Remember the Tin Men

In recent years, the home improvement industry has unfortunately earned a reputation that is often synonymous with shady characters, shoddy craftsmanship, fly by night operators, & a general lack of respect. How times have changed from when most craftsmen actually took pride in their work & were seen as upstanding members of their community.

Much of the breakdown can be attributed to the fact many formal training programs for the trades have disappeared from the landscape over the last few decades & the barrier point to enter the various fields is disturbingly low. This comes as the number of DIY shows dumbing down the complexity of “menial” construction jobs spike, how-to book & magazine sales surge, & society as a whole grows more cynical of those earning a living with their hands. While unfortunate, it is understandable, as there are many scams perpetrated on unsuspecting consumers by those that abuse the industry, using it as a vehicle for their various methods of deception.

One scam that’s very popular these days revolves around convincing homeowners that replacing their windows – no matter what condition they’re in – will save untold amounts of money on their energy bills. This egregious con game revolves around charging large sums of money for low quality, cheaply constructed windows. The victims are not only the unsuspecting customers, but often very good quality windows that while still serviceable & functional, are branded as being inefficient & are ripped out & tossed in a landfill.

Just as the Tin Men of the 1950’s & 60’s preyed upon old frame houses & those tired of painting them, the Vinyl Window Men of today prey upon a similar group, making promises that are just as ridiculous – possibly more so – than the tapestry of fantasy the Tin Men wove. The difference between the scam the Tin Men perpetrated (selling aluminum siding as a “maintenance free” answer to the ongoing issue of painting wood siding) & the replacement window scam is the very real fact poor quality replacement windows can be far more damaging to buildings than covering old siding with aluminum. The reasons are twofold: First, old windows must be removed to make way for the new ones. In the process, original fabric is lost as sash & sometimes even ornate woodwork is removed, permanently altering the appearance & character of the building. Secondly, if the new windows are not of good quality &/or aren’t installed properly, they can & often do leak, allowing moisture to wreak havoc on everything from interior & exterior finishes to framing & insulation.

As the rush to “weatherize” buildings gains steam, sometimes rash or uninformed decisions are being made that can have harsh consequences. In the case of replacement windows, both the aesthetic appearance of the building as well as the condition & performance of the existing windows should be weighed prior to making the decision to replace them. Simply put, replacement windows aren’t always the best, nor the only solution to problematic openings. Restoration or repair of the existing units is often feasible – particularly if the windows are intact & operational. Replacement units do have their place, but the quality of the unit being offered as well as the attention to detail by the installers makes or breaks the installation.

Whether the choice is made to install good quality replacement windows or restore existing windows, the decision is sometimes perceived as costly. But “costly” is a relative term when the overall value & benefits are factored in. For example, a good or premium quality modern window can likely be expected to last upwards of 50 years – possibly more if maintained properly. When the upfront price of one of these units is amortized over its expected lifespan, the cost is suddenly very reasonable. In contrast, some studies peg the average life expectancy of vinyl windows at around 15 years or less, meaning they often have a much higher annual cost over their projected life (not to mention the need for the buyer to go through the replacement process again down the road). The higher quality window will generally operate better & be more aesthetically pleasing as well – intangibles many people truly appreciate.  Window restorations, or tune-ups, for those windows that don’t warrant full restoration, can add years or decades to the life of older units while preserving the character of these sometimes antique, but functional, relics.

Vinyl Window Men rarely inform customers of these facts, as they generally sell on volume & are often not informed themselves as to how to evaluate whether a window actually needs to be replaced. It’s best to do your homework before committing to any action, as the modern day Tin Men often have an interest that may not be reflective of yours.


  1. Christian says:

    Some genuinely excellent content on this website, thank you.

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