Double-hung windows--the kind that slides up and down, each sash moving independently--are the most common type of window you can buy. Because they are so widely produced, you can secure a better bargain with this window than with others, like casements, bays, bows, skylights, and custom sizes.
The range of double-hung windows from three of the highest volume window manufacturers--Andersen, Milgard, and Pella--is surprisingly varied. Each company has its own unique roster of double-hung windows.
Premium, Mid-Range, and Economy Windows
Vinyl interior with a vinyl exterior is the theme of economy windows. Wood interiors and aluminum or fiberglass exterior cladding are the marks of premium windows.
Milgard, with fewer lines of windows than Andersen or Pella, can be deemed the bargain window maker of the group; it produces what is often called a builder grade window.
Andersen is the gold standard; its E and A Series windows are favored by architects.
Pella falls between Milgard and Andersen both in window quality and prices.
All of the manufacturers have markedly different personalities when it comes to frame materials.
Andersen largely steers clear of pure vinyl. Instead, it tends to use the proprietary Fibrex material, an amalgam of 40% wood fiber and 60% vinyl. Also, Andersen only has one line with exterior aluminum cladding--E-Series--focusing on vinyl or fiberglass exteriors.
Milgard is mostly about vinyl interiors and exteriors, though it does carry one wood/fiberglass line, Essence.
Pella hits high or low, aiming for the premium wood interior/aluminum exterior market or the economy vinyl/vinyl niche. Pella has saturated the vinyl in/out market with three separate lines, 250, 350, and Encompass. Pella, too, is the only manufacturer on this list that has a fiberglass interior and exterior window.
Frame: Colors and Wood Species
When you pay more, you get more choices--both colors and wood species.
Essentially, when you choose a vinyl/vinyl window, you get the choice of white or tan for both interior and exterior. Interiors and exteriors must match. If you have white inside, you must have white outside. Pella's 350 is the only exception, with a dual-frame color option.
As windows increase in price, the number of exterior colors increases. Andersen's E-Series offers the greatest number of exterior frame colors; Milgard's Tuscany offers the least number of colors in the premium brand area.
Triple Pane Glass Options
All windows are built upon the double-glazed insulating glass unit (IGU) system. For all manufacturers and all windows (even premium), triple glazing is an option and represents an extra cost.
- Andersen: Triple pane is optional and available only on E- and A-Series windows.
- Milgard: Optional with Essence and Tuscany series windows.
- Pella: The 250 Series, 350 Series, and Encompass vinyl/vinyl windows all have triple-pane options. Three panes are available in the Designer Series, though this is not a true triple-glass IGU system. The room-side glass is not part of the gas-filled IGU. This glass can be swung open by the owner to make it easy to change out grilles, blinds, or shades.