Vinyl replacement windows cost & advice – compare fiberglass vs. vinyl window quotes, questions to ask the window dealer with installation photos.

The wood frames on my 20-year old windows were rotting and had to be replaced. I solicited three quotes from factory-authorized dealers for fiberglass and vinyl windows, and chose the premium Okna Enviro Star 800 series vinyl windows from Pinnacle Window & Siding of Woodstock, GA.

The quotes for six windows varied greatly, from a high of $10,003.80 for fiberglass to $5,876.10 and $4,214.00 for two vinyl brands. The quotes are summarized in the following table:

Infinity from Marvin
Replacement Windows
(Fiberglass)
Unit
Price
QtyExt.
Price
Subtotal
with
Tax &

Labor
Master Bath Glider Window (Tempered)$2,026.301$2,026.30$2,128.38
Living Room Upper Picture Windows$1509.295$7,546.00$7,875.42
Grand Total:$10,003.80
Precision Millworks (Vinyl)Unit
Price
QtyExt.
Price
Subtotal
with
Tax &
Labor
Master Bath Glider Window (Tempered)$1,249.051$1,249.05 $1,249.05*
Living Room Upper Picture Windows$925.415$4,627.05 $4,627.05*
Grand Total:$5,876.10
Okna Enviro Star 800 (Vinyl)Unit
Price
QtyExt.
Price
Subtotal
with
Tax & Labor
Master Bath Glider Window (Tempered)Note **1Note **Note **
Living Room Upper Picture WindowsNote **5Note **Note **
Grand Total:$4,214.00

Footnotes:
* Precision Millworks quote Extended Price includes Tax and Labor.
** Okna quote did not itemize the Unit Price.

Vinyl Replacement Windows Cost & Advice

Why Replace Your Windows?

The most common reasons for replacing old windows are weathering, age, appearance, security, energy efficiency and noise reduction. I had five windows with rotted wood frames. I also choose to replace a 20 year old single-pane leaded glass privacy window in the master bathroom for comfort and energy efficiency.

Single vs Double vs Triple Pane Windows

The Building Code for windows varies with climate zone and imposes minimum energy efficiency requirements. See TABLE N1102.1.2 (R402.1.2) “INSULATION AND FENESTRATION REQUIREMENTS BY COMPONENT”, Chapter 11 Energy Efficiency in the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). The IRC is fairly complex, see Windows in Building Energy Codes for a simpler Building Code overview.

  • Single pane windows can’t meet the Building Code energy efficiency requirements for U-Factor (how well a window insulates) and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (ability to block heat from the sun) in my area – Atlanta, GA. Single pane windows also don’t block noise well.
  • Double pane windows are popular because they comply with the Code, cost less and are lighter than triple pane.
  • Triple pane are the most expensive, have the highest energy efficiency and may be required in very cold northern climates. However, the payback period is likely 20 years or longer.

I wanted rot and insect proof windows which rules out wood. That narrows my choices to aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass windows. Aluminum window frames are strong and rigid, but are also better conductors of heat & cold compared to vinyl and fiberglass. Fiberglass frames are thinner than vinyl and look similar to wood. Vinyl windows require a thicker frame for strength because the material is not as rigid as fiberglass.

Shopping for New Windows

Instead of trying to make sense of numerous window manufacturers and products, I searched for local window dealers with Better Business Bureau accreditation and A+ ratings, then made appointments with each dealer explaining that I was interested in fiberglass or vinyl replacement windows.

Each sales rep brought product samples which I closely examined for appearance, features and operation. All products were far superior to my 20 year old wood windows. The sales experience varied:

  • Two sales reps were extremely knowledgeable, provided product literature, measured the windows, discussed options and generated quotes on the spot.
    • The high bidder was very eager for a contract signature, offering a 3% “today only” discount and financing. I explained that I had appointments pending with other dealers and wasn’t interested in financing.
  • The third sales rep had limited product knowledge, couldn’t answer many of questions and said it take about a week to send a quote. I’d already eliminated the third sales rep. from consideration but waited for the quote to compare prices.

Questions to ask the replacement window dealer:

  1. What is the window manufacturer warranty?
    • Is the warranty transferable to the new homeowner if I sell my home? Is there a fee?
  2. What is the dealer installation and workmanship warranty?
  3. Who handles manufacturer warranty registration and warranty claims?
    • The dealer should register your warranty and handle all claims on your behalf.
  4. How long until the new windows are installed?
    • Windows are custom made at the factory after the dealer places your order. 4 to 6 weeks lead time is common for the windows to arrive at the dealer.
    • How long is the typical wait to schedule an installation date after the windows arrive?
  5. Will the replacement windows be installed from the interior or exterior of the house?
    • Replacement windows are typically installed from the outside as it avoids tearing off the interior window casing (moulding) and interior painting.
  6. Will you repair or replace any rotted window jambs, sills, brick mould, etc? What is the standard cost?
  7. How will the window be trimmed?
    • Prefabricated flat casing or wrap the brick mould with aluminum cladding? Ask for photos from other jobs. Either solution is fine. What you don’t want is something that doesn’t match the other windows if you’re not replacing all windows on the same side of the house.
  8. How is the window insulated between the frame and rough opening?
    • Some windows like the Okna 800 series have factory installed dual foam insulation strips. Other windows require low expansion spray foam insulation. Fiberglass insulation is another option.

Cost to Replace All Windows on Your Home?

If you’re only replacing a couple of windows now, also consider the total cost to replace all the windows on your home. My home has 38 windows which eventually will need to be replaced. I estimate the cost to replace all my windows ranges from $27,000 for vinyl to $60,000 for fiberglass. The general manager at Pinnacle Window & Siding said they do a lot of “completion work” where the homeowner started with an expensive window product before calling Pinnacle to finish the job with more affordable vinyl windows.

Rotted Wood Windows

The top row of windows on the curved wall are rotting at the bottom corner of the frames. The frame cannot be repaired because it’s a tongue-and-groove joint which holds the double panes of glass and rubber seal in place:

Curved Wall Picture Windows
Curved Wall Picture Windows

For example, both windows have rotted corners:

Picture Windows Wood Rot
Picture Windows Wood Rot

A closeup of the soft and mushy wood rot. I slathered silicone caulk over the frame as a temporary measure until new windows can be installed:

Window Frame Wood Rot
Window Frame Wood Rot

Water wicked behind the plastic glazing bead and into the wood joint causing it to rot:

Rotted Wood Window Frame
Rotted Wood Window Frame

Master Bath Leaded Glass Window

The leaded glass privacy window in the master bath looks nice and is in good shape. I wanted to replace it because the single pane of glass and lead frame is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s energy inefficient and has poor noise reduction – street traffic, lawn mowers, etc. See the Okna Vinyl Replacement Sliding Window Review for details.

Master Bath Leaded Glass Picture Window
Master Bath Leaded Glass Picture Window

Vinyl Replacement Window Installation Process

The new vinyl windows will replaced from the outside. This is the preferred method because it avoids removing the interior window casing and repainting. The basic steps are:

  1. Cut the caulk lines with a utility knife along the interior and exterior sides of the window frame.
  2. Chisel off the exterior blind stop.
  3. Remove the filler strip, if present.
  4. Insert the new replacement window, seating it against the interior blind stop.
  5. Level and adjust the new window.
  6. Fasten the new window in the rough opening with screws.
  7. Insulate the gap the between the window and rough open with foam or fiberglass.
  8. Wrap the brickmould and window with aluminum cladding.
  9. Caulk all seams.
  10. Paint the cladding if needed to match the house trim.

The following diagram details how the picture windows are mounted in the rough opening. Note how the blind stop is a factory made part of the window jamb and covers the filler strip. The nose of the blind stop is chiseled off even with the jamb and brickmould. The filler strip removed to release the old window and provide clearance to install the new vinyl window:

Window Jamb Diagram - Filler Strip Blind Stop
Window Jamb Diagram – Filler Strip Blind Stop

The workmen began by removing the old picture windows – cut the caulk lines, chisel off the blind stop and pull off the filler strip:

A workman inside the house pushes the old window out to the 2nd workman on the ladder. Note the new vinyl window is installed on the right:

Remove Old Picture Window
Remove Old Picture Window

Window jamb detail showing the inside stop, outside blind stop and brickmould. The new vinyl windows will seat against the inside stop:

Window Replacement - Interior Stop Wood Jamb Exterior Blind Stop and Brickmould
Window Replacement – Interior Stop Wood Jamb Exterior Blind Stop and Brickmould

I was worried the window sill or jambs may have water damage. Fortunately the window sills are PVC plastic and the jambs are fine:

Window Replacement - Wood Jambs and Sill
Window Replacement – Wood Jambs and Sill

Wood rot and water damage on the old window. Water wicked along the bottom of the frame. This is interior side of the window, the exterior side looks much worse:

Wood Window Frame Water Damage
Wood Window Frame Water Damage

New Okna 800 Series Vinyl Window Installation

The new Okna 800 Enviro-Star 800 series vinyl windows are ready to be installed. The windows have factory-installed double weather stripping for energy efficiency:

The new window is set into the rough opening and pushed inward against the interior stop:

Okna Vinyl Replacement Window Installation - Set into Rough Opening
Okna Vinyl Replacement Window Installation – Set into Rough Opening

Then the window leveled, shimmed and fastened to the jamb with stainless steel screws. The interior frame has factory-made screw holes and plastic caps to conceal the holes.

Okna 800 Series Vinyl Window Fastened to Jambs with Screws
Okna 800 Series Vinyl Window Fastened to Jambs with Screws

The windows are cladded / wrapped with PVC coated aluminum trim to cover the space between the window frame and brickmould. Aluminum trim coil is bent with a sheet metal brake and roller to make ribbing that matches the brickmould. The cladding covers the wood brickmould and fits into the “accessory groove” in the vinyl frame.

Wrapping the window with aluminum trim requires attention to detail and consumed about 50% of the installation time. It’s a very nice trim solution:

All interior and exterior seams are caulked with Siroflex HYBRI-SIL® adhesive caulk and sealant. Pinnacle Window & Siding of Woodstock special orders it and won’t use the caulks sold at the home improvement store. The new vinyl windows look great and you’d have to look closely to notice the difference in the vinyl vs original wood windows:

Window Condensation – New versus Old Windows

This image illustrates the superior insulating properties of new versus old windows. This photo was taken in the morning after muggy summer night. The new Okna vinyl windows have no exterior glass condensation where the 20 year old original windows are sweating. All windows are double pane.

Old vs New Window Energy Efficiency - Humid Summer Morning Condensation
Old vs New Window Energy Efficiency – Humid Summer Morning Condensation

The space between double pane windows is filled with Argon or other inert gas because it insulates about 30% better than air. Over time the gas leaks past the rubber seal and is replaced by air. The old windows are chilled by central air conditioning system, which cools the exterior pane below the dew point of 75F or 78F degrees, causing water to condense on the glass.

Pinnacle Window & Siding of Woodstock, GA did an excellent job!

Up next: Okna Vinyl Replacement Sliding Window for the master bath sliding glass window installation.

Best,
Bob Jackson

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