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What are the Highest Rated & Best Windows for 2021

Highest Rated Windows 2021

This page is about the best windows for your home in 2021. It covers the best vinyl, wood, fiberglass and aluminum windows plus a couple niche categories – storm resistant windows and the most energy efficient windows for 2021.

We also differentiate between the best replacement windows and the best new construction windows in each category when necessary. Most window series are made in both new construction and replacement models, but there are exceptions.

There are more series in each material subcategory, but here are the 14 Best of the Best windows for 2021.

2021 Top Rated and Best Windows

  • Pella 350 vinyl windows
  • Ply Gem 1500 vinyl windows
  • Simonton Reflections 5500 vinyl windows
  • Pella Lifestyle wood windows
  • Andersen 400 wood windows
  • Marvin Signature Ultimate wood windows
  • Pella Impervia fiberglass windows
  • Andersen A-Series fiberglass windows
  • Milgard Thermally Improved aluminum windows
  • Jeld Wen Builders Atlantic aluminum windows
  • Simonton StormBreaker Plus storm resistant windows
  • Harvey Vigilance storm resistant windows
  • Alside Sheffield and Sheffield II Energy Star windows
  • Andersen E-Series Energy Star windows

New Construction Windows vs. Replacement Windows – There’s a Big Difference

New construction windows are installed in two scenarios:

  • In new home construction and additions
  • When a home is getting a complete exterior makeover including siding

The key is that there is no siding on the home when installed.

New home windows have a nailing fin around them that is used to attach the window to the framing of the house. For this reason, some window contractors call new home windows “nailing fin” windows. Generally speaking, new construction windows are considered the best windows for keeping wind-driven rain out of your home, since the fin provides greater protection against the elements and the window can be properly flashed and caulked during installation.

Replacement windows are also called retrofit windows. They fit into the opening left when an old window is removed. Therefore, the installer and homeowner is relying on the flashing that is already in place to keep water away from the window – flashing that can’t be inspected and might be 30+ years old.

Generally, the exterior frame of the old window is left in place, and the new window is installed over it and screwed through the old frame to the studs on the sides and above/below the window opening. They must be carefully caulked and sealed to prevent penetration of moisture and air drafts. Replacement windows are less expensive for the window itself because there isn’t as much material in the frame.

The installation labor cost is about the same when compared with installing new construction windows in a home with no siding attached.

However, if you compare the cost of replacement windows with the cost of pulling siding off the home, installing new windows and then re-siding the house, the cost of replacement / retrofit windows is far less.

Get it in Writing: When getting window estimates for an existing home, it might be worth hearing what the salesperson has to say about new vs replacement windows. If you decide on a replacement window rather than a new construction window, ask how the window will be properly sealed and if there is a written warranty against leaks.

Pro Tip: If you have plans to replace your home’s siding in the next few years, it’s a much better option to do the windows and the siding at the same time. Then, new home windows can be used along with new flashing and an adequate amount of caulk.

Best Vinyl Windows for 2021

Vinyl windows remain best-sellers because they are attractive, low-maintenance and are generally backed with Lifetime warranties unlike wood windows.

The top rated vinyl windows for 2021 can mostly be ordered for either a retrofit or new construction installation. How does this compare with the best vinyl windows of 2020?

best vinyl windows

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Pella 350 $200 – $600 Both
Ply Gem 1500 $350 – $900 New
Jeld Wen Builders V-2500 $175 – $700 Both
Window World 4000 $260 – $700 Replacement
Simonton Reflections 5500 $385 – $850 Replacement
Milgard Tuscany $485 – $1,295 Both

Pella 350 Series

This series makes our best windows list for their high quality and excellent weather protection. A good choice for either replacement or new construction, the Pella 350 vinyl window series features 5 window styles including popular double-hung, sliding and casement windows. These windows also topped Consumer Reports’ most recent survey of the best vinyl replacement windows.

These windows are available in Energy Star certified options too with improved thermal glass choices such as triple pane glazing. There’s more information about frame colors, accessories and options in our Pella Window Price & Installation Cost Guide.

Ply Gem 1500 Series

This is one of many quality window series from one of North America’s largest manufacturers of vinyl windows. It’s an Energy Star certified window in most regions of the US. It’s one of the top rated for the combination of quality and affordability.

The 1500 Series are mid-priced and available in a wide range of styles – single-hung, sliding, casement, awning and fixed windows plus bay and bow options. This gives you lots of flexibility to create a unique package of windows for your home in your favorite styles and sizes. Your options include 3 interior and 6 exterior colors.

The drawback is that these windows are used for new construction only. If you’re sold on Ply Gem and want a comparable replacement window to the 1500 Series, take a look at the Pro Series vinyl windows discussed in our Ply Gem Windows Pricing Guide.

Jeld Wen Builders V-2500 Series

These are some of the most affordable vinyl windows on our list, but they don’t lack in quality. Jeld Wen Builders V-2500 windows are a good fit for budget-minded replacement and new construction projects. Popular types include single-hung and double-hung and sliding windows. Fixed shapes and garden windows increase your options.

They’re backed by a Lifetime warranty, as most good top rated vinyl windows, with 5 exterior color options.

Window World 4000 Series

Window World doesn’t have the name recognition of Pella, Andersen or even Marvin, but the company has received a number of nationally recognized awards such as the 2018 J.D. Power award because of the excellent customer satisfaction rating among all window and patio door manufacturers.

These are among the best replacement windows but priced in the middle of the 2000 Series and 6000 Series premium vinyl windows from this brand. That’s a good value. Of the three series, only the 4000 Series is made in more than double-hung windows. You can complete your package with casement, awning, sliding and picture windows too.

One of the unique features of the Window World 4000 windows is that they are offered in genuine woodgrain veneer interiors in three shades.

Simonton Reflections 5500

These replacement windows are well built, showing in tests that they offer superior protection against wind forcing its way into your home.

Priced a little above average for Simonton, the 5500 replacement windows are produced in many styles including double-hung, casement and sliding.

Energy Star certified glass is an option along with a nice range of choices: 7 exterior colors complement simulated woodgrain interiors in hues including cherry, oak and maple. Five hardware finishes are optional, more than are offered in most vinyl window lines. These windows also made the Consumer Reports list. Learn more in our Simonton Windows Prices and Installation Cost Guide.

Milgard Tuscany

Produced as both new home windows and replacement windows, the Tuscany Series is traditionally beautiful and exudes quality in every construction detail. They’re also among the most expensive from Milgard and in this list. For a small premium per window, you can choose rich interior colors like taupe, chocolate and bronze.

Double-hung and casement windows are among the many styles available for your home. There is more Milgard Tuscany pricing and accessory information in our Milgard Window Pricing and Installation Cost guide.

Best Wood Windows for 2021

Wood windows are gorgeous but a little pricey compared with other options. Here are the top rated wood windows for 2021, how does this compare with the best wood windows of 2020.

best wood windows

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Pella Lifestyle $250 – $950 Replacement
Andersen 400 $325 – $2,000 Replacement
Marvin Signature Ultimate $525 – $1,425 Both

Pella Lifestyle Series

Built to last and good-looking too, the Lifestyle Series are some of the best replacement windows to boost the elegance of any home. They’re also an Energy Star certified window that will increase your home’s comfort and lower energy use and costs. The exterior cladding is aluminum. Interiors are pine and come in your choice of unfinished, primed and several factory stain colors.

These windows were once known as the ProLine 450 Series, and you’ll occasionally see them still referred to that way. They are Pella’s lowest-cost wood windows. The Lifestyle Series and the Andersen 400 Series were the only two wood windows on the Consumer Reports list of top replacement windows.

Andersen 400 Series

This series might be the most popular of the top rated windows for 2021 in wood. They are huge sellers across the country. The 400 Series are available “off the shelf” in some styles at Home Depot and other building supply stores, or they can be ordered semi-custom from a window and door contractor.

The 400 Series includes popular window types – casement, awning, double-hung, gliding, picture and bay/bow windows. A good array of options for stain, hardware and accessories is available when you order them from a dealer. Unfinished pine is also available for the DIY homeowner.

These are among the Andersen window series that can be fitted with the Andersen Stormwatch Protection glass and reinforcements. These are pine interiors with aluminum clad exteriors.

Marvin Signature Ultimate Series 

These wood windows feature aluminum-clad exteriors for superior resistant to moisture, insects and other enemies of wood. There are nearly 30 window styles in this Marvin wood windows collection, and that’s a big reason it is on our top rated 2021 windows list. There are several types of double-hung, casement and awning windows plus corner windows, single-hung, bay/boy, fixed/picture windows and many more.

The standard wood option is pine, but you’ve got more interesting choices including Cherry, Douglas Fir (standard or vertical grain), Mahogany, White Oak and Black Walnut.

Best Fiberglass Composite Windows for 2021

Fiberglass windows are gaining in popularity due to their attractive painted wood look, outstanding durability and good value compared to genuine wood.

Here are the three top rating fiberglass windows for 2021.

best fibreglass windows

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Pella Impervia $195 – $600 Both
Andersen A-Series $1,200 – $3,500 New
Marvin Infinity $300 – $1,000 Replacement

Pella Impervia

This fiberglass series is one of the best replacement window brands available. They are very strong and backed with a lifetime warranty against warped frames or other manufacturing defects. That’s why they make our list of best 2021 windows.

Pella makes them in popular styles including double-hung, single-hung, awning, casement, fixed/picture and bay/bow windows. The color (3) and accessory options such as screens, grilles and frame profiles are just fair, but you should find a combination to suit your home’s decor.

Andersen A-Series

Among the best new windows of any material, these are super-premium in quality and cost. Your window type options are casement, awning, double-hung, picture and several specialty windows. A good range of colors for both interior and exterior are offered.

One of the top rated 2021 new construction windows, they have unique construction. The interior frame is wood; the exterior frame is a composite fiberglass material that offers tremendous protection against the elements in all seasons.

Milgard Ultra

These fiberglass new construction and replacement windows make the best windows list for premium quality combined with fashionable, contemporary good looks. Choose from single-hung, sliding, casement, awning, picture, bay/bow windows and more.

Milgard Ultra windows are trendy with two dark interior window frame colors, something most manufacturers have been offering for the last five years or so. Milgard backs the windows with a full Lifetime warranty.

Best Aluminum Windows for 2021

Aluminum windows are a good fit for mild and warm climates. If you’re in a cool climate, you likely won’t find aluminum options because they aren’t energy efficiency.

But they are strong, lightweight and attractive – and more affordable than most other materials.

best aluminum windows

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Jeld Wen Builders Atlantic $220 – $495 Both
Milgard Thermally Improved $295 – $845 Both

Jeld Wen Builders Atlantic

These windows from Jeld Wen are also impact resistance, so they could fit below in that category too. Their coastal rating means they’ll handle a little salt in the air without oxidation issues beyond the normal oxidation that aluminum undergoes which then protects it from further issues.

You’ve got 12 glass options to customize these windows to your climate and your tastes. A limited number of accessory and hardware choices are offered. The warranty is just 10 years, but that’s not uncommon for windows typically installed in coastal areas.

Milgard Thermally Improved Aluminum either

These are one of our top rated 2021 windows in aluminum due to their improved energy efficiency relative to many aluminum windows.

Choose a combination of single-hung, sliding, casement and awning windows plus picture/fixed windows to create a unique package for your home.

Best Storm-resistant Windows for 2021

We’ve got two options here. Simonton StormBreaker Plus is a line of new construction and replacement windows.

The Andersen Stormwatch Protection isn’t a line of windows, but enhancements that can be made to several popular Andersen window lines.

best storm resistant windows

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Simonton StormBreaker Plus $400 – $800 Both
Andersen 400 Stormwatch $500 – $1,600 Replacement

Simonton StormBreaker Plus

These Simonton coastal rated impact resistant windows are built to withstand high winds and the debris they can drive into your home and windows. StormBreaker Plus windows are rated for use in High Velocity Hurricane Zones, HVHZs.

One of the keys is Simonton KeepSafe Maximum glass with a durable interlayer design that also reduces noise and helps prevent forced entry into your home. Finally, the profiles of the windows are reinforced for strength.

Andersen Windows with Stormwatch Protection

Andersen A-Series, E-Series, 400 Series and 100 Series can be outfitted with hurricane-tough Stormwatch Protection to produce HVHZ-rated, impact windows and doors as explained in this promotional video from Andersen.

The key is a laminated plastic layer between the two panes of glass. Even if the glass is broken, the plastic layer can continue to minimize or prevent the penetration of water.

Most Energy Efficient Windows for 2021

There are hundreds of energy efficient windows available. Almost all brands make Energy Star certified windows for each of the four regions the DOE lists: Northern, North-Central, South-Central and Southern.

It takes different glass packages to meet Energy Star qualifications for each region. We’ve listed a few of the top rated 2021 windows that can be ordered with Energy Star glass, but again, most brands will have windows that will improve your home’s energy efficiency for the next couple decades.

Here is the Energy Star searchable list. Choose your region, and search by manufacturer or window type such as double-hung or casement windows.

Brand Series Cost Range New/Replacement
Alside Sheffield & Sheffield II $720 – $1,015 Replacement
Ply Gem 1500 $350 – $900 New
Simonton Reflections 5500 $385 – $850 Replacement
Pella Lifestyle $250 – $950 Both
Andersen E-Series $800 – $2,500 Replacement

The only series not discussed above are those from Alside.

Alside Sheffield and Sheffield II

The Sheffield vinyl windows are available in the Eastern region. Sheffield II are sold in the Western region. See our Alside Window Prices and Installation Cost Review for a map of the regions and lots more information.

Both series are fusion-welded, as many top vinyl windows are, for added structural integrity. These replacement windows are made in sliding only in the Sheffield II Series. You’ve got plenty more options in the Sheffield Series – Casement, double-hung, sliding, awning, bay/bow and garden windows.

Additional Energy Star windows mentioned here or from these manufacturers include:

  • Pella 350 Series and Architect Series
  • Andersen 100, 200, 400 and A-Series
  • Marvin Ultimate and Elevate

Compare Window Cost Estimates

We make it simple to compare window series, options and costs with no-obligation, free written estimates from window contractors in your area.

One simple form is all it takes, and local sellers of these top windows respond. You won’t waste time making call after call hoping to speak with someone.

Many of our readers request the free quotes and then do their own research of reviews on Google, the Better Business, Angie’s List and similar places. It’s an approach we recommend. Then you can decide which windows and installer make the best sense to beautify and protect your home.

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