When big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes opened its doors to Americans all over the US, it drove small hardware and home improvement shops out of business. Why? Because they simply could not compete with their prices and selection. But what do small specialty shops have that big box stores don't? Employees who truly know the products and care to help you.


The window industry has always consisted of small retailers and glass shops. Windows didn't make their way into big box stores until a few years ago. So how does buying windows from Home Depot or Lowes compare to a store specializing in windows? It makes a big difference and a result you will be quite surprised about.



When an employee is selling refrigerators one day and the next, selling windows, their expertise in one particular field is limited compared to the window salesman. On average, a person replaces their windows twice in their lifetime. So, its important that you find out the correct information because you want these windows to last. The unparalleled service that is offered to you at a window shop from getting a free estimate, to getting a quality installation, cannot be compared to big box.



To your surprise, most big box window prices are more expensive than window shops. Of course you can't compare what the big box stores have on the rack, so we are talking custom sizes. This common misconception that all prices in big box stores are cheaper than anywhere else is prevalent in our society. You can get a better deal with a window company because they have personal relationships with manufacturers.


Don't buy windows off the shelf if you don't have to

Most window stores do not have any windows in stock that you can pick off the shelf. So, in this regard, big box stores have an advantage. But who buys windows off the rack? Only those who are installing new construction windows. Otherwise, if you are replacing existing windows, you need to get custom made windows. One mistake many homeowners make is buying windows off the shelf at big box stores because they are cheap. Then you end up paying someone lots of money to make that window fit. Unless you are breaking the stucco and adding a new window, don't buy windows off the rack. You will spend more money trying to make that window fit than just buying a custom made window which will be sure to fit. Sure it takes more time to receive a custom window, approximately 2-3 weeks depending on the manufacturer, but in the end, you have installed a window the right way.


In the world of window shopping, understanding terminology is key. One of the most important questions to answer is what kind of installation are you interested in? There are two types of installation techniques, new construction and retrofit or replacement. Each technique is performed at different points in time and uses different tools. Lets dive into the differences.


New Construction

If you are building a new home, chances are you have hired a contractor. That contractor will build the house from the ground up. A new construction window comes with a “nail-on” flange. This is a piece that extends about an inch off the window and goes around the perimeter. This flange has spaced out holes in it so that after the framer is done framing the window, you can screw in the window to the frame. This is where a new construction window differs from a retrofit.


Now, if you are remodeling and adding windows in places that never used to have windows, you also use new construction techniques. So, you use a new construction window frame in the case that a window never existed in the place you are installing a new window.



If you currently have old, single pane windows installed in your home and you would like to replace them, this is the installation technique for you. A retrofit or replacement window comes either with a replacement flange or as a block frame. The windows are custom made to fit in place, or over your existing window. Now, the retrofit category is then broken down by the type of material your current windows are made from.



Old double hung wood windows are seen in older homes. They are very difficult to maintain and they require lots of maintenance. If you are interested in replacing your old wood windows, it's a good choice. Now, the way you replace old wood windows is you remove the inside stop, take out the old wood sashes, and install your “block” frame replacement window. What is a block frame? It is a new window which does not have any flange surrounding the perimeter of the window. So, if you look at the profile of the window, there is nothing that sticks out.



Old aluminum windows are most often replaced with vinyl windows. In this case, you order custom made vinyl windows to fit right over your existing windows. With this installation technique, the frame of your aluminum window stays in tact. You new window has a replacement or z-bar flange on the outside perimeter of the new window. This flange is there to cover the old aluminum frame so you will not see the old frame. The reason why you keep the old frame in tact is because, unless your window is leaking, you don't want to disturb the water membrane that was initially made when the house was built. The new window fits right inside the old window and you seal the window along the outside perimeter with caulking and foam in the inside. Cover with inside trim and you are all set.


There you have it. Now, time to think about what brand, material, and options you want in your new windows. Check out some of our other articles for more useful tips and information.


Milgard windows are the most prominent manufacturer across the western states. With manufacturing plants spanning from Simi Valley, California to Chicago, Illinois they've got you covered. Milgard is one of the most respected names in the industry. They have stayed committed to offering unparalleled service, groundbreaking technologies, and beautifully engineered windows and doors.


First, lets go over the different Milgard Product Lines. Milgard's product lines are broken up by material. Vinyl, Aluminum, Fiberglass, and Wood.



Style Line → These vinyl windows offer low maintenance and energy efficiency. They have a narrow profile which will give you more glass and less vinyl. This is the most cost-effective solution to old, drafty, rusty windows.

Montecito → This line of vinyl windows from Milgard is catered towards builders. It comes with a nail-on frame and is perfect for new construction projects.

Tuscany → This vinyl line from Milgard is specifically designed for replacement and remodeling applications. With a list of features other companies just don't offer, Tuscany is the top of the line vinyl window from the most trusted name in the industry.

Quite Line → This vinyl window is designed for high sound impacting areas. If your residence is located next to an airport, this is the window for you. Significantly reduce outside noise with this series.



Aluminum → For years, aluminum windows have been the go-to choice for builders and architects. Their low-profile design and sleek styling adds a modern feel to your property. Aluminum windows from Milgard come with a full lifetime warranty for residential buyers.



Ultra → This fiberglass window can be used for new construction and replacement projects. The glass fibers expands at the same rate as the glass that it holds thus reducing the stress on the seals. This series combines the elegance of a traditional wood-frame window with the strength, stability, and low maintenance of fiberglass.

Wood Clad → If you are looking for wood windows with low maintenance and at the right price, the WoodClad series from Milgard is the way to go. With this line, you get a wood veneered interior with the worry-free fiberglass exterior.



Essence → This line of wood windows is a completely new approach to making a wood windows. They feature a wood interior in pine or Douglas fir or primed wood. The outside is durable and strong fiberglass which can be painted in 15 different colors. This durable exterior coating with withstand any scratches or gouges.


 Enjoy the benefits of replacement windows from the most trusted name in the industy.



There are many options when it comes to window styles. You can replace your existing windows with a completely different style window, that's the beauty of replacement windows. Give your home a facelift with new energy efficient windows and doors. How do you select the right window style for your home? Lets find out.


First off, you have to look at the architectural design of your home. Make sure that the windows will conform to its style and characteristics. You can't always put a different style than the one which is currently installed for a number of reasons. The first reason being, some windows will not operate correctly. For instance, if you have a double hung wood window and you want to replace it will a new vinyl slider window, you may want to think twice. In this situation, if you replace a hung window with a slider, you want to make sure than the height is no more than twice the width of the window. This rule of thumb ensures that the window will operate correctly and will not tilt as you slide the sash. Lets go over the different window styles.



Horizontal sliding replacement windows provide a contemporary look with two or more sashes which slide past each other horizontally within the frame. This style window takes limited wall space, is the most adaptable configuration to practically any size wall, and is the most popular window for satisfying bedroom egress requirements. Sliders are the most popular replacement for old aluminum frames. They are easy to operate and have great insulating capabilities.

Single Hung

Single hung replacement windows, traditional in appearance, have a fixed top sash and a vertically sliding bottom sash. These are reminiscent of old-style sash windows and open without using any exterior or interior space. This style is the easiest and most inexpensive way to replace old wood double hung windows.

Double Hung

Double hung replacement windows offer a traditional look and performance. The two sashes slide vertically past each other in a single frame - use only top sash for extra safety with children or pets. Can open top, bottom, or both to maximize ventilation in any room. Cleaning is made easy with inward tilting sashes which is perfect for those hard to reach window locations. If you want to replace your old wood windows with alike new energy efficient ones, this is the style to go with. It offers you two areas for ventilating your residence.



Casement replacement windows provide the largest opening ventilation area relative to the total window opening. This style is hinged along the vertical edge and open outwards from the opposite side using a crank mechanism. Unobstructed views are a key advantage for this contemporary style. Available in a single or double style, these windows look the best from the outside. With both sashes on the same level and no track, as opposed to slider, these windows give a very clean ans refined look to your home.



Awning replacement windows are hinged along the top horizontal edge, enabling the bottom to tilt outward, which makes this style a popular choice for contemporary, modern and craftsman homes. Great for ventilating a room during poor weather. These are great to put in your garage or attic.



Bay windows are a combination of three windows which project outward and make any room look more spacious. Bay windows let you maximize your space and take advantage of multiple scenic views. This style is a great way to brighten any dining room, living room, or kitchen and give it the look of luxury. If you want to spice up your room, this is the style to go with. If you have a traditional or cottage style home, this style will truly transform the look of your home.



Bow windows are made up of four or more window units which are positioned at equal angles to make a curve. Create a breathtaking focal point and enhance the look of your property. Liven up your home by installing a bow window and you will wonder how you ever lived without one. This style is a very modern style. If you want to open up your wall to great scenic views, this is an excellent choice.



Garden windows are most often installed in kitchens and usually replace the window behind the sink. This style gives you more decorative shelf space and brings in ample direct sunlight. This style is great for creating an interior garden with the shelf space in the garden window. This style has optional single hung windows on the two sides, great for bringing in fresh air to your kitchen.



Skylights are installed into the roof of your home to give you direct sunlight. They can really brighten up a bathroom, kitchen, or any room for that matter. Generally, skylights are non-operable in order to provide you with the best possible weather seal. In recent years, companies have developed skylights which can be controlled by a remote.


What Options Should You Get?

  1. Make sure that you get the latest in glass technology. Upgraded Low-E 366 glass is the top of the line and qualifies you for the $1500 Federal tax credit. Add argon gas to it and truly enjoy the full benefits of the latest energy efficient technologies.

  2. Go for high quality windows with a reliable warranty. You won;t be making this purchase again anytime soon so choose wisely.

  3. If you live on colder climates, you may want to get the latest in glass thickness and pane technologies. Get 3 panes of glass between you and the freezing outdoors.

  4. Grids are a great way to add some character to your home. Available in many styles (flat, sculptured, v groove, simulated divided lite), many patterns, and many colors, grids are a great way to transform the look of your home.


When making a decision on window style be mindful of the functionality, operation, and ease of use of your new windows. Make sure that you match the windows with the overall style of your residence. Also, choosing the right material is just as important. Read about different window materials to find out which would be best for you.


Have you received an estimate on replacing your windows and thought you can cut some costs by installing the windows yourself? Well, replacing your windows is not rocket science, its so easy a caveman can do it...maybe not that easy. Joking aside, if you take your time and diligently learn the process of replacing windows you will be just fine.


Hurdles: Some Bumps you will have to Conquer


  1. Getting exact measurements → replacement windows and doors are custom made to fit over or in-place of your existing windows. So, it's imperative that you get the size right.

    • Existing wood windows: if you have existing wood windows, you have a pretty easy job ahead of you. All you need to do is remove the old inside stop and install the new vinyl window against the outside stop. You definitely want to buy a new inside stop to replace that old rotten one.
    • Existing windows are aluminum: if you are replacing your old aluminum windows make sure that you take off 1/8” to 1/4” off you existing window size. It is important that you give your new windows enough wiggle room just in case your existing windows are out of square.

*If you don't want to take on the responsibility of measuring your own windows for exact measurements here's what you can do. You can call up a local window company to come to your home and give you a free estimate. Make sure they give you the exact measurements and not rough. With these measurements, you can price shop and find the best deal on replacement windows and doors.

  1. If your windows are out of square: this means that your windows have shifted since their initial installation. When you replace a window that is out of square you need to make sure that you use shims in between your old and new window to ensure a square frame. If a window is out of square, it will not operate properly so make sure that you order the new window small enough to give yourself enough room to play with.

  2. Getting the necessary tools: In order to replace your windows you will need to buy a few things. Caulking, Low-Expansion foam, sealants, trim, shims, level, drill, and hammer. Make sure that you buy quality products.


So if you are the do it yourself type, windows are a perfect project for you. Take your time, do your research, and in the end you will save a few bucks and learn a new trade. If you don't want to take up the responsibility of installing your own windows, hire a contractor to do it for you. Buy the windows at wholesale prices from a window store. Make sure to purchase the best sealants and foam for your window project no matter whether you end up installing your windows yourself, or hiring a contractor.



Companies have advertised getting a free no obligation in-home estimate for years but is it truly free? Like anything in life, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


Back in the 1990's when the window replacement industry was taking off and the economy was booming, window companies could charge upwards of $1000 per window. How would they do it? First off, the average consumer knew much less about windows, their advantages, and their cost then people do now. So, companies would try hard-sell tactics. They would send a salesperson to a customer's home for a “Free In-Home Estimate” and try to sell them windows right on the spot. The salesperson would walk around the home and point out the various problems with the existing windows and how much energy the person could save if they switched to energy efficient vinyl windows. The salesman would then whip out his price book and put together a quote. He would try to tell the customer that the offer he is giving would only last until the end of the day because its so “special”. He then would grill the homeowner for three or four hours until he got them to sign a contract.


The window industry has come a long way since those good old days. With the inception of the internet, consumers have become much more educated in the window field. Also, the tides have turned with the economy so people are much more price conscious and sensitive then they were in the 90's. Companies have changed from hard sell in-home tactics to bait-n-switch showroom techniques. Bait-n-switch showroom techniques are when a company advertises they have a certain well known product to get the customer into their showroom, and then when they come in, they try to switch them to a product which is less known and they make a higher profit on. For example, everyone knows the name Milgard. They have done a fantastic job on marketing themselves to the public and really becoming a household name in the window replacement industry. Since everyone knows Milgard, many companies use the name to lure customers in. You have to understand one thing, there are thousands of dealers that sell the same windows. One company may buy windows a little cheaper than the old glass shop because of the volume that they do. But, if you were a window dealer, why would you sell a product that everyone else already has? What's your competitive advantage? Where is your profit going to come from? The more well-known a product is, the more people sell that product, the more competition there is for that product, and the less you can mark that window up because you have to stay competitive. So what do companies do?


  1. They use the bait-n-swtich tactic → They use a big name to lure the customer in and then when they come into their showroom, they point out another product which is less known but is “so” much better. They highlight the flaws in the window they actually came to see and point out the unparalleled benefits of the lesser known window. So in the end of the day, they sell you the window they make the highest percentage on.

  2. Manufacturer the windows themselves. Although this is a highly costly operation, companies who decide to manufacturer their own windows and sell them direct to the public can sell their windows at a premium. Why? They have elaborate ways of selling you the fact that they have control over every minor detail of the production process and that they are local and not a big corporation. But look at it this way, what company do you think is more successful at building windows, a multi-billion dollar company like Milgard, or some local manufacturer? Secondly, a local manufacturer could go out of business any day, a big window corporation, although not impossible, is a lot less likely to go out of business. So, if the small local company goes out of business, your warranty goes town the tubes and you are out of luck.


Back to the topic at hand, what makes a free-estimate not really free?

Well, number one, when a company sends out a salesperson to your home, someone has to  for the time, salary, gas, and automobile of that person. So if it's not you, then it's the next customer. The estimate you get at your home is free if you don't buy anything. So in that sense you are getting something free. But the next customer who buys windows will pay for that salesperson going to all those other people's houses two-fold and that's why its not free.


What you can do


Don't get caught up with companies who want to come to your home and give you a free in-home estimate. Take a tape measure and measure your own windows. Go to a few window shops and call a few places, give them the sizes of your windows, and shop for the best price. If you have questions about styles and code compliance, ask the salesperson to help you figure it out. Then, either install the windows yourself, ask a handy friend, or hire a trusted contractor to install the windows for you. You will save a bunch of money going this route and you won't get taken advantage of.



There are many window companies out there claiming “We Will Beat Any Competitor's Price” or “We have the Lowest Prices in Town” truth is, these claims have been used for so many years by so many companies that they hold no meaning. Anyone can say that they have the lowest prices but very few can actually live up to it. Getting a good deal on windows, like anything, takes time, patience, and research. When shopping for windows, don't get fooled with enticing gimmicks and impressive sounding ads.


Tips to get a Great Deal on your Windows

Window shopping can get quite stressful and confusing. With so many brands, options, and styles to choose from, its easy to get lost. Go through these tips, we assure you will get a great deal if you follow these guidelines.

  1. Decide exactly what you want. What material (vinyl, wood, aluminum, fiberglass), what brand (Milgard, Anderson, Marvin, Superior, Jeld-wen, Superior, etc.), what style (slider, hung, bay, bow, garden, casement, etc.), what glass (Low-E, obscure, tempered, etc.), and what options (grids, hardware, tint). Get a written quote so that you will have something to refer to when price shopping

  2. Go to a window shop which sells material only. This means that they do not offer installation with their windows, they just sell you the windows and doors. Even though you may want to get your windows installed, shopping for windows and installation separately will get you a better overall deal.

  3. Its okay to price shop. Window shopping is much like buying a car. Once you get your initial quote with the sizes, styles, materials, and options you want, call around and see what others will sell the same windows to you for.

  4. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Be mindful that each manufacturer has different styles within the same material. For instance: Milgard has two different vinyl replacement products. One is called Style Line and the other, Tuscany. Each is at a different price point. So, make sure that you specify which product line you are searching for when price shopping and make sure the company gives you a quote using that product.


Patio Doors

Replacing your old patio doors is a great way to dress up your home and raise your property value. Homeowners are always looking for ways to transform their home and patio doors are a great place to start. Patio doors come in a wide selection of materials , brands, and styles. From worry-free vinyl to elegant wood, you are sure to find something you'll like. Lets go over your options.



  1. Vinyl → maintenance free material, energy efficient, easy installation, will last you many years.

  2. Aluminum → easy installation, virtually no maintenance needs to be done.

  3. Fiberglass → environmentally friendly, strongest material, can be painted any color.

  4. Wood → nothing looks better than wood patio doors. They are elegant and truly beatify your home.





  1. Sliding Vinyl Patio Door → this is the most popular patio door. The most inexpensive style, sliding vinyl patio doors can be dressed up with lots of options. They can be painted a number of colors.

  2. Wide Rail/French Style Vinyl Sliding Patio Door → introduced rather recently, wide rail or french style patio doors are made to look like wood patio doors with the durability and ease of vinyl. They have more vinyl around the perimeter of each door sash to really give your home an expensive wood look.

  3. Hinged Patio Door → These patio doors are the only ones that operate like wood patio doors. They can be customized to either swing in or out and can be accompanied with optional side lites. Add grids and truly make it look like a wood patio door.



  1. Sliding Aluminum Patio Door → aluminum patio doors add a contemporary and modern feel to your home. With a very skinny and low profile, aluminum patio doors can transform your living or dining room.



  1. Sliding Fiberglass Patio Door → Sliding fiberglass doors have superior strength to the rest of the patio door materials. They have the look of wood patio doors without the maintenance requirements of wood patio doors.

  2. Foldable wall units → growing in popularity foldable patio door units look very modern. They are a great way to transform a wall into a huge patio door with unobstructed views. Bring in more light to your home with this unique patio door system.

  3. Hinged Fiberglass Patio Door → designed to resemble the look of wood patio doors, fiberglass hinged patio doors can be painted any color and give you the look of wood patio doors.



  1. Sliding Wood Patio Door → there is no material that looks as great as wood. Although you do have to worry about maintenance, wood patio doors make your property look rich. Bring your property value up with these elegant patio doors.

  2. Hinged Wood Patio Door → step through a hinged wood patio door to step onto your deck or enter your backyard. Wood hinged patio doors match many architectural home designs.


Fiberglass windows are a relatively new material compared to its wood, vinyl, and aluminum counterparts. In many ways, fiberglass windows are an improvement on wood and aluminum framed windows given their superior strength. On the other hand, fiberglass windows are worse. Lets find out why.


Fiberglass vs. Wood vs. Vinyl

  • Strength: Fiberglass windows have one huge strength.....their superior STRENGTH. Fiberglass windows are much stronger than vinyl and wood windows.

  • Greener: Fiberglass windows are more environmentally friendly. Because they are made with about 60% glass, they can be recycled.

  • Fiberglass windows look like wood but do not have to be cared for like wood windows do.

  • Fiberglass windows do not have to be painted unlike wood windows.

  • Until recently, vinyl windows were not able to be painted and fiberglass windows have always been able to be painted.

  • Fiberglass windows dress your residence up much better than vinyl windows do, but they do come at a higher price tag


Strength, Its Important

You may not think that the strength of your windows is a big deal, but it is! Wood windows tend to expand and contract with varying outside weather conditions. When your windows shift in any direction, they are much more prone to leaks and its much harder to operate them properly. Fiberglass windows will avoid any shifting, expanding, or contracting, due to weather conditions. So, once your fiberglass windows are installed properly, they will open and close with the same ease for many years to come.



Fiberglass windows are not the cheapest window material on the market. Fiberglass, because it is a relatively new technology, still has a higher price tag than aluminum or vinyl windows. Wood windows are still more expensive than fiberglass. Fiberglass windows are the future of the window replacement industry. It has growing market share and is the window material we will all start seeing more of in years to come.



Vinyl windows originated in Germany after WWII. Because of their bulky design and robust appearance, they could not find their way into the American marketplace. Then, in the 1990's vinyl windows took the window replacement and new construction market by storm, growing nearly 125% between 1992-1998. From that point on, vinyl windows have been the go-to material. Why? Lets go over the benefits of vinyl windows.



  1. Maintenance Free → Vinyl windows, unlike their counterparts, do not need to be cared for. They do not fade, discolor, rot, warp, rust, corrode, etc.

  2. Energy Efficiency → They are not a good conductor of energy therefore, unlike aluminum windows, your home will stay cool in the hot summer months and warm in the cold winter months. Because of vinyl's superior insulating capabilities, it is the only material that gets you the $1500 Federal tax credit

  3. Price → Because of the ever growing popularity of vinyl windows, they have become the most cost effective material to go with.

  4. Easy Install → vinyl windows have grown popular in part due to their ease of installation. Vinyl replacement windows with a z-bar or stucco flange are installed over your existing windows, so there is no damage to the stucco, nor the drywall. After you replace with vinyl, you don't have to do anything. Just install and start saving on your energy bills.


New Developments with Vinyl Windows


Paintable Exteriors

Recently, Color Coat technologies have created a system for painting vinyl. Before this technology came about, vinyl only came in a few colors: white, tan, almond, and clay. Now, vinyl can be painted a wide spectrum of colors so that you can beautify your residence. Choose from a hunter green to a bronze color, whatever matches your project.



Replace with Vinyl Windows

If you want to replace an existing window, vinyl is the way to go. Whether you have old style double hung wood windows or inefficient aluminum windows, vinyl will solve all of your problems.


Existing Wood Windows:

If you currently have wood windows in your home, chances are they are double hung. The most popular way of changing this kind of window without disturbing the original water membrane, stucco, or drywall, is to install a single hung vinyl window. This window, as opposed to the double hung, will have only the bottom sash operable. So the top sash will stay fixed as the bottom sash will move freely up and down. The single hung vinyl window should be installed from inside by removing the inside stop and setting the window up against the outside stop. Make sure your window is square and insulated properly with expanding foam to fill in any cavities between the window and the window frame.


Existing Aluminum Windows:

Aluminum windows are the most popular material people replace with vinyl. Why? Aluminum is a good conductor of energy, so when the sun shines onto an aluminum window, the heat passes through the material and in turn heats up the inside of your home. Same thing happens in the winter. Vinyl windows are custom made to fit over the existing aluminum window. Unless your windows are currently leaking, you always want to avoid breaking the original water membrane. Vinyl windows are then placed over the existing aluminum window, fitting over like a glove, and are sealed using caulking and sealants. Shims should be used if the window is out of square. Also, to finish off your windows from the inside, a relatively inexpensive route to go with is flat trim. Vinyl replacement windows look great with a piece of flat trim surrounding the perimeter in the inside of your home. The trim gives your window a nice and finished look.