2. Compare Windows

What makes a good window, and what makes a great one?

In this section, you’ll learn to spot the features you’ll want to look for as you compare your options. From materials to construction to beauty and performance, you’ll be armed with the information you’ll need to make a decision you’ll be satisfied with for years to come.

Making the Most of your Investment

When considering replacement windows, many people tend to focus on the cost savings they’ll enjoy through increased energy efficiency in their home. But one benefit many overlook is an almost instant increase in their home’s overall equity. In some cases that increase is more than the cost of replacement!

Materials

Most replacement windows are made of vinyl. It’s the material of choice because of its cost, energy efficiency and maintenance freedom. But not all vinyl windows are alike. Look for things like high performance Low- E glass, foam insulation in the sashes and frame, quality hardware and the best air infiltration ratings (lower than .15 CFM).

Styles

Windows come in virtually unlimited shapes and sizes. They are available in either stock or custom sizes and configurations, decorative grids, and multiple interior and exterior frame colors. There are many different styles, any of which can be combined to transform the style and feel of any room. The only limit is your imagination.

Options

Think about your objectives when evaluating options. Are you looking for pure beauty, energy efficiency, durability or all of the above? And what about security? Upgrades such as triple paned glass, krypton filling, and enhanced locks and hardware can address these needs.

3rd Party Certification

NFRC – the National Fenestration Ratings Council measures a window’s tested energy efficiency via its resistance to heat flow (U-value), Solar Heat Gain and Visible Light Transmittance. NFRC ratings reference a window’s quality when brand new.

AAMA – an American Architectural Manufacturers Association Gold Certification is the mark of both initial quality and durability. It shows how well a window will hold up against air and water infiltration over years of use.

ENERGY STAR – a voluntary partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and the window industry. Windows bearing the ENERGY STAR logo meet minimum requirements for energy efficiency, based on quality and geographic area.

FAQ

Wood, aluminum and vinyl are the most common materials for replacement windows. Most people choose vinyl for its impressive insulating qualities, easy maintenance and numerous color and style choices, as well as its overall lower cost. More vinyl windows are sold for replacement projects than any other type of window.

Many windows look the same, but they’re definitely not created equal. Look for a high-quality vinyl that resists dirt and is easy to clean. The hollow vinyl frames and sashes can be filled with foam insulation for better energy efficiency.  In addition, glass upgrade options featuring Low-E coating and gas-filled dual or triple pane glass can provide the best thermal performance for your home, saving you even more money in energy costs. Also look for high performance weather stripping and intruder-resistant locking hardware, as these features ensure a very tight seal when the window is closed and locked.

Look for high quality materials. With vinyl windows, an environmentally friendly foam insulation in the frame and sashes can make a big difference. Also, installation is critical – a poor seal to the existing wall will ruin the energy efficiency of any window.

Look for multiple panes, argon or krypton gas fillings between panes, and advanced “Low-e” coatings. These help let light and beauty in while reducing interior fading and keeping hot or cold weather out. It’s also important to check a window’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient. Sunlight brings heat into your home, and depending on the season and where you live, this can either help or hurt your energy bill.

Weather stripping is a crucial yet often overlooked feature which can make or break a window’s efficiency. Look for stripping that’s made of advanced materials, and for locks and latches that compress it fully to create a truly airtight seal. Also ask where hardware is fastened – it’s preferable to fasten to the structural reinforcement, rather than the vinyl surface.

The Internet has changed forever the way people buy windows. You don’t want to be “sold”; you want to be educated and informed so you can make the decision that’s right for you. Use our Buyer’s Checklist; browse AAMA, NFRC and other internet sites. We compare our products with our competition frequently in these same ways. Through these industry associations, defined scientific methods contrast one window’s performance against another. Ask your SoftLite Dealer or contact us directly if you need more information.

Vinyl is very easy to wipe clean and requires no special care or treatment after installation. It’s no surprise to us that nearly all wood window manufacturers are now offering their own lines of vinyl windows. Look for constant-force coil-spring balancers that never need adjusting. Choose windows that are completely fusion-welded at all corners by robotic equipment that ensures consistency. Insulating glass featuring a “metal-free” spacer will best fight condensation.

Not sure what you need? No worries. Our professional dealers are here to help.

What People Say

Hannah
Hannah
Charlotte, NC
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We love our new windows! We purchased an older ranch home with original 1950 windows and the drafts in each room were awful! Not only is our home far more energy efficient, but looks way better from the inside and out! We also love being able to easily open the windows from the top or bottom!
Michael
Michael
Chicago, IL
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We replaced thirteen original wood windows in the upstairs of our 112-year-old house. We were worried that the new vinyl windows would lack the charm and warmth of the old ones, but we were wrong. The Imperial Elite windows look fantastic. We were even able to duplicate the original pattern of the grilles in living room windows, preserving both the interior look and the curb appeal. Instead of hiring window washers with tall ladders, we can now clean the windows with ease ourselves thanks to the tilt-in feature.
Chloris
Chloris
Rockville, MD
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We have done many research on different brands of windows before we decided on SoftLite. We are happy with this decision. They are very stylish windows and easy to open and close.
Steve & Marsha P.
Steve & Marsha P.
Charlotte, NC
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We love watching birds and squirrels from our kitchen table and were not able to with our old windows. Now with our new SoftLite windows it's as if there was nothing between us and the birds. And the windows look great. Thanks, Steve & Marsha P.
Laura
Laura
Lake Wylie, SC
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We are very pleased with the quality of these windows and doors! We love the low-e coating and are looking forward to the extra saving on our utility bill. We love the quality and craftsmanship of these products. We will definitely be purchasing more and spreading the word to friends and family!
Elaine
Elaine
Charlotte, NC
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We researched like maniacs!! There are so many replacement window options and even more companies to choose from! It can be extremely overwhelming, and we quickly experienced information overload. In order to come to an informed decision, we narrowed it down to two factors - a quality, trusted manufacturer and a company with a stellar reputation. We overwhelmingly decided on Classic Plus windows by SoftLite. We are so happy with our windows. Quality, cost, install, and follow up has been beyond our expectations.
Pamela
Pamela
Evanston, IL
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I LOVE my new SoftLite windows! They are so easy to operate and clean and they look AMAZING!
Nancy
Nancy
Peachtree Corners, GA
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We are loving our windows so far! Our 40-year-old house had all original windows, which were single-paned and in rather poor shape (some wouldn't open, the ones that would open wouldn't stay open, no screens, etc). Our air conditioner broke at the beginning of the summer and we haven't been able to get it replaced yet, but our new windows have kept the house much cooler during the day and we're able to open them at night, making the summer bearable. We love them!
S.S.
S.S.
Chicago, IL
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Replaced our beat up casement windows (half of them didn't open/ close properly and were starting to rot and some were drafty) with double hung. It's so nice to have windows that work, look nice and keep the heat out in the summer and cold out in the winter. We didn't like having to buy new windows for a house that was less than 12 years old (we had only been there for a few years) but it was some of the best money we ever spent!
Jonathan
Jonathan
Charlotte, NC
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We love our new windows! Cost effective, energy efficient and look great to top it all off. Would definitely recommend to friends and family.
Joseph
Joseph
Cornelius, NC
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These windows are far superior to what we had and the other windows we have in the house in terms of energy efficiency and quality.
Michael
Michael
Salisbury, NC
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After comparing many brands of vinyl replacement windows such as those found in big box stores and national brands, SoftLite was a superior quality window. They had a very competitive price. We are very happy with the results! We updated our 1965 ranch home home to be energy-efficient and more updated in style and function. The windows feel solid. They open and close well, and they don’t fall when you open them. The Classic Plus line has great features and a great price point. We never thought replacing windows for the entire home was possible for us till we found the Classic Plus line.
Kevin
Kevin
Charlotte, NC
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My wife and I are exceedingly pleased our Classic Plus SoftLite Windows. We love the quality of the product installed on our home. The windows look incredible and are an absolutely perfect fit. Simply, we could not be happier. These SoftLite windows have made us feel that we have made a significant investment in the quality of our home.
Cathleen
Cathleen
Silver Spring, MD
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Beautiful new bay window in my kitchen. I love it and my cats do, too.
Lisa
Lisa
Charlotte, NC
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Love these windows. They are so beautiful. Really enhances curb appeal of home. So easy to use. Love the way they function for cleaning too.
Frank and Margie
Frank and Margie
Falls Church, VA
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We are very happy with our new windows. They are easy to open and clean and they close and lock securely with very little effort. No more drafts!
Stephanie
Stephanie
Greensboro, NC
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We love our new windows. They are more energy efficient. With the slight tint, we can see outside great but people can’t see in.
Rusell
Rusell
Gaithersburg, MD
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I was very pleased with the quality and features of our new Pro series windows. The dealer was equally superb and professional from the sales process through installation.
John
John
Charlotte, NC
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The windows look great and I can already tell how well they are working. The house is no longer drafty. I really like how easy they are to open and tilt for cleaning. My only concern is how we will install blinds as the replacement window frame leaves a very shallow space for mounting the blinds.
Paul
Paul
Barefoot Bay, FL
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We are very pleased with these windows. The sliding mechanisms are nice & smooth. The picture windows are beautiful. Well done SoftLite!
Jarrod
Jarrod
Gastonia, NC
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The windows look and operate wonderfully! We couldn't be more pleased. We were hesitant to replace our old wooden windows in a historical home but the windows we purchased fit in wonderfully! They're very well constructed and we've already noticed a noise and heat/cool transfer reduction.
Nancy
Nancy
Fairborn, OH
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We are very satisfied with our windows. The house is warmer and there is less noise from the freeway. They are beautiful windows.
Kevin
Kevin
Charlotte, NC
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After only two weeks of springtime here in the South the windows have made a dramatic difference. The afternoon sun beats down on our house with these new windows I am able to sit at my desk comfortably and the AC has not turned on. They're incredibly easy to lift and lower, my 7 year old can do it without any issues.
Kristin G.
Kristin G.
Kennesaw, GA
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I’m so happy with my new windows. They look great! Outside noise has been drastically minimized and I look forward to lower utility bills after replacing the original windows in this 1954 building.
Christopher
Christopher
Plainfield, IL
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Great windows! This is our first winter with our new SoftLite Imperial Elite windows and the difference in comfort in our house is amazing. The Low-E glass really helped with the summer sun last year too. We've had the windows for 10 months now and are completely satisfied.
Tony
Tony
Monroe, NC
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We are very happy with our windows and they exceeded our expectations!
Katie
Katie
Charlotte, NC
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So far I'm LOVING everything about these windows. They're beautiful and efficient!
Carolyn
Carolyn
Charlotte, NC
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I love my new windows! It’s like opening a gift every time I open them wide to let the warm air into the house!
Natalie
Natalie
Chicago, IL
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From my experience with SoftLite windows, I expected the sliding patio door to be wonderful, and it is. The door slides effortlessly, the screen door pull is designed to protect the screen by keeping your fingers away from it, the extra lock is easy to operate with your foot, and the structure of the door is quite airtight.
Pam
Pam
Harrisburg, NC
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Thrilled with our new windows! Just installed yesterday and I’ve already noticed a difference in energy use and sound insulation.
Dina
Dina
Charlotte, NC
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I am very happy with my windows. The function and look is worth the money. It gave my older home a nice facelift.
Susan
Susan
Statesville, NC
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The windows are very good replicas of the originals without the headaches associated with single pane glass and ropes and weights and make the house look well cared for. Thank you SoftLite.
Tony
Tony
Harrisburg, NC
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Love the new windows! Outside noise has been cut down a good deal. We replaced original windows that were 20 plus years old with SoftLite windows. The crew that installed the windows were great and even worked around my crazy work from home, double-shift schedule.
Megan
Megan
New Carlisle, OH
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Great windows, great dealership who we purchased them from and completed the installation. Love the updated look to our home.
Phyllis
Phyllis
Pineville, NC
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Love the new window. Looks beautiful and almost identical to my older windows which is what I was looking for. Could not have been an easier process. Thanks.
Jim
Jim
Matthews, NC
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Thanks for the gorgeous upgrade to our rooms. Quiet, comfortable temperature, and beautiful!
Adam
Adam
Charlotte, NC
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Love our new windows. No more drafty house or unwanted outside pollutants. Easy to maintain and look great.
Steve
Steve
Marshville, NC
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We're very happy with our windows, we think we made a wise choice over other competitors.
Kate
Kate
Charlotte, NC
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We love our new windows. They are easy to open and clean. Less noise from outside is a plus too. We'd definitely recommend them to our friends and family.
Marc
Marc
Charlotte, NC
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Very happy with the windows!
Patricia
Patricia
Charlotte, NC
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I love them. Very easy to open and clean them. The house already feels warmer. It is 50 degrees outside and no drafts or feeling chilly in here. I have the thermostat set at 66 and usually set it is 69 or 70 and we were cold. I am looking forward to a lower gas bill.
Crystal
Crystal
Charlotte, NC
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Best windows ever at a great price. So happy that we chose this company. Installation Crew was awesome. Entire experience awesome. Windows are awesome
Richard
Richard
Frederick, MD
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SoftLite windows have changed our screen porch into a lovely 3 season room.
David
David
Charlotte, NC
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Our dealer in NC did a fantastic job representing themselves and SoftLite windows. The windows look great, and have a slightly larger glass area than other lines we considered, which was important to us. I would recommend SoftLite to anyone researching vinyl windows. Excellent value.
Eric
Eric
Chicago, IL
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Your casement windows are so beautiful and energy efficient. The glass lets in tons of light. When open they let in refreshing breezes and when closed they seal out cold air and urban noise.
Jorge
Jorge
Germantown, MD
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It is so wonderful to be able to see clearly out of our windows and all of a sudden it is a little quieter in our home. Beautiful product and installation.
Sandra
Sandra
Cumming, GA
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We love our new windows and would recommend them to all of our friends.
Gerri
Gerri
Lansing, MI
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The new SoftLite windows are amazing. They replaced original windows in my house built in 1929. They are beautiful and quiet. Noise stays out and heat/air stays in.
Richie
Richie
Mooresville, NC
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Our new windows are beautiful and easy to use. I would definitely recommend to anyone.
Dante
Dante
Huntersville, NC
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Beautiful windows!! The house is cooler and quieter!
Christopher
Christopher
Greensboro, NC
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These SoftLite windows were easy to install and the look gives any old house that new modern look.
Kurt
Kurt
Alexandria, VA
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All our windows and doors in our home are now SoftLite - great products - we're very happy with them!
Aaron
Aaron
Matthews, NC
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These windows are incredible! Beautiful and really insulate the house well.
Dianna
Dianna
Springfield, OH
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Love my new windows!
Will
Will
Smyrna, GA
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Good windows. Quick install and easy to operate.
Neil
Neil
Charlotte, NC
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Very pleased with my new windows.
Jon
Jon
Harrisburg, NC
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I couldn’t be happier with my windows!
Katherine
Katherine
Charlotte, NC
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We love our new windows.
Crystal
Crystal
Statesville, NC
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Finally functional and we can see our back yard for the first time in years!
Frederic
Frederic
Strongsville, OH
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These SoftLite Kingsroyal Glide Patio Doors are everything I anticipated!
James
James
Charlotte, NC
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Love the windows!
Gregory
Gregory
Chicago, IL
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Nice high quality windows, as far as I can tell!
Christine
Christine
Gaithersburg, MD
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The SoftLite Pro windows are beautiful. I am very happy with them.
Kenneth
Kenneth
Maple City, MI
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Great looking window, great installers - Advanced Window Systems, Traverse City, MI.
William
William
Atlanta, GA
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Fantastic job!
Jennifer
Jennifer
Dallastown, PA
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Easy to use and look great in our rental property!
Max
Max
Charlotte, NC
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SoftLite windows transformed my backyard patio into a sunroom.
James
James
Charlotte, NC
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We love our beautiful new SoftLite Windows!
Laurent
Laurent
Reston, VA
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Everything was great. Very nice and clean looking windows.
Karen
Karen
Charlotte, NC
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Love the new look to my bathroom. Beautiful window.
Barney
Barney
Iron Station, NC
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Solid product. We were sold on the quality of the materials.
Brittany
Brittany
New Berlin, WI
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We love our new windows. Very affordable and they look so nice. They are not at all drafty like our old windows and the biggest perk to me is the ease of cleaning!
Nick
Nick
Greensboro, NC
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Windows look so much better than my old windows.
Susan
Susan
Charlotte, NC
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The window looks nice.
Daniel
Daniel
Fort Mill, SC
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Great window, very happy.
Richard
Richard
Catawaba, NC
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These windows look wonderful and the entire experience was better than expected!! Hurray!
Leonard
Leonard
Charlotte, NC
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Great windows.
Michael
Michael
Charlotte, NC
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Looks great!
Suk C.
Suk C.
Fort Mill, SC
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The windows look good! Thank you.

From the Blog

  • How to Maximize Energy Efficiency with Replacement Windows
    by SoftLite Windows & Doors on March 24, 2021 at 1:54 PM

    Taking into account a home’s thermal efficiency can help not only your wallet but can increase the overall comfort in your home. A home’s overall energy efficiency is affected by a variety of factors, including the quality of the HVAC system, the performance of heating and cooling ducts, and how often your air filter is replaced.