Q&A / 

Andersen, Pella and Marvin Window Comparisons

Andersen, Pella and Marvin Comparison TIPS Just Below









Andersen, Pella and Marvin Window Comparison TIPS:

  • Look for AAMA Gold Label
  • Higher prices usually equate to high quality
  • READ installation instructions yourself - don't HOPE they get installed right
  • Watch my Marvin Window Installation VIDEO Below!
  • CLICK HERE to Get Tim's FREE& FUNNY Newsletter!

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local window installers in your city or town.

DEAR TIM: I was looking at your web page for some information on windows, specifically a comparison between Andersen casement windows and Pella. I thought I had a handle on the basics of double pane, gas-sealed, low-e, high-efficiency thermo-pane windows, but from what I've seen of Pella windows, they're not sealed at all. To me, this blows the whole "sealed = high efficiency" thing out of the water. How can Pella boast high/higher efficiency, when all they seem to do is provide two unsealed panes of glass? Am I missing something?

I know some folks swear by Pella, but to me, Andersen or Marvin seem to be a better product because their windows actually provide a sealed-space, which I thought insulated better. I like Pella's casement product from a standpoint of no chance of seal failures and fogging, plus the in-between mini-blinds, but I'm not convinced that they actually deliver the same level of efficiency. Vic Johansen, Cincinnati, OH

DEAR VIC: A good friend of mine who happens to be a CPA and a former mentor of mine taught me several years ago that numbers don't lie. When you couple this fact with independent certification numbers assigned by testing laboratories to the different windows, you have a clear-cut method of scientifically choosing top-quality windows.

Independent Testing - AAMA

If you want the best windows out there, then you want ones that carry the American Architectural Manufacturing Association's (AAMA) Gold Label. CLICK HERE to discover all about this very important certification.

Windows that sport the gold AAMA label are simply the best ones made. Period.

Pella's Old Design

Pella's window design for years has used a removable pane of glass that had a built-in gasket. This gasket, believe it or not, produced a seal that could rival those of the insulated glass you see in other windows. Pella windows can be found with ease that have insulated glass. Years ago they offered a model that married the insulated glass with a third removable gasketed glazed panel.

I've Installed Them All

I've installed all three windows, Andersen, Pella and Marvin in my jobs in the past. The last home I build for myself and my family had Marvin windows in it. They were gorgeous up-down sash windows with authentic divided lites that went perfect with the Queen Anne architecture style of the home.

I currently live in New Hampshire. I didn't build the house I'm in, but it has Andersen windows and doors throughout it. They were installed around the year 2000 and at the time this column was revisde in 2017, they all were doing well. I've not had one seal failure or any other type of problem.

The jobs where I installed Pella windows all went smoothly. Not one of my customers ever complained about their Pella windows.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local window installers in your city or town.

Correct Installation is a Must

You can't hope your expensive windows will be installed correctly. I beg you to take a little time, once you've made your decision, and read the simple installation instructions.

Be familiar with the steps the contractor must take so you don't have any water or air leaks.

Here's a video I taped years ago covering the most basic steps in the window installation process:

Expandable Foam Insulation

Read your installation instructions and see if you're allowed to use expandable foam. It provides the best seal.

But you can't use just any foam. Use the wrong one and it will expand too much causing the windows to not work, or seal, right.

You can buy a special foam that is meant to use for windows and doors. Here's one I've used with great success:

This is a brand-name foam that's meant to be sprayed around the frames of windows and doors. CLICK THE IMAGE NOW TO BUY IT.

Flashing Tape

Most new windows come with a nailing, or installation flange. This flange is integral in the frame and provides a waterproof seal.

It's imperative this flange be taped with a rubberized adhesive tape that is applied over the flange and to the sidewall of the house. 

The tape needs to be installed so it sheds water that might get behind the exterior covering of the house. The window installation instructions cover how these tapes should be installed.

Here's a great flashing tape to consider:

You can see the flashing tape framing the window. The nailing flange is beneath the wide tape. CLICK THIS IMAGE NOW TO ORDER THIS GREAT TAPE.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local window installers in your city or town.

Column QA


9 Responses to Andersen, Pella and Marvin Window Comparisons

  1. We are ready to replace the windows in our 1939 vintage Colonial house in the $1 M prox price range. I know I want wood interiors, and I want the windows to look good inside and out. We live in Seattle--moderate temperatures, so efficiency is possibly less of an issue. Also, in my professional career, I have seen how seals between panes fail. I'm not convinced that the old "storm window" removable (read not sealed) option wouldn't be the most cost effective approach. How do I factor all this into selecting the best window replacement option?

  2. I replaced 12 Pella windows in my home in 2012. The original windows were Pella double-hung installed in 1988 during construction of my home. The original windows had wood rot. The new windows are aluminum clad Designer Series, Low-E and Argon Gas filled. We cannot raise the windows, thy leak air in several places and KC South, LLC and Pella refuse to correct the problem. Actually, the only way to resolve the problem is to replace all of these windows. KC South, LLC, Pella's authorized distributor and installer of the windows abandoned the project. Help please! Suggestions greatly appreciated.

    • I'm glad I read your review. I am in the market to replace 16 windows in my Oklahoma home. After reading your comments, they will not be Pella. It seems your original windows should have lasted much longer.

    • I'd like to raise a question on your concern here. As soon as you say that you cannot raise the windows and that they are leaking air, it raises an eyebrow as to weather or not they were installed plumb and square, and with correct shimming. No matter what window brand is used, if the windows are installed haphazardly, you will experience the same problems. If this is the issue, of course the manufacturer would be unwilling to fix the issue as installation is not a manufacturing issue. If you remove the interior casing, you should find shims (at the very least) 6 in from each corner (except the very top), and shims at the check rail (this is the center rail of a hung window where the top and bottom sash meet. Also, placing a square in the frame of the window will let you know if your unit is square. Just remember, poor installation will make even the best windows look like junk.

  3. Marvin is junk and good luck getting problems fixed. When cold I have ice build up on the inside of my very expensive 2 pairs of 9′ French sliders ..not a moisture problem in house there is no moisture on glass …the ice is on the bottom wood panels, you can see the water running down the wood …all 6 wood panels are rotting and the track fills with water…the local co I bought the windows from said this was a manuf. defect…but they are 1 year out of warrantee so Marvin will not cover…so now it will cost me another $5 grand to have the panels pulled out and replaced…they have done 1 set already and the installers from the local Marvin dealer said they have done this on a lot of these Marvin windows…a very common problem. I also have a Marvin casement window that is junk. Don’t spend extra for Marvin windows the are over rated.

  4. Hi Tim
    My son has an upscale stucco home in suburban Pa that has about 1/3 of the windows rotting at the borrom corners and sill. We spoke to a Pella consultant and got an estimate. One of the things he stated was that his installation of Pella pro line 450 would use a block to raise the window up slightly and a clad exterior set of panels to trim the outside. these would allow moisture to drain to daylight. Seems logical given the places our windows rot but both marvin folks and renewal by Anderson folks seem to find this silly. What do you think? This is a big job if he does all the windows ($90K+) so w want to get it right. Also what do you think of the fiberglass options mfg use?

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