Hello! I believe that people can fix nearly ANYTHING themselves with a little guidance! I'll help you, and you will pay only if you are satisfied. Hi, David here.
I worked for about 5 of my 22 years in the building materials business for Andersen Windows. I saw during that time many different failures from many different brands.
The Eagle brand was a newer lower cost window specifically marketed to midrange homebuilders who wanted a Pella or Marvin lookalike without the expense.
Of course there are many ways for a window to fail. The older companies all had their period of learning what not to do. Of these, Andersen, with their brown color (terratone) has perhaps the largest number of failures, with the vinyl cladding over the wood splitting from too much heat. Pella has had a lot of air-infiltration issues. The windows, by design, are not as air tight as some of their salespeople make them appear to be, and so the expectation is really high, and disappointment sets in later, causing complaints.
Andersen fixed, at no charge, including labor, every discovered instance of this failure. Darn fantastic backing of their product. No other manufacturer ever came even close.
Pella has several lines of windows of different qualities, with the Architectural series being very expensive and pretty darned good, with the proline series not working nearly as well. Just know what you are getting, and do not expect the champagne for the beer (good, expensive beer, but not champagne) price.
Jeld-wen has many different lines of windows.
If you choose the high end, and look at the performance numbers, and compare them to the performance numbers of all but Andersen, you will be happy with the cost versus performance balance. Their low end are not meant to be their high end. They have good backing, but generally do not go beyond the warranty, as stated. With them you get what you pay for.
Marvin has good quality, with amazing custom capabilities, and if you need custom sizes, and want wood interiors, Marvin makes the best like that. Andersen's highest quality windows are not custom-size friendly. Andersen's work so well in part because the manufacture is very tightly controlled for the standard sizes on the 400 series windows, and air and water infiltration is almost impossible beyond the finest dust in very windy areas, but not for custom sizes. Marvin's windows will look fantastic, operate very well, be well warranted, are custom sizeable, and performance numbers will be almost what Andersen's are. They are also the most expensive available.
So decide. Pay a lot and buy top-end Marvin, compromise about sizing and buy top-end Andersen, or be willing to compromise the quality a bit, save some money, and buy the second tier brands--in my opinion. Pella is an old brand name, and if there is sufficient proof thay will stand behind failures, but do not expect Pella or Jeld-Wen to go above and beyond after the sale.
I understand that you will hear many different opinions, and many contractors who have installed mostly one brand will have a favorite. I have a lot of experience with several brands from not only an installation and servicing viewpoint, but also having to learn the products and comparing them in an objective way.
The stickers on the windows will tell you what the air infiltration rate is, and the u-value, which basically tells how well they insulate. Most of the rest of the performance claims are hype. So, read those labels first, and make sure the quote is for the same window whose label you read, not just the same brand. (different quality lines for each manufacturer), and then the most important part is using a contractor that you really can trust, one who is licensed and insured, and in business for a long time, and big enough to pay a claim without going out of business, and established enough that the reputation is very, very important in your community. This is because the install is at least as important as the window.
Many of the bad installs I saw were just bad use of sticky flashing that seemed like it should work well. The contractors would want the window replaced so as not to lose face with the homeowner. the flashing needs to be installed in a very specific way so that gravity helps, not hinders the water to stay out of the wall. Many lawsuits to window companies are about a lack of directions about flashing, not really about the window itself.
So, my final recommendation: if you need custom sizing and have the cash: Marvin.
If you do not need the custom sizing, and have slightly less cash, Andersen 400 series.
If you are less wealthy, and cannot spend as much, lower end 200 series Andersen, or Pella, or Jeld Wen are all pretty similar to me, and I would use any if I had the contractor above.
Good luck, and let me know if you want to discuss this further or need more information!
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Thanks--super helpful. Any experience with Weathershield? What about Lincoln windows?
Yes, I have some experience with Weathershield. They were beautiful, and fully custom, but not standardized at all, so every repair was a new challenge for them. They lacked service on the back end, but were less expensive. Pella really took a bite out of that company, as did several of the other less expensive companies, so that they lost dealerships here. My recommendations are still the same.
Lincoln I am not too familiar with other than to say basic builder's grade wood windows is what they sold here in Colorado and Nebraska.
Have a great day!--David
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How would the highest end aluminum clad weathershield compare in the line-up?
Comparable to Eagle or to second tier Pella or Jeld-wen or comparable to Marvin or Anderson? Assuming comparing apple to apple lines.