So our builder mainly uses PlyGem vinyl windows. He said they are cost and energy-efficient, and most people get them in either white or clay (which is kinda greige). “Great” I thought….then I went to do my own research. Because I like to know things. I’m a research girl. And Adam is a research guy. And together, we research things. So off we went to find windows for our house.

I now know way more about windows than I should (and I for sure know more than some of the salespeople I talked to). Seriously, ask me a question.  Do you want to low about U-factors? How about the difference between rolled and extruded aluminum? What are the shortcomings of vinyl? What’s the difference between Ultrex and Fibrex? Would you like to know about low E glass? Because I can tell you all  about it. 

Obviously Adam and I want windows that are energy-efficient, but we also want windows that are pretty. In a world of white vinyl windows, when you come across a beautiful window, you notice.

beige plygem windows
blog about building a house
window inspiration

If I could have chosen any window, I wanted a window that was black extruded aluminum on the outside and wood on the inside. I really didn’t care what the color was on the inside, I could have gone with natural wood, or something that was painted black or white. What I had noticed, during my many long nights with Houzz, that 90% of the houses I saved had black exterior windows. (some of these are hard to see, but trust me, they’re black.)

blog about building a house
blog about building a house
blog about building a house
window design
choosing windows for a custom home
choosing windows for a custom home
choosing windows for a custom home
So we priced windows…so many windows. You know what we learned? There is a reason people use white vinyl windows…it’s that fancy windows are freaking expensive.
Instead of getting whole house quotes for windows we went from dealer to dealer getting quotes on just one window, the most common in our house, a 3 foot wide by 6 ft 6 inch tall window. We priced mostly Pella, PlyGem, Andersen, Marvin, and a handful of lesser known brands, and the prices varied from $148 a window to over $800. That was the Marvin Integrity (which is what I would have bought if money grew one trees) and in some showrooms that was their “bargain” window. Jiminy Christmas. BTW, we have 44 windows in our house…you do the math. We ended up getting a whole house quote on the cheapest black option, the Anderson 100 (made out of a composite material called Fibrex) and it came to $12,000. The PlyGem windows that our builder recommended? $5,500. Guess which ones we choose? Yup, after all that we went with what the builder recommended in the first place.
window stats
We got them in the clay color, which will be on both the inside and outside. To be honest, I’ve haven’t really been excited about our window decision, even after they were ordered and delivered. I had really wanted some sleek, dramatic, sexy black windows. (Plygem does offer a black vinyl window, but only in the north. Evidently here in Texas the extreme sunshine and heat will melt a black vinyl window).
plygem windows
dining room windows
 But then I got to thinking…the things I like really aren’t that dramatic and sexy, I much prefer things that feel casual and relaxed. And windows…they are really like the eyes of the house. I’ve tried multiple times to wear that black liquid eyeliner that looks so amazing on other people, but each time I end up looking ridiculous, like I’m trying to hard. I don’t even wear makeup most of the time, and if I do it’s some I put on mascara and call it a day. I’ll add some light eyeshadow and eyeliner if it’s a fancy event. So black windows, while amazing on other houses, would probably end up feeling heavy and over the top after a while.
front room windows
brown windows
So I went searching online for any examples of a white house with brownish windows. I came back empty-handed, every window on a white house is either white or black. Then a few days ago I found an example, one lone example, of exactly what I was looking for on a blog called Front Porch Designs Studio.
I had to get a closer look, so I hunted her down on Instagram and found this…
front porch designs window
And? I think I love it. It’s relaxed and casual, with just the right amount of contrast to not be boring. It’s perfect.
And now I’m excited again…and also really glad that deciding on windows in behind me.

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  1. Yay for windows going in! Somebody recently told me that windows are one of the most expensive things in a house… I’d be kissing your builder for that price! :)

    1. Seriously, when we were getting quotes I was blown away! I can’t imagine spending almost $40,000 on just windows, that’s just so much. They WERE really nice windows, but still….the PlyGem vinyl ones are nice too. The windows in our current house are the cheapest off-brand aluminum crap windows you can buy, so everything is an upgrade to me!

  2. We’re building too right now, and also chose the clay Ply gym. I really love the light, but rich color it gives off. I think it’s a great choice!

  3. That sounds like an amazing price for that amount of windows! They look great to me. I’ve always liked the idea of black windows too, but I do think they are a tend that may or may not seem like such a good idea in a few years. I LOVE black, but having it on something so permanent would make me pause. The clay colour adds some interest without being a big statement IMO, I love them on the example pic.

    1. Yeah, it is a really good price. I was stunned by how expensive some of the windows were, but I was almost equally stunned by how cheap these were…especially considering how energy efficient they are.

  4. 44 windows!!!! Wow! I am just like you researching things. I’m glad your hubby is too. Mine is not and I get all kinds of trouble for it. We have to replace our roof and I am obsessed with getting the color right because I didn’t like the color when we bought the house.

    1. Yeah…I like windows, haha. It seems like a ton (especially considering there are only 15 in our current house) but 20 of them are those small 2×2 windows.

      Roofing is a big decision! Spending weeks or months researching something can be annoying, but it leads to very few regretted purchases. You’ve gotta have at least one researcher per family, I think. We just finished our roofing decision and went with two different types. Crossing my fingers it looks cool and layered and not just weird.

  5. Awww, I was hoping you were going to say you decided on Marvin Integrity. That’s what I have in my house (with wood interiors), and I’m about to put them (with ultrex interiors) in a house I’m remodeling. Btw, Shoji White (the color of the white house you found?) is one of the colors I’m considering for the exterior.

    1. I really wanted the Marvin Integrity too, but they were just so crazy expensive. Amazing window though!

      I’m collecting exterior paint samples for my house right now (Shoji included), but it hard because we haven’t chosen a rock yet. We know we are going with a lighter limestone, but thats it so far. I don’t want the paint to look dingy next to it, or look too blazing white. You don’t happen to have a light limestone on your house do you?

      1. My limestone is probably darker than you have in mind — it’s Leuders, kind of a mid-range beige with some darker oranges and reds. If you want to take a look just in case, you can see it pretty well in the main picture on my blog (which must have been taken right after we landscaped; the plants are so much bigger now!).

  6. I like the choice that you’ve made. I think they might end up being more timeless. Black frames are super trendy and we may not love them as much down the road as we do now. There’s an antique stone farmhouse down the road from us, and its windows used to be that clay colour. The new owners painted them black, and it’s way too harsh. The windows look like black holes now.

  7. Wow, 44 windows! That IS a lot. It sounds like the price you’re getting is really excellent for that. Perhaps there’s some way to change the colour later (future DIY post?) Something must paint on PlyGem…
    I love how the black windows look, and it seems ridiculous that the colour should make such a difference in the price. But I think your colour looks pretty too, and perhaps there are other things you can do to give the windows that punch that the black ones seem to have.
    Exciting to see the house coming along! How goes life with all those little guys?

  8. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer here, but be sure to check ALL of your screens…

    I bought a fixer-upper last year and the windows (Ply-Gem in Clay) have been my biggest headache to date. The biggest part of that was the fault of the big box store installation team, however. The windows themselves are all pretty and operate well, but I have found that several of the screens were crammed in to the opening so tightly that they can not be removed without being damaged. On the contrary, a few were about 1/4 inch too small for the opening, so opening the windows let in every little insect and the spiders think that between the window and screen is a great place to set up house. Last Sunday…many many months after installation and several screen reorders later, the manager of the big box store I mentioned came out with what we hoped were screens in the correct size. WRONG AGAIN! I’m not sure if the measurements are off on this end or on the manufacturing end, but I know I am so over this whole window thing!

    Your house is looking great, though! Sorry for my negativity! :)

    1. No no, you’re not being negative! Quite the opposite, it’s really helpful to hear about your experience. Sorry you are having such issues, though I am relieved to hear it’s with the screens and not the actual window. Ours aren’t being installed by a big box store, and the screens aren’t on yet…evidently they come back and put those on after the construction is complete. Hopefully we don’t have the same issue. Thanks for the heads up!

  9. Wow! 44 windows, I would be in heaven! Our house has 4 windows. 5 if you count small one in the basement. It’s a small house at only 950 sq ft but you are living my dream! Thanks for sharing, It’s been a joy following along!

  10. My husband and I just got clay windows too. How are you going to trim the windows on the interior? What color window trim do you plan on using? Clay? White? I need help. We have wood windows throughout the house but updated our sunroom windows. Now I am stuck deciding how I should trim out these new clay windows. Thanks.

  11. I was hoping you could share how you plan on finishing your windows on the interior. What color do you plan on painting the interior trim surrounding your windows? Thanks.

  12. I didn’t know that black vinyl window frames could actually melt in hot environments. That’s pretty intense. However, it worked out for you, because I really like the brown window frames you went with! Like you said, they add a bit of contrast without being too overbearing; I think it’s great. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi! I had the same issues with our builder. I wanted black aluminum after searching Houzz. I LOVED all the pictures I’d seen. But alas, the don’t do black. OK so I picked the Plygem clay. I wanted it to be more “gray”, but I chose exterior and interior paint that coordinated. My QUESTION is WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR SCREENS?? The metal trim I mean. We are still waiting for ours and our builder has screwed up EVERYTHING. So now I’m nervous they will be BRIGHT WHITE!

    1. The metal trim on my screens is the same color as the windows, clay. I really had my heart set on the black windows too, but we’ve had the clay ones for over a year now and I do really like them. They match pretty much everything and offer a little definition without being overbearing.

  14. Hi Ashley,
    I’m a bit late to this post. I’m renovating a cottage and was hoping to get Aluminum/silver colored metal windows. I’ve had Don Young installed in a previous home – they look very good with MCM. I got a bid on my cottage and I was blown away at the price – almost $15k!! I went my favorite guy at the big box store and he highly recommended ply gem. He said I can get them silver. It’s been a couple of years that you’ve had your windows. Any advice…after the fact? I’d like to be prepared as much as possible.

  15. Thank you for this post and your extra input. I’m in the rabbit hole of windows as we build our house and strongly considering the Ply Gem windows. Your post is helping me make that decision much easier.
    Do you still like them after 3-4 years?

  16. I’m currently at 4000 hours of research and counting on my own window saga. Thanks for this post. You may have literally saved me $30k.

  17. I just picked out these same windows for the exact same reasons and could not find an example picture. Thank you for this post. I was feeling very alone in the building world.

  18. I just picked out these same windows for the exact same reasons and could not find an example picture. Thank you for this post. I was feeling very alone in the building world.

  19. We just closed on our interim loan this morning!! Our builder told me weeks ago to pick out the color I want for our window trim bc windows are 6 weeks out. I have done SO MUCH research… Pintrest, google, driving around looking at other houses, etc to figure out what color I want…black, clay, white or almond (my fav in order). I have been told black will fade in 5 years so it’ll have to be repainted (I live in Texas as well), white seems to be the all around “going” color but clay is “new-ish” to me and I don’t feel like I’ve seen it on a lot of houses. The exterior will be light brick and stone, inside will be grey walls w/ white trim. I am worried the clay will not look clay against some colors, it’ll rather look almond… which I DON’T want. I just came across your blog today and value it VERY much! I wanted to see if you feel your clay window trim is true “clay” or do you feel it has a different hue when next to different colors?

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