I shouldn't have just gone down to a big box store and contracted out with them. Have to make a decision ASAP, because the existing windows even though they are only 13 years old they are the construction grade wood and in lack luster shape. We are in the south and get high summer temps - already at 98 today, on a hill so wind and rain attacks the windows unmercifully. Any recommendations or suggestions are gratefully appreciated.

Annie - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

I'm not sure what the 9000 Series is from either Ply Gem or Great Lakes - GL offers the Bayshore, Seabrooke, Lifestyles and Uniframe window models. I would ask what replacement window model the 9000 Series is most closely associated with, I've listed them here from entry level to premium (the Uniframe is the Great Lakes premium model). I would also ask to the rep to give you the performance numbers on the Series he is suggesting (U-factor, SHGC, AI and VT) in order to compare them to the Sunrise option.

Having said that, as brands go, Sunrise is tier 1, while Great Lakes and Ply Gem are tier 2 (not bad options by any means, just that they aren't considered the cream of the crop, which Sunrise generally is). The Sunrise Essentials window is not great, but the step up Sunrise frame is very solid and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this model, assuming a good price point and solid installation.

I think you need a couple more price quotes though from someone offering different window brands - Okna, Kensington, Polaris, Soft-Lite, ProVia, HiMark to help even out the huge price disparity of $12K. That's too big a difference to make a choice between.

Dane - Site Editor - from 2015






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Great Lakes Grandview Windows Reviews


Great Lakes Grand View 4000

I was planning on Pella windows because I used to work for them and I know they're a decent company. But the contractor that I want to use really likes Great Lakes, and I trust him and know that he knows what he's doing. He likes the Grand View 4000. They are expensive and the numbers look good, but I'm not sure because I don't know much about them.

Bill - Industry Insider in Michigan - from 2010


Great Lakes Grandview Review

Great Lakes has really good customer service. I've been installing them for years, and whenever I need a part or have a problem, they are all over it. I'd rather work with them than anyone else.

Buddy - Contractor - from 2009


Great Lakes Window Review

Great Lakes makes a good window. The Grandview is a pretty good deal for the price. They have some seal failures, but from what I've heard they always send new glass without a lot of hassle.

Mike - Contractor in Delaware - from 2009


Great Lakes Grandview 5000 Window

I have a bunch of windows to replace - sliders, double hung, casement, and a sliding door. I've pretty much narrowed it down to a few choices. They all qualify for the $1500 tax credit, which is nice. I'm looking at:
Alside Sheffield (with Climatech & Super spacer): $6400
Simonton Prism Platinum 5500 (w/ Super Spacer): $7700
Great Lakes Grandview 4000: $7500
Great Lakes Grandview 5000 (triple pane): $8300

Sheffields are affordable but there's usually a reason when one thing is a lot cheaper. I've heard good things about Simontons, but are they worth that much more? And I don't know a lot about Great Lakes but they look good and I think the price isn't that bad.

Jack - Homeowner in Colorado - from 2009

[Response From Contractor]

The Simonton is always a good bet. Great Lakes makes good windows, and they have good customer service. Either would be ok. I would stay away from the Alsides unless the money is a problem.

William - Contractor - from 2009

Read more on Simonton windows reviews.






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Great Lakes Uniframe Windows Reviews


Editor's Uniframe Window Review

The Uniframe is the premium vinyl window from Great Lakes and generally consider a very good vinyl window. I would put it at the bottom of the first tier vinyl windows out there. depending on the price point, it should be a contender against some of the better vinyl windows out there.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2016


Great Lakes Uniframe Window Review

I have a quote for 9 double hung (on the large side 35 x 59) with grids, one sliding window 71.5 x 43.5, one sliding door 71 x 79.5. Interior white wood grain. Full screens. The cost of the windows w/o installation is $8900 for Great Lakes Uniframe. Does this sound high?

Deanne - Homeowner - from 2015

[Contractor Response]

With the large sliding window and sliding door, plus all of the features, that price does not sound out of line. Have you gotten 1 or 2 more bids to compare this too? I would definitely do so and you can let the other guys know that you are collecting three bids to make sure that they are coming in with their most competitive price quote.

Dane - Contractor - from 2015






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Great Lakes Patio Door Reviews


Great Lakes Patio Doors

We would want a vinyl door or a fiber glass one. But both the local contractor and HD said the doors are not standard size and need to be customized. Soft lite does not do customized doors in vinyl or fiber glass, hence the wood one by Marvin. A third contractor quoted $4500 only for smooth fiber glass patio door from Great Lakes. Is Great Lakes a good product? Do you think it is a better idea to have the windows and doors done by different contractors?

Jackie - Homeowner - from 2016

[Site Editor's Response]

Jackie, I don't think it's imperative to have the windows and doors done by the same company, as long as the different look of the hardware doesn't bother you. Great Lakes generally makes a good product, depending on the window model you select. In all honesty, I don't know much about the quality of their doors, I would imagine they are solid. What I would do is ask for the U-factor and air leakage numbers and see how they compare to the Marvin.

Marvin does make a great window and door, but you will definitely pay a premium for the privilege. I think you will be fine with the Great Lakes door though, assuming you like the look and the performance data.

- Site Editor - from 2016






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Great Lakes Comfort Smart Reviews


Great Lakes Comfort Smart Pricing

I came across your website while researching windows – great site and info! I’m learning a lot. I’m writing to ask your insights on brands, types and pricing.

We live in Chicago in a brick bungalow build in 1929. The house has original wood windows, with weighted pulleys and storm windows. The house is very drafty in winter and the heating bills high.

We’ve decided to replace the windows in our house and have just started the window shopping process. We will remain in this house for at least 4 years possibly longer. We’d like a good quality window that is solid for energy efficiency, sound insulation and is low maintenance. We also don’t want to break the budget! In doing cursory window and internet shopping, our first big hurdle is interior color options. They are SO limited! We want to maintain a wood finish or color in walnut to match all our existing trim. We are open to wood, wood clad, composite and vinyl. It seems that vinyl can meet most of our wish list but not the interior finish. Wood and wood clad can meet our interior color, but I’m not sure its within our budget and it requires maintenance. Same with composite.

I know I need to get multiple quotes. I’ve found a local window manufacturer – Climate Guard that will be coming by to quote. The first quote we have from another local company American Thermal Window. They quoted us on Great Lakes Vinyl Hybrid Comfort Smart series. The quote was for 16 double hung windows, 6 casements with Triple Pane EG3 glass with Low-E and Argon. Extra’s included prairie grids for the 13 LR windows, the casements are frosted glass and the interior has wood grain finishes. The exterior front has capping and the remaining exterior windows are white. This brand offers everything we want BUT its costly - $21K including installation. Our budget is $15,500-$18K.

Is that price excessive or is our budget unrealistic? Can you recommend other quality brands we should seek out for a quote? In vinyl, Kolbe seems to be the only other choice due to its interior color options. Haven’t come across others.

Suzanne - Homeowner - from 2016

[Site Editor's Answer]

Suzanne, you should be able to get an excellent vinyl window within your budget, although it does sound like there is some extensive installation work so let's see how the bids come in before I make that claim. I think you should see if you can find the following brands sold by local companies -- Okna, Sunrise, Soft-Lite and Zen. With the exception of the Zen, I believe all three of these brands come in an interior laminate that may or may not match your interior. These laminates should be as realistic as the Comfort Smart or better and also offer energy efficiency -- although I'm not sure how they compare to the triple pane Great Lakes bid you received.

Ask each company on the phone about their interior colors and their interior laminates -- and ask them to being samples. I'd start out here and see how the bids come in. The brands I mentioned are generally considered better than the Great Lakes, although I'd like to hear what you think after you seen a couple of them.

Tim - Site Editor - from 2016






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General Great Lakes Windows Reviews


Great Lakes Vinyl Replacement Window Issue

Tim, we had Johnson Window & Siding company replace all our windows in our 1910 two story house with "Great Lakes Solid vinyl replacement window - natural woodgrain". They are double hung half screen windows with now name that I can find. The sun has faded and peeled the finish on the top of the bottom sashes. We would like to replace the damaged ones, but have no idea what brand or quality they are since our bill only said "Great Lakes Solid vinyl replacement window - natural woodgrain". Johnson Window and Siding no longer exists. How do we go about finding replacements for the "replacements" with no name on them? Could I send pictures of them to you? The have two slide latches on each sash for removal besides the locking latch. We live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Ken - Homeowner - from 2016

[Site Editor's Response]

Ken, there should be manufacturing information written somewhere on the window, often in the corner of the glass. I'm not quite sure how Great Lakes does it, each manufacturer tends to handle this a bit differently.

If it were me, I would find a local Great Lakes rep or dealer who services your area and have them come out and give you a bid on replacement windows. They should be able to tell you what window it is and how much it will cost to replace the sashes, assuming they can. When you call, I wouldn't say too much, just that you are looking to get some replacement windows in your home. Then when they get there, you can steer them towards your specific problem and see what they say. Good luck!

- Site Editor - from 2016


Great Lakes Windows Warranty

Approx. 18 months ago, we lost a seal on one of our many Great Lakes windows. I am STILL attempting to be able to buy a replacement panel. Their warrantee, which is still valid and still posted on their web site, guarantees that windows are covered for 20 years on a pro-rated basis. Since the windows were already 17 years old when the seal let go, we were aware we would have very little warrantee to apply to the purchase, and we accepted the fact that the purchase would be mostly our responsibility. To date, I have contacted them by phone, thru dealers, thru a web-site representative, & thru the web site in the contact us section.

The windows will soon be 20 years old, the panels are still available but this company takes NO responsibility for their consumer s purchase rights! I have spoken with at least 5 of their representatives, and not one of them have followed thru on our request. The two best responses I got was for one of them to mail me their warrantee (which I already had as well as it being posted online); the other person suggested that since the windows were 17 years old, we should probably think about replacing them.

Their nearest dealer now is approx 100 miles away (our original contractor has retired and dissolved his company), and we have all the necessary part numbers for the panel. We also have a contractor friend who will help install the panel they still ignore us, even tho the only thing they need to do is ship the panel and accept our check! Our windows contain 20 panels in 13 windows (one triple-pane and many two-pane windows, all are casement style). They are fine windows, and this is the ONLY issue we've ever had but I will NEVER purchase from the Great Lakes company again, nor will I recommend them to any of our friends.

Lynnie - Homeowner - from 2015


Great Lakes vs Vista Windows

We've gotten several window estimates for whole house replacement windows. Most of our current windows are low quality, builders grade aluminum. We're looking at low-E, argon, double pane windows and are deciding between 2 companies. One uses Vista Window Co and the other uses Great Lakes Window. I see mixed reviews on both, and the price for the Vista windows is much less, so I'm wondering is it a good deal, or should we pay more fore Great Lakes? Any advice appreciated.

Sunny - Homeowner - from 2015

[Site Editor's Response]

Sunny, on the face of it, Vista and Great Lakes have roughly the same reputation in the industry. To be honest, both are known as good middle of the road vinyl window manufacturers. Neither is considered top tier, but they are both quite solid, which is a good thing for you. Vista carries one principal vinyl window, which they call the Panorama, while Great Lakes carries 4 different grades of vinyl windows. So my first question would be, which Great Lakes window did you get the quote for? I would say the Panorama from Vista is comparable to either the Lifestyles or Uniframe model from Great Lakes - the Uniframe is GL's premium series, while the Lifestyles is their step down. I would say the Bayshore and the Seabrooke from Great Lakes are both a step below the Panorama and I would not recommend these models over the Vista.

You said the price for the Panorama is lower, so I would start here. Assuming that the company offering the Vista windows is professional, competent, and is going to offer thorough installation from a team of installers that has lots of experience with the Panorama and has a reputation for quality work, I would go this route. If, however, you have any concerns about the installers and/or company, then perhaps a bit more leg work is involved. First, find out which Great Lakes window model you have gotten the quote on and get the U-factor, AI, SHGC and DP ratings for the window and compare this to the Panorama ratings (the person who gave you the quote should have these numbers readily available). Then figure out if the company offering the GL is going to offer better installation, do they provide a labor warranty, do they have references, and a long track record of excellence in the community?

If you don't feel comfortable with either company, then I would say get two more quotes and see if this sheds some light on the issue. Let us know what you come up with!

Tim - Site Editor - from 2015


Great Lakes vs Ply Gem & MI

Allied Building Products has a private label window called "Cutting Edge" and I'm trying to figure out who manufactures it. Any ideas?

Jay - Homeowner from 2010

[Contractor Response]

They're made by MI. They are also sometimes called Xacts. They are a cheap, builder grade window designed to be the lowest cost possible. If you have your heart set on Allied, look at the PlyGem Premium or Great Lakes 5000. Before you buy anything take the time to check out Okna, Gorell, Sunrise, Polaris, and SoftLite. With any of those, you'll be getting a window that's worth your money and won't fall apart in five years.

Holland - Contractor - from 2010


One Customers Take On The Windows

In the 1990s I was an installer with Great Lakes. They do have strong fused corners, and the glass is great, low-E, argon filled, all that. They're also good about providing replacement parts quickly and without hassle. I think their biggest weakness is the darker colored vinyl frames can warp when the temperatures change too much too quickly. If they've taken care of that issue, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.

Don - Homeowner in Minnesota - from 2010


Great Lakes vs Sunrise

I like Sunrise a lot, I think they're one of the best on the market. I wish I worked with them, but I rarely have the chance to. They've been around a long time. They definitely beat Great Lakes, Plygem, or just about any other brand. I'm not familiar with Seaways but they seem decent, but Sunrise is always a good bet.

Harry - Contractor - from 2010

Read additional Sunrise windows reviews.






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