I recently needed to replace all the windows in my 1950’s home in Alexandria, VA.  I decided I would explore every option to experience what consumers are up against when making this expensive and common upgrade. The results shocked me.

Conclusion: You could accidentally spend triple the amount on similar windows! This clip will explain:


I needed 30 windows, a number that surprised me. I did some searches and put together a list of 10 suppliers of windows in different categories.

  1. The media driven company.  In my case it was Thompson Creek.  For years I had heard this name through radio advertisements across multiple stations as well as radio personalities endorsing this company.  They made claims such as “windows built specifically for our local climate”. And so I took the bait and called.Answering the phone for the company was a representative that took my name and address but then proceeding into a long line of questioning.  “What window issues are you trying to solve”? What a weird question.  Umm, they are 60 years old…  “Who owns the house”?  “Will all the owners be present when the salesman arrives”?

    The day arrives, the salesman showed up with his mini window display and breaks out into a full on presentation about why they make the best window in the whole wide world.  I admit, their product is nice, just not $1,000 per window nice.  That is the figure the salesman tossed at me.  When I objected the very coincidental 30% off for no reason sale was offered.  Nice try, beat it.

  2. Manufacturers.  Pella, Anderson, and Jeldwen all have local installers/distributors that sell their brand of window.  Since the companies didn’t have actual staff that come to sell the windows it was a range of personalities and tactics that may or may not reflect how these companies want windows to be sold.  Still the pricing was between $650-$800 per window. Ouch, see ya later.
  3. Independent window distributors with retail locations. There are several of these in our area that maintain retails locations.  Their sales people tend to be easier to deal with.  In the case of the two companies I dealt with the person who came to the house wasn’t able to give out pricing.  They measured, talked about the company and left.  An office based sales person followed-up with figures a day or so later. $400-$500 per window.  Better.
  4. DIY.  I needed to get to the bottom of this window pricing.  I set out for the two local big box stores.  The experience was similar at both locations and didn’t instill any sort of confidence whatsoever.  They asked 20 questions about various dimensions and styles that I wanted for each window.  At several questions I asked, “what exactly is that”?  “We usually choose this one”. Uh ok.  Hope that’s not important.  Bottom line, $150-$165 per window.  Wow thats cheap! Well yeah because all that gets you is a big pile of windows with questionable options stacked in a pile for you to pick up at the local store.  Lets hope you gave them the right measurements.What it doesn’t include is labor.  Not only is the labor necessary for removing and installing it is very important when it comes to the final appearance.  The worst thing you could do is have a window look like a DIY project.  That scares people.  If he did this, what else did he do?  And while successfully installing a window is not extremely difficult that isn’t the hardest part.

    I have a brick exterior.  After the new windows are installed there is a gap between them and the brick.  A DIYer would use a wood molding to fill the space.  A professional uses aluminum capping. Using a large machine called a brake, they carefully shape the pieces that surround each window.  This takes skill to fashion every piece for a perfect fit.  After installing all the aluminum and running a fresh bead of caulk, a professional appearance is achieved.  The DIY install sans aluminum capping could be anything but professional.

  5. The just right, AKA Goldilocks company.  I call up Window World off a good recommendation from a friend.  They setup an appointment, in 3 minutes without any crazy line of questioning. Salesman shows up on time with a form in his hand.  “What’s that”?  “Our order form”.  A list of every product line they offer, every option and most importantly the pricing.  Simple, just fill it out and add it up.  Very simple and very clear, something no other company had achieved. About $300 per window and I was sold. Done deal.