Q&A / 

Anderson Windows

Anderson Windows is a major window manufacturer here in the USA. The actual spelling of their name is Andersen Windows, but since many people know the common surname of Anderson, they misspell it. In fact, my best friend’s name is Richard Anderson! So you can see why there’s the confusion. I’m sure the misspelling frustrates the executives at Andersen Windows, but by now they surely understand that it’s just going to keep happening.

When I was still building each day, I purchased and installed hundreds of Anderson windows. Many of my jobs called for them. At the time, I seem to remember a statistic that Anderson windows were so popular the number of windows made each day at the giant Anderson factory in Minnesota was more than all the windows made each day by quite a few of the major manufacturers at the time.

I was never able to confirm this, but I can tell you that Anderson windows were enormously popular in the 1970’s, ’80’s, and are still very much in demand. They have a very strong brand. The house I’m living in here in New Hampshire has all Anderson windows and doors. The windows and doors here seal as tightly as any windows or doors I’ve ever owned.

Look at how faded the green vinyl is. The dark patch is close to the original color. It's darker because a large tab from the insect screen blocks the sun from hitting the sill. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

I remember installing my first Anderson window. It was a room addition nightmare where the original contractor disappeared from the job. All that was in place was the foundation, and some of the wall framing. I was working with some partners at the time and we were able to finish the roof, install the Anderson windows and doors as well as the vinyl siding. By the time we got the addition weather proof, the owners had run out of money. To this day I don’t know if the inside was ever finished, but I assume it was.

I’ll never forget how easy it was to install the windows. This job required Anderson casement windows. These operate with a crank and open just like a door by swinging out past the wall plane of the house. The vinyl-coated wood windows had this wonderful nailing fin that had prepunched holes. You set the window in the rough opening, plumbed it and then nailed the fin to the exterior sheathing. We used house wrap at the time to flash the window, because back then the fancy flashing tapes were not yet invented.

My first major Anderson windows replacement job was at my father-in-law’s house. He asked me if Anderson Windows were a great choice, and I said yes. The only issue was that these windows were not available in custom sizes. You had to get the windows close in size to the wall opening and then use vinyl-coated pieces of wood to fill all the gaps between the edges of the windows and the exterior brick of his home. It wasn’t really that hard to do, it just took extra time. These were installed in early 1980’s and they still look spectacular today.

Many Anderson windows are vinyl-coated wood. That’s primarily what I installed and what are in my New Hampshire house. The vinyl coating really protects the wood, but the darker colors do fade over time. I have the deep-green vinyl coating on my windows here in New Hampshire, and the ones that face East have severe fading. Be aware of that as you choose your exterior color. My windows are only seven years old as I write this.

Anderson windows hardware is very stylish. The hardware for both the windows and doors comes in a number of finishes, and it’s very sleek. I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the hardware. My suggestion is to always buy extra hardware at the time you buy the windows in case you need spare Anderson window replacement parts at a later date. You can’t always count on getting the same locks or crank handles, so just spring for the parts, place them in a plastic bag and screw the bag to the top of the pegboard in plain sight at your workbench.

If you plan to buy and install Anderson bay windows, pay strict attention to the installation instructions. It’s vital that bay windows have proper support using brackets below the window or cables that provide lift at the top of the bay-window corners. Without support, the window will torque out of shape and the sashes will not open and close smoothly, nor will they seal correctly.

Pay attention to the Anderson windows glass when you purchase your windows. They have several different types of high-efficiency glass. They also have a special glass that stays cleaner on the outside. I’m sure it’s nanotechnology at work in keeping the glass clean. Try to buy the most efficient glass you can afford as the glass is the weakest R-value link in your entire home. If you live in the house for a long time, the extra money you spend on the best glass will eventually pay you dividends.

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