We are often asked where is the best place to buy replacement windows. You have a lot of choices; retail lumber yards, home builders, big box retailers like Home Depot, general remodelers, factory direct manufacturers, or the specialty exterior remodeling specialist dealership. We believe the well trained, experienced exterior remodeling specialist dealership offers the best value for you the consumer. Let’s go through each choice.
Retail lumberyards by their very name offer mainly lumber, and then lots of other products. There is no way they can really become expert on everything they offer, and they traditionally focus on low price as their selection process for what products to offer. If they offer installation at all, it is usually by a local contractor who probably is not trained in professional window installation techniques. Low price does not mean good value; you really do usually get what you pay for.
Homebuilders only move into remodeling when they don’t have homes to build. They are not experts on what is available on the retrofit market, the intricacies as to what makes a good efficient window or the true proper installation of the products. Most, not all, builders focus on commodity products in building homes, buying what is the least expensive and easiest to get – often whatever their building supply house offers. They are used to installing into raw frames, not finished and trimmed home interiors and exteriors.
Big box retailers are just that – BIG. They offer literally thousands of different products and from our experience they are not truly expert on any of them. High volume and price is their main prerequisite for choosing what products and services to offer. If they offer installation at all, it is from a local contractor they hire to do the work who would not be working for them if they were professional enough to have their own independent business offering windows.
General remodelers like lumberyards offer all kinds of services. They mostly focus on the glamor areas of homes, the kitchen and bath, or do big projects like room additions. Most of them offer windows as a cash flow product, and really don’t know much about the products or the intricacies of installation. They also face the same problems as builders above.
There are a number of companies that make windows and sell them directly to the consumer. They say in that way you have just one place you're dealing with, the manufacturer is the installer. If you think about that, there are no checks and balances in this equation; if the window is measured, made or installed poorly or incorrectly, it is incumbent on them to find a way to make it work, rather than returning it for a properly made new product, as the costs are all in one place. Also, these companies are usually smaller fabricators and have very limited product offerings, especially when it comes to options – grid types, colors, various models in each type of window, glass (glazing) choices, specialty shapes, auxiliary products, etc.
The professional exterior home improvement specialists by the very definition are “specialists”. They focus on the exterior of homes: windows, doors, siding, gutters and sometimes roofing. Some of them even focus more closely on just one or two of these items – windows and siding for example. They know their products inside out. They know what products are available to them and where to get them. They are usually professionally trained on the options, window performance, testing methods and procedures and all the industry “terms”. They are free to choose the manufacturer that they think offer the best products to give you the best VALUE, not the lowest or highest price. They are trained to learn what is important to you and your home and then choose the appropriate product that will most closely fit your needs. Further, and often most important, they are trained on proper installation techniques. The best window can perform poorly if badly installed, and the worst window can be almost acceptable if installed really well. Don’t underestimate the importance of a focused professional. They know their products intimately; none of the other options mentioned offer this level of expertise.