Best Windows for Your Home: Brands, Styles, Materials & More
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What are the best replacement window brands for homes?
- Which type of window is best for your home?
- Which window frame material is the most energy efficient?
- What glass type is best for home windows?
- And more
Why You Can Trust EcoWatch
We work with a panel of experts to create unbiased reviews that empower you to make the right choice for your home. No other windows site has covered the root issues as long as EcoWatch, which means we’re dedicated to pointing you in a sustainable direction. Our rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.
CA, OR, WA
Milgard Windows & Doors
- EnergyStar Partner
- Wide network of installers
- Lifetime warranty available
- Entails hiring third-party contractors
- Limited additional services
- Replacement Windows
Nationwide (via contractor network)
- Many years of experience
- Wide variety of products and services
- Large serice area
- Some installations carried out by third-party contractors
- Replacement Windows
- Replacement Doors
- Patio Doors
- Storm Doors
- Front Doors
- Energy Efficiency
- Smart-Home Technology
- Commitment to sustainability
- Many years of experience
- Great industry reputation
- Award-winning company
- Lifetime warranty
- Installations carried out by third-party contractors
- Replacement Windows
- Replacement Doors
- Glass Storefronts
- Patio Doors
- Many years of experience
- Low prices relative to competitors
- Lifetime warranty available
- Installations carried out by third-party contractors
- Limited customization options
- Slightly high number of complaints versus competitors
- Replacement Windows
- Replacement Doors
- Patio Doors
Jump To: What Window Is Best for Homes? | Best Window Brands of 2022 | What to Look for in a Window Manufacturer | Which Window Manufacturer Is Best? | Finding the Best Window Material for Your Home | What’s the Best Glass Type for Your Windows? | Which Type of Windows Are Best for Energy Efficiency?
What Window Is Best for Homes?
There are plenty of options available for your replacement windows, so you’ll have to choose the brand, window style, frame material and the type of glass you want in your window.
Unfortunately, there is no overall best window that we can definitively say is ideal for all homeowners. The brands, styles and materials all vary in price, energy efficiency and aesthetics, so there’s a lot of thought that needs to go into choosing the best window for your needs.
Below, we’ll discuss our top-rated window brands, which should give you some insight into the manufacturer you’d like to go with. After that, we’ll dive into the best styles, frames and glass materials for your home.
Best Window Brands of 2022
Selecting the right brand of window can guarantee that you get a high-quality product. There are countless window brands available, all offering different levels of energy efficiency and durability. Below, we’ll discuss our top-rated window brands and offer some information as to why they scored so high in our ratings.
Renewal by Andersen Windows
Andersen has been providing high-quality windows and doors to homeowners for over a century. If you’ve heard of just one window brand, it’s likely Andersen. Its decades of experience and commitment to durability, quality and energy efficiency have made it a household name.
Andersen’s windows are known for their long lifespan and are backed up by the company’s 20-year warranty for new windows and 10-year warranty coverage for all window hardware. Andersen’s window lines are on the pricier side, but you get what you pay for with windows that are guaranteed to last two decades.
Andersen maintains a commitment to energy efficiency, one of the most important factors to us at EcoWatch. Andersen’s windows and doors are Energy Star rated and Green Seal certified, and the company is a U.S. Green Building Council member.
Lastly, Renewal by Andersen carries out installations and is one of the few manufacturers that maintain great ratings and reviews for handiwork in addition to products.
If you have the funds, choosing Andersen for all your window needs is an easy decision to make.
Milgard Windows has been in business since 1958. With over 50 years of experience manufacturing windows and doors, it has made a name for itself in the industry that is synonymous with high quality and durability. Milgard is a more affordable option than many of the premium brands, but it still produces an excellent product that provides outstanding value for the money. It provides a lifetime warranty for many of its products to offer peace of mind for homeowners.
Milgard has five product lines, differentiated by frame materials, glass types, appearance and energy efficiency. It manufactures a wide range of window materials and can tackle many different types of windows; it can even provide custom designs for specialty window projects.
Milgard’s windows are all Energy Star rated, which is a major positive in our book. It carries aluminum and vinyl window frames, which are standard, as well as fiberglass window frames, which are the most durable and energy-efficient windows available.
Three of the windows series from Milgard include the option of triple-pane glass. This glass option will deliver maximum energy efficiency, especially when coupled with fiberglass window frames.
Milgard is a manufacturer only, which means you’ll have to find a third-party installer to tackle the actual installation for its products. It has certified installers you can choose from, so you can shop around and find one that suits your budget and your preferences. Or, if you’re more of the DIY type, Milgard window options can be found at retailers like Home Depot.
Pella is another well-known and well-respected brand in the industry, and it has been in business since 1925. The company is best known for its durable and high-quality windows that have beautiful curb appeal. Pella maintains favorable reviews online and has a positive score with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Pella’s products are known to last a long time, and their durability is backed up by extensive product warranties. The specific length of the warranty depends on the product, but it typically ranges from at least 10 to 20 years. Many of its warranties are offered for life.
Pella carries a huge range of window products through its showrooms and website, including many window frame materials and glass panes. Its most popular lines are the Encompass line and the 250 line. Here are a few more of its best offerings:
- Energy-efficient vinyl and fiberglass frames
- Aesthetically pleasing frame options like wood, double- and triple-pane glass
- Efficient glass coatings like low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings
Pella windows are also Energy Star rated, so you can rest assured that you’re getting windows that will improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Pella offers installation services as well, although it doesn’t have the best reviews for its labor and installation process. For this reason, many homeowners who want Pella windows choose a reputable third-party installer, like Window World, to carry out the installation.
Marvin Windows was founded in 1912, so it’s another window company with more than 100 years of experience. It manufactures high-quality windows and doors and has a long-standing reputation for quality and durability. It carries three different product lines — the Essential Collection, the Elevate Collection and the Signature Collection — all of which are reasonably priced given their quality, consistency and durability.
Marvin Windows manufactures most window styles and can accommodate the majority of frame and glass preferences. Most importantly for our purposes, Marvin is committed to energy efficiency like other top window brands. It carries wood, vinyl, aluminum, composite and fiberglass window frames to suit your budget and energy efficiency needs. It also offers its windows with energy-efficient double- and triple-pane glass for maximum efficiency and comfort in your home.
Marvin windows have outstanding durability. All Marvin windows are also backed by a limited lifetime warranty, which means you get ultimate peace of mind along with your brand-new windows.
Marvin Windows is strictly a manufacturer of windows, which means you’ll only be able to purchase and install its products via a third-party installer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you will need to do some additional research to ensure you find a reputable window installer local to you.
Since 1946, Simonton Windows has maintained low prices for its energy-efficient windows and doors. Simonton is often considered a great budget option, but it still delivers quality and durability that exceeds expectations for most homeowners.
Simonton has 13 window lines to choose from, all with varying appearances, durability and energy-efficiency ratings. All of its products are backed by a limited lifetime warranty for the frame materials and a 20-year warranty for insulated glass units (IGUs), screens and hardware.
Every window in Simonton’s line-up is Energy Star rated, meaning you’re guaranteed to get decent energy efficiency. However, the company only carries vinyl window frames, so customization of appearance and durability is limited. Vinyl is relatively energy-efficient, but it’s not as efficient as the fiberglass frames offered by other manufacturers. Simonton does offer double- and triple-pane glass to make up for the difference in efficiency.
Simonton doesn’t carry out its installations, so you’ll have to find a third-party installer to complete the work for you. The company has a list of certified Simonton window installers available on its website, but you’ll still need to do some additional research to ensure you hire a reputable local company.
What to Look for in a Window Manufacturer
If you’re still not sure which brand is right for you and want to continue your research, there are a few considerations you should start with. We’ll discuss the most important aspects of a window manufacturer below, which will help you find the best windows from a brand you can trust.
One of the first things many homeowners look for is the length of the warranty offered with new windows. Every company’s window warranty varies, with some providing just 10 years of coverage and others offering a lifetime warranty. Of course, the longer the warranty, the more peace of mind you’ll have that you won’t run into an issue with your windows down the line.
Many window companies offer different warranties for the windows themselves, the hardware and the installation, so you’ll need to confirm how long your coverage is for each.
- In most cases, the labor warranty is the shortest, but it’s one of the most important coverages, as it protects against issues like leaks that are caused by a faulty installation. If you choose a window company that only manufactures products, your workmanship warranty will come from the third-party installer you choose to complete the work.
- Hardware warranties are usually longer than workmanship coverage but shorter than window warranties. Hardware is the least expensive part of your windows, so while coverage is a great thing to have, decades of protection aren’t totally necessary.
- Most important is the warranty for your window itself. This warranty will cover things like manufacturer defects, which can cause water leaks, air leaks and other issues that compromise the seal and your home’s energy efficiency. Longer warranties are always better, but you should ideally be looking for coverage for at least 15 to 20 years to ensure you get your money’s worth.
Next, you’ll want to consider the windows’ energy efficiency, which has a huge impact on your overall energy consumption. Energy-efficient windows conserve energy, affecting not only the comfort level of your home, but also the size of your utility bills for years after installation.
Many manufacturers offer different window product lines with varying levels of energy efficiency. You can start by either checking the efficiency ratings of a line of window you like the appearance of, or you can search for windows with highly efficient materials, like fiberglass frames and triple-pane glass.
Alternatively, you can look for Energy Star ratings, which are provided by the Department of Energy for windows that meet its criteria for high efficiency. This rating takes into consideration heat transfer through glass and frame materials, sunlight absorption by the glass and more.
Some windows might instead have specific ratings. For example, U-factor provides information about general insulation, and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) provides information on heat loss through the window.
You can learn more about the specifics of energy efficient windows in this video:
Regardless of the ratings, energy-efficient windows are a must-have. Energy-efficient windows will help:
- Reduce the amount of money you spend on heating and cooling your home
- Provide more insulation from outdoor noises
- Put less stress on your heating and cooling equipment, which leads to fewer repairs and a more comfortable living space
Replacing windows can be expensive, especially if you’re upgrading all of the windows in your home at once. To avoid unexpected costs in the future, one of the most important factors to consider is window durability. Your windows are under constant stress from the elements, so ensuring you get windows that will last is essential.
Durability is challenging to estimate because there are no rating systems to help guide you like there are with energy efficiency. Instead, you’ll have to rely on the reputation of the brand, customer reviews and, most importantly, the warranty coverage. You can get a good idea of how durable your windows will be by looking at the warranty. Manufacturers with confidence in their products tend to offer strong warranty coverage of 20 years or more.
Of course, every homeowner will be concerned with the price of the windows they’re purchasing. The cost of a single window can vary by hundreds of dollars based on the brand you choose, even if all other factors — like frame material and glass quality — remain the same. In many cases, durability, consistency and energy efficiency will be the factors that are affected most by price, so you’ll have to balance the cost with the product quality.
More important than the price is the value you get for your money. It’s easy to think that more affordable windows are a better option, but they may be more likely to give you issues after installation and provide a lower level of energy efficiency. This could end up costing you more in energy bills over time.
We recommend buying windows near the top of your budget from a brand name you can trust to avoid less durable and less reliable brands that are appealing solely because of the price.
Not every window company offers every frame material and glass type, so you might need to be discerning based on your preferences. For example, if you’re looking for maximum energy efficiency, you’ll probably want fiberglass window frames and triple-pane glass.
Many companies don’t carry either of these options, so you can rule them out right away. Similarly, some homeowners want wood windows for the curb appeal they provide, but some companies don’t offer them because they aren’t particularly energy-efficient.
Manufacturing and Installation
As we mentioned above, some window manufacturers — like Renewal by Andersen — manufacture windows and provide professional installation services. Others — like Marvin — only manufacture windows and require that you go through a third-party installer.
Generally speaking, companies that provide windows and installation are a bit better. Not only do they make the process more convenient, but if anything goes wrong, you have one company to turn to fix it. If you instead buy windows from a manufacturer and have them installed by a third party, you might have trouble getting one or the other to cover the issue under its warranty.
Additionally, companies that manufacture and install their windows can often accommodate custom windows to suit your home exactly, which is a nice option to have if your home has non-standard windows.
Years of Experience
We recommend you look at how long a window manufacturer has been in business as well. Some of the best window companies have over a century of experience, and many have several decades of success behind them. Companies with longevity are more likely to provide a positive experience and good customer service, as well as products that have been tested time and time again.
Finally, we suggest reading through some online customer reviews for the company you’re considering. Online reviews give you a quick look at what you can expect from a window company. You can read some positive and negative reviews to get a good idea of how a company is likely to treat you throughout the consultation and installation process and beyond.
Which Window Manufacturer Is Best?
Again, there’s no perfect window manufacturer that will appeal equally to all homeowners. You’ll have to find the best one for your purposes by comparing the aesthetics, price points, window frame materials, glass types, overall energy efficiency and availability.
With that being said, Renewal by Andersen is our top pick for window manufacturers. Andersen has over 110 years of experience and is a highly trusted and respected name in the window industry that provides durable windows backed by a long warranty.
Best of all, Andersen is committed to energy efficiency, which means you’ll have your pick of high-efficiency window frame materials, glass types and glass coatings that can serve to reduce your utility bills, reduce your environmental impact and keep your living space more comfortable.
Finding the Best Window Frame Material for Your Home
While choosing the right brand of window for your home is an important decision, your work is far from over. The next choice to make is what kind of window frame material you want for your windows. There is no single frame material that is best for every homeowner, so we’ll discuss the different options below and include some pros and cons to help you decide.
Here’s a quick overview to get you started:
Aluminum Window Frames
Aluminum is usually the most affordable window frame material, and it’s widely available. Most major window manufacturers offer aluminum window frames, and the majority of installers will install them. Aluminum can be painted for some aesthetic appeal, but it’s not the most durable frame. Aluminum frames typically come with the shortest warranty coverage.
While aluminum is affordable and low-maintenance, it’s also the least energy-efficient frame material available. It’s not ideal for homes that are in extreme climates, although it can serve as a decent budget option in mild climates. We recommend homeowners in extreme climates choose a different material to minimize heat transfer between their living spaces and the exterior of their homes.
Vinyl Window Frames
Vinyl window frames are some of the most popular because they offer a great blend of energy efficiency and affordability. Vinyl windows are only slightly more costly than aluminum windows in most cases, and they provide much better insulation from the exterior temperatures. Vinyl has great durability and is rated for about 20 years. It cannot be painted, so while it comes in a variety of colors, you’ll be stuck with that color until you need to replace the window again.
Vinyl is a great option for energy efficiency, as it provides better insulation than aluminum and wood windows. This is especially true if you choose vinyl window frames with voids in the center, which can be filled with foam insulation for optimal energy efficiency. Many vinyl windows are Energy Star rated.
Wood Window Frames
Wood window frames are more expensive than vinyl and aluminum frames, and they often have a lower energy efficiency rating than vinyl windows. Most homeowners who choose wood windows do so because they like how they look. Wood offers a classic and traditional appearance, and the curb appeal is usually preferable to other materials for most homeowners. Some other materials — like composite and fiberglass — can be made to look like wood, but they’re more expensive.
Wood isn’t the most energy-efficient frame material, although it’s often rated better than aluminum. Wood can be painted and stained for a customized appearance, adding to the visual appeal. Some window manufacturers offer wood frames with an aluminum or vinyl shell on the outside to provide added energy efficiency. These windows are often referred to as aluminum-clad or wood-clad windows.
Composite Window Frames
Composite window frames are made out of multiple materials — most often a highly efficient material lined with wood on the outside to make them more attractive. Composite frames are usually more costly than wood frames, but they provide the appearance of wood with the energy efficiency of fiberglass or insulated vinyl.
Composite frames vary in their levels of energy efficiency depending on the materials used. You can check the windows’ u-factor and insulative properties on your manufacturer’s website in most cases. Composite frames are also more durable than many other materials, so you will often be looking at a warranty of 20 years or more.
Fiberglass Window Frames
Finally, fiberglass frames are the most expensive option available, but they provide the best durability and the highest level of energy efficiency. Fiberglass windows are the most likely to come with a lifetime warranty, and many of them last for 40 years or more without any major issues. While the window cost is much higher for fiberglass than you’ll pay for other materials, these windows also last significantly longer in most cases.
Fiberglass is the most energy-efficient material, so it’s ideal for extreme climates and for reducing energy bills. It can be textured to look like wood, and it can be painted as well, so you get the benefits and appeal of wood windows with a superior energy efficiency rating.
What’s the Best Glass Type to Choose for Your Windows?
Once you’ve chosen your window brand and frame material, you’ll have to choose the type of glass you want for your windows. Most window companies offer at least two options, plus some glass coatings that can improve energy efficiency or reduce the amount of UV radiation coming into your home. Below, we’ll explain the key differences between window glass options and coatings to help you decide which is best for your budget and needs.
As the name suggests, single-pane glass consists of one layer of glass. This type of glass will keep rain, snow and debris out of your home, but it’s not particularly insulative. As such, it’s only suitable for mild climates, usually in areas where air conditioning and heating systems aren’t required.
Some manufacturers don’t even offer single-pane glass because it’s far less popular than double- and triple-pane options. However, it is the most affordable, at a little more than half the price of double-pane glass.
Double-pane glass consists of two layers of glass in each pane. The layers are separated using window spacers that are designed not to transfer energy readily between the panes. The void created between the panes is filled with an insulative gas — usually argon gas — which further serves to insulate your home from the exterior.
Given how insulative double-pane windows are, this option is far more energy-efficient than single-pane windows. Most Energy Star-rated windows have at least double-pane glass. Other benefits of double-pane windows include fewer issues with window condensation and better noise insulation to limit outside disturbances. However, double-pane windows are nearly twice as expensive as single-pane windows.
Triple-pane glass is made of three layers of glass. Spacers make two separate voids between the panes, both of which are filled with insulative gas. Given that triple-pane windows are geared toward homeowners who want maximum energy efficiency for their homes, they often come with the option of argon gas in between the panes or even more efficient krypton gas.
Triple-pane windows are the most insulative, so they’re best suited for extreme climates and can help lower energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint. Triple-pane windows are also best for keeping noise from landscaping equipment, traffic and noisy neighbors out of your living space.
Triple-pane windows do come at the highest price point, however, at around double what you can expect to pay for an equivalent double-pane window.
In addition to the type of glass, you’ll also have to decide if you want any glass coatings, which you can use to improve the energy efficiency of your windows or reduce sunlight and UV radiation from coming into your home. There are two primary glass coatings that you’ll find from the major window manufacturers, which we’ll explain below.
A low-emissivity (or Low-E) coating is a film that goes over your windows to reduce the energy transfer that occurs through your windows. It reflects heat in the direction from which it came, meaning a Low-E coating will help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Low-E coatings are relatively inexpensive, especially for the value they provide. They can often pay for themselves in the added energy efficiency they lend to your home.
Low-E glazings can be applied by most major window manufacturers, and many window installation companies can also add the coating as an aftermarket option.
Window tinting is another popular window treatment that most homeowners are more familiar with. Window tinting is also a film applied to your window glass, but rather than reflecting energy in the form of heat, it absorbs sunlight and limits the amount of light coming through your windows.
Of course, window tinting will reduce the amount of natural light entering your home, so they’re best suited for areas where the sun is intense. By reducing sunlight entering your home, window tinting can help keep your home cool.
Which Types of Windows Are Best for Energy Efficiency?
Windows come in many different styles, and the type of window you choose can affect your home’s energy efficiency, the amount of sunlight you receive and the ventilation of your living space.
When it comes to energy efficiency, windows with thick glass that don’t open or close and maintain a perfect seal between your living space and your home’s exterior will be the most efficient. Specifically, glass block windows provide the best energy efficiency. This window style doesn’t allow for any ventilation and provides minimal natural light in most cases, so it’s only suitable if you’re looking to maximize energy efficiency.
Best Windows for Energy Efficiency and Sunlight
For homeowners who have energy efficiency in mind but also want to let plenty of sunlight into their homes, picture windows are the best option. These windows don’t open or close, so they provide a perfect seal and protection from the elements and outdoor temperatures.
They’re large and aren’t opaque like glass block windows, so they let plenty of light in while providing views of the outdoors.
Best Windows for Energy Efficiency, Sunlight & Ventilation
If you want the best of all three worlds — windows that open and close to provide ventilation, provide natural sunlight into your home and provide good energy efficiency — then casement windows, which are often found on bay windows and bow windows, are your best option.
Casement windows are hinged on the sides and open like a book. They usually use manual cranks as their opening mechanism, and when they close and lock, the weatherstripping gets clamped between the window sash and the frame to provide a good seal. While casement windows will never be as energy-efficient as solid windows that don’t open, they are the best option for efficiency while maintaining the option for ventilation.
Awning windows and hopper windows are two other good options for providing energy savings while maintaining ventilation in your living area. These are more window types with a sash that clamps against the frame, providing a better seal than windows with sliding sashes. Single-hung and double-hung windows are less efficient.
FAQ: Best Windows for Your Home
The answer to this question depends on many things, like the climate where you live, your budget, your personal preference for window appearance and more. Generally speaking, the best window for your home will fit into your budget, be highly energy-efficient and have great durability covered by a warranty.
If you’re looking solely to maximize energy efficiency, a glass block window or picture window will be the most energy-efficient. If you want a window that provides ventilation and still maximizes energy efficiency, a casement window is your best option.
The best materials for energy efficiency are fiberglass window frames and triple-pane glass with a Low-E coating or window tinting. These options from a reputable window manufacturer will provide the best insulation from the outdoor temperatures, help reduce your energy bills and keep your living space comfortable while minimizing the stress on your heating and cooling equipment.
Choosing fiberglass windows and triple-pane glass from any of the top window manufacturers mentioned above will provide you with peak energy efficiency and, usually, an Energy Star rating.
The answer to this question depends on many things, like your budget, your preference for window appearance, whether you need new construction windows or replacements, the warranty you’re looking for and how energy-efficient you want your windows to be.
With that being said, Renewal by Andersen is our top-rated window manufacturer. Andersen has over 110 years of experience, provides highly efficient, Energy Star-rated windows and doors, and manufactures and installs windows with a high degree of professionalism, consistency and durability, all backed by a lengthy warranty. The Andersen 400 product line is one of the most popular in the window industry for these reasons.