How do you go about picking a window company? Does the size matter? Are bigger window companies better?
Unfortunately, many homeowners in Calgary don’t do enough research, fall victim to company’s lies and end up overpaying for their window replacement. Or far worse, end up with a bad job.
How do you discern which company is right for you?
Today we’ll examine two of the bigger window companies, not just in Calgary but in all of Canada: Ply Gem and All Weather Windows. Be sure to read the conclusion and find out how these companies differ and what to look out for.
BBB: Not accredited
Ply Gem is one of the biggest window companies currently operating in Canada. They are also a fairly recent comer on the scene, compared to some companies that have been around since the 1970s. Since arriving in Canada, however, Ply Gem has absorbed smaller window companies like Mitten, Gienow Windows, and CWD Windows in Edmonton. As most large manufacturers do, the company works in almost all Canadian provinces. Their country head office is located in Calgary so you may have an advantage in getting service faster.
Ply Gem manufactures windows and doors for both replacement and new construction projects. The company offers options in vinyl, aluminum-clad vinyl, and aluminum-clad wood options. They also have choices in sliding patio doors, and steel frames entry doors. Ply Gem products can be found in big department stores like Home Depot and Rona. Unlike most manufacturers, Ply Gem also deals with siding and home exteriors. This may be useful for you if you are looking to renew your exterior finish as well. The company website has a useful online visualization tool for modeling your exteriors and windows, so you can see how different products look in different environments.
-ENERGY STAR rated.
Ply Gem offers comprehensive warranty information on their website. Their vinyl extrusions are covered for 20 years. The insulated glass units are covered for as long as you own the home. They also offer a 2-year warranty for skilled labour service. You can see the full warranty information here.
When we review window companies, we often end up talking about the company based on the customer reviews associated with the business. But this is made difficult when talking about manufacturers, as they often don’t have Homestars pages or even BBB accreditation. This is because manufacturers often deal with resellers and dealers, and aren’t actually involved in the customer service process. The exception to this rule is when homeowners need service on windows they purchased from the manufacturer. Although Ply Gem is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, there is still information about customer complaints and resolutions with this company. As with most manufacturers, customers felt that it was difficult to get inspections or service in a timely manner. Many customers pointed that the company promised to contact them immediately, only for them to have to call several weeks later. Because Ply Gem only offers a 2-year labour warranty, one customer had issues with the company because, by the time they got a service appointment, the warranty expired, and Ply Gem wasn’t initially willing to honor it.
One of the oldest and best-established companies in Canada, All Weather has been in business since 1978. This window company has two manufacturing facilities with a head office in Edmonton.
All Weather specializes in aluminum clad PVC and full vinyl windows. They also manufacture and supply entry, garden, and patio doors. All Weather Windows also offer their own installation services. Unlike dealing with a supplier, going with a full-service approach company is often better for any potential warranty service you may need. Because everything is done in-house this kind of companies are usually more committed to resolving installation related problems than companies that just supply the product.
– CSA certified and Energy Star rated
– Window Wise and Installation Masters Certification for installers
– Best of Homestars ’10, ’11, ’12
The company offers a 20-year comprehensive transferable warranty on their sealed units and a 5-year warranty on installation labour. You can find their full warranty package information in this guide.
Companies that do fewer things, also tend to do them better and to a higher standard. As with most window companies, the biggest areas of concern for customers was following up, scheduling, and providing service on the damaged product.
You probably don’t need this review to consider either or both of these window companies. Together, they make up for a large chunk of window replacements in Calgary and Western Canada in general.
So what’s the difference between two? For one, Ply Gem seems to carry a larger variety of window types. All Weather windows specialize in vinyl or vinyl hybrid windows (which in fairness are the best-performing window types on the market), but Ply Gem may have unique solutions especially if you are still interested in getting wood windows.
But it’s what these companies are similar in, that’s worth keeping in mind for homeowners looking for new windows. Since we reviewed both of these companies for the first time at the beginning of the year, very little seems to have changed in the biggest area of concern: post-installation service. Both of these companies regularly have online reviews from customers who felt they were being ignored by the manufacturer’s service department. Missed calls, broken promises, and refusal to honour warranty are just some of the things upset customers mentioned. Why is it, that these two fairly big and established companies get such similar negative reviews?
Most often with bigger manufacturers, the volume of production and their scope in multiple provinces ends up hurting them on individual cases. Even if these manufacturers work with different dealers and re-sellers, they are still the ones in charge of sending out installers for service and warranty problems. This means that when an issue with your windows does arise, you simply end up at the back of a long waiting list of people who’s windows need to be checked out by the company.
If you consider that your new windows should last you at least 20-25 years, warranty and service terms are an important factor to consider during the purchasing process. That is why smaller full-service companies sometimes have the advantage: by handling installations and services in-house and dealing with fewer customers in smaller areas they are able to address customers’ service needs much faster.