How to shop for windows

Old 07-08-01, 07:59 PM
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Through a combination of inheritance and purchase, I own my father's and my grandfather's houses in north Alabama, and I am trying to get my house in Tennessee in presentable shape to sell it so I can move to Alabama.
My first question concerns storm windows in the house in Tennessee, which I have owned for 15 years. The house was built in three stages. The original house was built in the 50's, additions were made in the 70's and 80's. The issue at hand concerns the existing storm windows, all of which appear to be about 20 years old. These storm windows are plain aluminum windows, about half of them are damaged in some way, and they are all just plain ugly. I have removed and reattached these windows myself for painting or other reasons from time to time, so I'm not intimidated by the idea of installing replacements. But finding replacements has turned out to be quite a challenge.
I have tried Home Depot, Lowe's, Carroll and Corum, and get consistently the same answer: Bring in the number of windows and the measurements, choose the model of windows we like, and they will work up the prices. Well, my peculiar problem is that I anticipate choosing the windows based in part on the price. Even ballpark pricing would be nice. Apparently showing customers a price list for windows is a bad thing. Then another problem is that the distributors have not been able to tell me exactly what points on the windows to use to take the measurements. I have also searched the internet, but the few vendors I find there are no more forthcoming with answers than my local folks. So, how do I find the features, benefits, and prices for storm windows so that I can choose replacements that I can install on my house? And is there a specific guide to measuring for storm windows?
Briefly, a second question concerns my father's old house in Alabama. The primary windows in that house are aluminum and were installed about 1970 and the house is brick. I would like to replace the windows with wood or vinyl clad wood. However, apparently the sizes and installation methods for aluminum and wood are so different that the two types are highly incompatible. Is there a solution that will allow me to replace with wood as I would like? Oh, and the "secet prices" problem has cropped up with these windows as well.

Thanks much for any help you can offer,

Old 07-08-01, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Arlington, WA
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At both of the houses, I would simply retrofit vinyl windows and eliminate all of the problems.

The TN house, you will not get an exact match between the existing windows and the frames of aftermarket storm windows, especially since your existing windows span about 25 to 30 years in age. Retrofit vinyls will be custom made to fit each opening, and the end result will be more uniform look throughout the house as well as being much more energy efficient. It will add to the selling price of the house as well as it's showability. Even low-end vinyls would be better than the storm windows, and probably not much more expensive.

In the AL house, where you will be living, step up to middle or upper-end vinyls. They will retrofit without all of the difficulties of wood or clads, and be every bit as efficient (and quite a bit less expensive).

In both cases, opt for the low-E glass.
Old 07-09-01, 03:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
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There are several reasons your having so much trouble with the stores. And that is you do not know the exact size. If your just shopping price, measure your whole window opening and go to the store, and look at the chart they have. It is based on square inches. X square inches cost Y dollars. However, if you decide on an exact window, try to get them to measure them for you. These windows will be made to custom fit your openings. If you measure them and your wrong, there is no return. If they measure them and their wrong, then it is their fault. I install alot of windows and know how to measure them correctly, and I even get a lumber yard or even the factory rep to measure them. I never buy window of odd dimensions at a Home Improvement store. I always use a lumber yard, or window company.

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