Double-Hung Windows Compared: Andersen, Milgard, and Pella

Window Sash
Window Sash. Getty / Dorling Kindersley

Double-hung windows--the kind that slide 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 vinyl exterior is the theme of economy windows.  Wood interiors and aluminium 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.

Andersen Milgard Pella
Premium E Series and A Series Essence Architect and Designer Series
Mid-Range Quality 200 and 400 Series None 450 and Impervia
Economy 100 Series Tuscany Encompass and 250 Series

Frame: Construction

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.

Andersen Milgard Pella
Vinyl Interior, Vinyl Exterior

The 100 Series only offers single-hung windows in vinyl/vinyl.

Milgard carries two all-vinyl lines, Tuscany and Montecito. Pella's 250 Series, 350 Series, and Encompass lines are their vinyl/vinyl lines.
Wood Interior, Vinyl Exterior Andersen's 200 Series uses what they call "value wood" (actually pine) inside, with a vinyl exterior. Its 400 Series is more premium because it offers 3 interior wood species (pine, oak, or maple). None None
Wood Interior, Fiberglass Exterior A-Series windows are mainly wood and Fibrex, but they also do incorporate some fiberglass elements. Essence Series has fir or pine interiors with powder-coated fiberglass exteriors. None
Wood Interior, Aluminum Clad Exterior E-Series None

450, Designer, and Architect Series

Fiberglass Interior/Fiberglass Exterior None None Impervia

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.

Andersen Milgard Pella
Vinyl Interior, Vinyl Exterior

Andersen's 100 Series carries a limited number of colors. For interior, White or Tan. For exterior: 6 colors.

Andersen's A Series expands the number of interior woods and finishes to 6, with 11 exterior colors.

Both Tuscany and Montecito (new-construction, not replacement) have White or Tan interior frame choices only.

For both Tuscany and Montecito, the two default exterior colors are White and Tan (to match interior colors). Eight more "premium" exterior colors are available, ranging from Ivory to Espresso. However, these premium colors must be paired with a White interior frame.

Encompass and 250 Series: 2 interior and 2 exterior colors (white and tan).

The 350 series also has white and tan for interior and exterior, with the exception being that a dual-color frame is offered, allowing you one color inside and a different color outside.

Wood Interior, Vinyl Exterior With Andersen's 200 Series, you have the option of a natural wood or primed wood interior. Exterior: White or Tan vinyl. Its 400 Series expands the color palette with a total of 7 available colors. None None
Wood Interior, Fiberglass Exterior None The Essence line has 3 interior wood colors--pine, primed (white), and clear vertical grain fir. its fiberglass exterior frame comes in 16 colors. None
Wood Interior, Aluminum Clad Exterior The E-Series offers the greatest number of frame choices: 50 exterior colors, 7 interior wood species, and 9 interior wood finishes. None

The 450 Series offers 12 pre-finished wood interiors and 10 colors of EnduraClad aluminum exteriors.

Architect Series 850 has 27 exterior colors in EnduraClad and 4 species of wood interiors--alder, fir, mahogany, and pine--in 12 available finishes.

Fiberglass Interior/Fiberglass Exterior None None Impervia offers 5 interior and 5 exterior colors.

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.