Windows let light flood the home, enable us to enjoy views of the neighborhood, and keep the house cross-ventilated. But they also have to protect the interior from UV exposure and outside temperatures. Investing in quality windows is crucial when building or renovating your home, and knowing which brands to steer clear from can save you a lot of hassle when shopping around.
American Craftsman, MI Windows, and Amcraft are three of the worst window brands on the market, despite their popularity. Other window brands you should avoid include Atrium, Woodbridge, Lincoln, and SUREGUARD. Checking the energy performance label and overall quality of the frame and glass can help you weed out the low-quality windows from the good ones.
What Window Brands Should You Stay Away From?
Not all popular window brands manufacture quality windows. Our list below includes some well-liked names, but the quality is not as good as you thought. Let’s check them out.
1. American Craftsman
Owned by Ply-Gem, American Craftsman is one of the worst vinyl window brands. The name inspires trust in the same way American Standard does, even though it is one of the worst toilet brands.
But behind the trustworthy name, hide poor quality materials and windows that are not designed to last.
Sold mainly at chain home improvement stores, the brand addresses homeowners on a budget looking for low-key windows. You can save about 20% compared to high-end brands, but you can expect the windows to become loose and have latching problems.
The single and double hang models seem to have more issues than others, but you should rethink your purchase regardless of the window style you want to get from the brand.
2. MI Windows
Window sellers and homeowners across the nation generally consider MI windows to be “good enough.” They’re not completely awful but aren’t the best quality either.
However, the brand’s 3500 and 4300 Series windows seem to fall right into the awful category. These windows have a number of cosmetic issues caused by excess glue and poor attention to detail. But that’s not the worst part.
Gaps in the window frames allow frigid air to enter your home in winter, and the glass panels are so thin that ice can form on their indoor side. Condensation is also a problem. So, if you don’t want to spend your days fixing gaps between the windows and frames, you should steer clear of this brand.
Amcraft is one of the brands preferred by price-driven homeowners. Most of their windows look decent at first glance. They have good energy ratings in the brochure, but numerous homeowners complained that the windows they got are different from the ones advertised.
The main issue these windows have is with air infiltration, despite the advertised U-factor. It seems that the manufacturer glues the frame corners with multiple layers of vinyl that get unstuck easily and let the air pass through.
In time, these gaps can get wide enough to be visible to the naked eye. Overall, the Amcraft windows are not a reliable long-term solution.
Crestline is another popular manufacturer of new construction and replacement windows. The company offers a wide range of options, from standard to floor-to-ceiling windows. Like Amcraft, they look great at first glance, and the energy ratings seem decent.
In reality, these windows are notorious for their condensation problems. Moisture generally builds up on the interior panel. However, condensation might also appear between the two vinyl panels, and it could lead to permanent fogging.
The brand’s customer service is also poor, but the worst part is that replacement parts are hard to come by. Overall, this is another brand you should avoid.
5. Woodbridge Home Solutions
The company is known for its aggressive sales campaigns (door-to-door salespeople, phone calls, emails, you name it). Like trained salespersons, the Woodbridge Home Solutions agents even manage to convince a large number of people to buy windows from the brand.
Too bad that these windows don’t match the advertised quality. The main problem is with holes and gaps in the frame.
Sure, the frames are filled with foam, but creepy crawlers like ants and bugs have no trouble pushing the insulating material out of their way and getting into your home. Air infiltrates easily, too, leading to condensation and mold and mildew problems.
Another reason to steer clear is the aftersales and field team. Most homeowners complain about installation issues and a lack of customer support.
Overall, the windows from Atrium have decent quality. They last for years and are built better than other windows on this list. How did they earn their spot here, then?
Well, a decent quality product isn’t enough to call a brand good. And beyond its windows and doors, Atrium is one of the worst brands to deal with.
The customer service is horrible, and the brand denies responsibility in most cases – even when the windows are still in warranty. It refuses to grant the warranty for problems that aren’t the buyer’s responsibility, including windows that were delivered scratched or with shattered panels.
Replacing broken windows, even when you are willing to pay for them, is also a hassle. You can save yourself the trouble and shop elsewhere.
Lincoln is another popular brand manufacturing double-paneled Thermopane-style windows. At first glance, their products seem stellar. U-factors vary from about 0.28 to 0.46, depending on the frame and glass type.
What few people know is that Lincoln windows start to fall apart quickly after installing them.
Broken seals between the glass and the frame enable the insulating gas to leak out. Once outside air and moisture make their way between the glass panels, you can expect condensation and fogging issues. Mold can also build up in the space between the glass panels and under the broken seals.
8. Window World
Higher prices compared to other low-quality window brands may lead you to believe that Window World windows are worth it. However, the contrary is true.
Not only is the company known for its terrible customer support, but the windows are actually made of scarce quality materials.
Cold weather performance is incredibly poor, but you might chill down your house in winter even if you’re living in a warm-temperate area. Air leaking and condensation are other frequent problems.
If you don’t mind poor customer and aftersales support, SUREGUARD may not disappoint you. However, the lack of attention to detail can make your whole experience terrible.
Even when buying through a local dealer, it is easy to end up with the wrong windows delivered to your door. The company is slow in solving issues, and getting the windows you actually bought can take up weeks (or months!).
Things can get worse if you’re also opting for in-house installation. However, if you want to install the windows yourself (or hire a dependable contractor) and don’t mind waiting, the windows from the brand have decent quality.
Vytex is another praised brand that disappoints most customers. The company manufactures several series of decent replacement windows, but the problem is that replacement parts are only available for a few of them.
While the company may offer to replace broken parts with compatible ones, the windows can have a negative impact on your house’s resale value. If you plan to sell your property, you should choose a more reliable brand.
The customer service is also slow in addressing concerns and solving issues.
What To Look For When Choosing Windows?
While you may not care about investing in quality windows, some people do. And those people could be the potential buyers of your property if you plan to sell.
Thus, the first thing to look for when choosing windows is the brand. Stay away from the ones above and choose reliable manufacturers.
Another thing to check is the energy rating. Most brands disclose the energy rating of their windows on their website or the product brochures. If you can’t find any information about it (which is a huge red flag), you can search the brand name on the National Fenestration Rating Council.
While NFRC doesn’t disclose the actual ratings, it has a set of standards members must adhere to. Finding the brand name listed on their website is often an indicator of quality.
You should also check brand-specific window ratings before buying. Homeowner opinions can give you the best insights into a brand’s quality and reliability.
What Is The Most Reliable Window Brand?
Deciding which is the best window brand is challenging, but there are a few trustworthy players on the market. Here’s a list of brands you can trust:
- Marvin Windows and Doors
- Pella Corporation
- Milgard Windows
Does Brand Matter For Windows?
You may not be big on brand names, but being able to tell between the best and worst window brands is crucial. Brand matters for windows, and not only from a quality standpoint. You should also consider the warranty, customer support, and replacement part availability. Moreover, quality windows can enhance your home’s resale value.
Sure, the best brands are expensive. Yet, the quality of the windows, lengthy warranty, and efficient customer support will be well worth your investment.