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Community and Q&A

Choosing Replacement Windows

RBecca | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Looking at replacement windows for our old house in Minnesota zone 6- between lead times and pricing right now Inline and Duxton are looking like the primary options, triple pane, low-e, fiberglass, etc.

Would love to hear from folks with recent experience and folks that are 5+ years in – how’s your experience been? Any regrets/ accolades/ complaints?

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  1. jonny_h | | #1

    Recent experience with Inline:

    Ordered windows last summer, all triple-pane, a mixture of casement, fixed, and tilt-turn, with one sliding door. Pre-sales support was pretty reasonable -- we communicated mostly by email, although occasionally they were a bit slow to respond (but so was I sometimes, so *shrug*). Order was quoted to ship in 3 months. At the 2-month mark, I checked in and the order was running ahead of schedule, going to ship in a couple weeks. Checked in at the expected shipping time and was told the shipping department would contact me. Continued to check in periodically for a week before being told there was a delay, and the salesperson seemed like he was ready to wash his hands of me. Eventually windows showed up a month later than expected (4 months after ordering). I won't entirely fault Inline on this -- global supply chain disruptions being what they are -- but it was frustrating that the salesperson basically wanted to evaporate and stop responding as soon as things went off the rails, when all I wanted to know was when to expect delivery so I could have enough people around to unload.

    Order delivery and unloading was fine, windows come in a truck individually wrapped in plastic. Triple panes are HEAVY -- the larger ones needed 4 people to get them unloaded, and that's with a liftgate truck. Moving them around later, we discovered the shoulder dolly which works great. I also got a pair of suction cups (Woods Powr-grip) which have been extremely helpful in the installation process. My delivery happened on a straight truck with a liftgate because of access to the site, but apparently deliveries usually happen on a regular semi without a liftgate, so make sure you have a strategy for unloading, or ask for a liftgate when working with the transportation company.

    The windows themselves are solid. I got exterior frame extensions, which are aluminum, and pretty solidly assembled and well caulked. I think the aluminum profiled really help stiffen up the frames, too, especially the multi-unit mulled assemblies. They did make it trickier to figure out a good installation detail though, as well as installation process. That said, I'm still glad I got the frame extensions -- they look good, will make exterior trim easier, and do seem to significantly strengthen the frames.

    After installing a few, I'm happy with the tilt-turns and the fixed windows. The casements, not so much. I imagine I can fix some of this with hardware adjustment, but only one of the four casements unlocked and operated smoothly. One was jammed so tight that it was nearly impossible to get unlocked, and when I finally did get it unlocked we found that one piece of the latch hardware was cracked. I don't think this was installation error, either -- we followed the installation instructions, which say to open the windows a crack before screwing everything down to help with squaring the frame, and even at that point they didn't unlock smoothly. All the problem casements were, however, part of multi-unit assemblies, and I suspect that the frames may not have been held exactly square or planar when they were factory mulled.

    The tilt-turns, by contrast, all operate very well (they are very sensitive to installation though, and need some care when installing & shimming). I wish I had gone with all tilt-turn.

    The sliding door is nothing to write home about. It was very heavy, and has a lot of fuzzy weatherstripping, but from some initial thermal camera inspection, it still leaks quite a bit around the edges. There also doesn't seem to be anything holding the fixed panel in place? And the hardware is "just OK" grade.

    Post-sales support has been vaporware -- I emailed the salesperson to confirm that we received the windows, and again to ask a couple questions to clarify installation details, and received back crickets. I haven't yet contacted them about the cracked piece on one of the casements, so hopefully I'll be able to get a replacement part on that.

    To summarize, I don't regret going with Inline so far -- they were more affordable than other triple-pane options I looked at, and the majority of my windows seem high-quality. I regret getting a few casements instead of all tilt-turn or fixed. Support / communications has been a mixed bag -- not as good as I would hope, but not the worst I've seen. The delay in delivery was pretty disappointing, and set back the project a bit because they arrived at the start of winter rather than mid fall, but hey, global supply chain sucks, and realistically I was running plenty behind on my own anyway. So, overall rating is a solid "pretty ok / 10"?

    1. RBecca | | #5

      Thanks, this is very helpful, especially as we've been leaning casement over tilt and turn (but singles, not multi-unit). Do you recall what you were quoted as a cost differential between casement and tilt and turn? There's some daylight between the inline and the Duxton quote so possibly worth a thought about upgrades.

      1. jonny_h | | #9

        I don't have a direct apples-to-apples comparison, but here's a couple apples-to-pears comparisons:
        Casement, two units mulled at 27" wide x 57" tall (54" wide total): $1291
        Casement, 29" wide x 56" tall mulled with fixed, 42" wide x 56" tall: $1234
        Tilt-turn, single 30" wide x 56" tall: $909
        Tilt-turn, two units mulled at 32" wide x 52" tall (64" wide total): $1667
        Tilt-turn, 32" wide x 52" tall mulled with fixed, 60" wide x 52" tall: $1509

        The summary seems to be that going tilt-turn adds a bit, maybe $100-150 to the cost -- in talking with them, this is because the tilt-turn hardware is imported while the casement hardware is more common and locally sourced.

        For reference, all my prices are with triple-pane glass. I got a mix of LoE coatings, there was no cost difference for the coatings I got. All had exterior 2-1/4" frame extensions, strap anchors, and split finish (white interior and slate grey exterior), and all operable units came with screens.

        1. virtus | | #10

          The closest approximations are the units without fixed panes:

          Casement, two units mulled at 27" wide x 57" tall (54" wide total): $1291
          21.4 sqft at a cost of $60/sqft

          Tilt-turn, single 30" wide x 56" tall: $909
          11.7 sqft at a cost of $78/sqft

          Tilt-turn, two units mulled at 32" wide x 52" tall (64" wide total): $1667
          23.1 sqft at a cost of $72/sqft

          The first and third are a good comparison of cost between casement and tilt and turn because they are close in size. The smaller tilt and turn is more costly on a sq/ft basis because of more frame to glass. What's really interesting is how much the cost drops when fixed panes are added. The combos are around $45/sqft.

          Just for comparison, Cascadia told me to use a number of $125/sqft for planning for combination of fixed operating units; about 3x more than Inline.

  2. virtus | | #2

    How many windows do you have and are you looking to use inserts or full frame replacements? I am reviewing them all now for new construction, and based on my research, there's doesn't appear to be much difference in Duxton and Inline, but would like to hear real life experience as well.

    I just got off the phone with Cascadia. They really focus on commercial but will do residential with a 500 sqft minimum window area. They seem very well built but are about as costly as full aluminum tilt and turn.

    1. RBecca | | #6

      Last I spoke to Cascadia they quoted me a 1000sf minimum so I didn't go down that road (we're at ~300 SF anyways). Looking at full frame replacements.

  3. kyle_r | | #3

    I’ve heard good things about Enerlux.

  4. Expert Member
    Akos | | #4

    I have a bunch of low profile Inline fixed units (mix of double and triple pane), going on 8 years or so. The windows have held up well enough but I'm noticing some deterioration of the warm edge seal on the south facing windows. The plastic on the bottom which is exposed to a lot of sun is starting to crack. I don't know if this is an issue or not, but not inspiring confidence, the IGUs are still fine so far. Guess it is more of an IGU issue than a window issue though.

    1. virtus | | #7

      Inline told me their IGUs were from Cardinal, one of the largest suppliers of IGUs. Don't know if that was the case 8 years ago. If they were Cardinal, one would expect the issues to show up on many window units of many different window suppliers.

      1. oberon476 | | #13

        Cardinal uses stainless steel spacers, not foam, primarily for longevity performance.

    2. oberon476 | | #8

      Can you post a picture of the spacer that's cracking?

      1. Expert Member
        Akos | | #11

        I did a bit more reading on these. The foam part is holding the desiccant and spacing the windows apart, the actual seal is from a piece of aluminum and the perimeter caulk. This is mostly just cosmetic.

        1. virtus | | #12

          What windows are you using for operating panes and do they show the same deterioration in the spacers on the southern exposure?

        2. oberon476 | | #14

          Really hard to tell from the picture, but that looks like it could be part of the swiggle/duraseal/duralite family. If it is one of those, no way I can tell which one from the picture.

          The original swiggle used a butyl spacer material enclosing a strip of corrugated aluminum. I seem to recall either seeing or maybe hearing somethings about cracking, but mostly recall seeing and hearing about "swiggle droop" which was and still is a pretty common failure where the spacer kind of "melts" and loses adhesion to the glass or else bows up from the bottom inside the IGU airspace.
          I am not sure who if anyone is still using this product, but hopefully no one since it's way past being phased out as obsolete and a pretty poor design from day one.

          Duraseal was the follow-up to swiggle and supposedly an improvement, but still using an exposed strip of corrugated aluminum with the butyl body but supposedly less failures. This one is still being used last I heard, but I suspect most customers have moved on to Duralite.

          Duralite is the third generation of the swiggle family and it uses a strip of exposed corrugated polycarbonate rather than aluminum along with the prerequisite butyl material in it's construction. Duralite is pretty common but I suspect probably used less than superspacer (foamed silicone with a built in acrylic adhesive) among window manufacturers who either fabricate their own IGU's or outsource from one of the smaller or more local IGU suppliers. Last I heard Intercept (U channel of either tin-plated steel or stainless) is still the most widely used spacer in North America with Cardinal fabricated IGU's using stainless steel spacers being a relatively close second.

          Duralite does have the warmest edge performance of any spacer system commonly used in North America, about 1.5°F warmer at the edge than the best superspacer variant and about 2.3°F warmer than Cardinal's Endur stainless spacer.

          I am not sure what it's longevity is like compared with it's predecessors, neither of which were exactly stellar performers. And I really think it's either swiggle or duraseal when I hear of cracking, but without looking at the thing in person, it's just a guess.

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