GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Test driving windows

Nat . | Posted in General Questions on

I’m just entering what is the seemingly very opaque world of buying windows. Am I missing something or is this something that is mostly bought sight unseen? So far it seems that most of the window manuf’s, even the huge ones, don’t have big showrooms where I can feel how the windows operate, close, ‘feel’, look etc. Given that this is a massive expense I’m finding this hard to believe. Best I’ve found so far is that they send me to drive 2 hours to a hardware store that has a few particular models.  Is this the case? This seems crazy – they cost more than a car and you can’t see/touch them?

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Jamie B | | #1

    I don't know much about the specifics of window manufactures, but I remember a few years ago setting up appointments and driving out to several window manufactures showrooms to do just that, see them and feel them and talk options and performance.

    Of course once it gets installed in your own product looks and feels nothing like what you felt at the showroom...

    But the showrooms are out there.

  2. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #2

    For the big names like Marvin, Andersen, Pella, etc., you can usually find a local dealer that has the windows displayed in their showroom. For the high-performance windows that many folks on this site are contemplating like Zola, Unilux, Alpen, etc., you probably need to hit a trade show to see them. Of the shows I have been to, NESEA seems to have the most high-performance window manufacturers exhibiting. The Passive House, PHIUS shows also have quite a few.

  3. Peter L | | #3

    The answer as to WHY there are not showrooms for a lot of window manufacturers (especially the smaller companies) is a financial reason. It costs a lot of $$ to buy or lease storefront space and then pay hourly employees and utilities. These costs get passed onto the consumer (that's you!). So they have to build "cheaper" made windows to cover the expenses of operating a storefront.

    Quality high-performance windows like Alpen have local sales reps that will visit you with window samples so you can see them in person. That saves on operating expenses for the company so you pay for a high performing window. Unlike paying for a store front and employees standing around for hours doing nothing.

    It's the way it is. Storefronts, like malls, are becoming a thing of the past.

    1. Nat . | | #4

      Interesting - I never imagined that they'd come to me, but that sounds great. Thanks for the info.

      1. Peter L | | #5

        What state are you in?

        1. Nat . | | #6

          NY State (upstate)

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |