Pella vs Marvin


Show Notes:


Hello and thank you for joining me for this episode of the whitewash studio podcast.

My name is Marc Sawyer and I’m your architect. My goal is to give you the knowledge so you can advance your dream of creating the ideal home for you and your family.

Today we are going to get into a little bit of a competition here. Who or which is better? Marvin vs Pella. This is not something that I take on very frequently. Pinning one product against another, but you know this is a legit question and I think it really needs to be looked at and examined.

This question comes from D on

D asks,

“I am currently trying to decide between the Marvin Integrity Wood-Ultrex windows versus the Pella Pro-Line. Any thought?”

I can see why you might be questioning which is better because when you really get down to the numbers each manufacturer uses a different rating systems and standards to prove their worth or to describe their features. Basically both the Pella Proline 450 series and the Marvin Integrity Wood-Ultrex Series windows both of them are clad wood windows.

Which means that the window is made from a majority of wood and the exterior has an extruded aluminum fastened to the exterior in the case of the Pella and it has a pultruded fiberglass in the case of the Marvin. This provides that extra durability and weather protection on the exterior.

Marvin Product Performance Guide
Marvin Wood-Ultrex Product Guide

Pella Product Performance Guide

Pella’s highlighted feature is the EnduraClad Aluminum-Clad exterior that comes in standard and feature (or more expensive) colors. This is a trademarked protective finish. It’s a baked-on finish that’s applied to the aluminum. Which means that it’s not like paint it will not peal and you shouldn’t see any fading or need to repaint in several years.

The product lines that Pella offers are the vinyl 350 series, the Impervia, which is a fiberglass window, the Proline, then the Designer, Then the Architect Series. We could do an entire episode on just the Pella products. These all range in price with the lowest cost being the vinyl and the most expensive being the Architect Series.

Marvin Integrity Wood-Ultrex Series window was voted most efficient window of 2014 by EnergyStar. That rating was given based on a Tripane Low E glazed window. The Integrity window features the Ultrex cladding which is referred to as a pultruded fiberglass that according to Marvin outlasts vinyl and roll-formed aluminum as well as other fiberglass composites. The benefits is a much stronger window that resists fading, chalking, peeling and cracking.

The Marvin company has several different product lines and they separate them into what looks like three distinct companies. There is Marvin which is their higher end line. Everything is custom and built to order with this line. The next is the Integrity line which is the clad wood windows. Then the last line is the Infinity Line. The infinity line is marketed as their replacement line that is entirely made from the Ultrex fiberglass. I would say similar to the Pella Impervia, but I’m sure a sales rep would argue differently.

When it comes to comparing the windows I am going to base it off several factors. 15 Different items.
1. Window Types Available
2. Durability and Performance
3. Thermal Rating
4. Air Infiltration
5. Water Resistance
6. Design Pressure
7. If rated for Hurricanes
8. Security
9. Operation
10. Interior and Exterior Finish
11. Glazing
12. Sound Transmission
13. Accessories
14. Colors
15. and Warranty

1. Window Type
The window types for both windows are pretty standard. They both offer the Awning, Bay, Casement, and Double-hung. Where then Pella offers more fixed sizes that can be used in combination, Marvin offers some other shapes that are more custom for Pella. Marvin offers a Polygon shape as well as a half round.

2. Durability and Performance
Both Pella and Marvin have good ratings when it comes to durability and performance. Each one offers no fading, chalking or peeling. If anything the Marvin might have a little advantage when it comes to durability because of the fiberglass durability over the clad aluminum which could be dented or damaged under direct impact.

3. Thermal Performance
When it comes to thermal performance, aluminum and wood expand and contract when temperatures change. They contract at different speeds or at a different rate and by a variety of amounts. So when a Pella window starts to heat up in the morning, the sun warms the exterior and the aluminum starts to expand and grow, but the interior wood might be stable. The windows are designed to accommodate this change and movement of materials, but it’s something you should be aware of. One advantage the Integrity window has over the aluminum clad is that the exterior fiber glass has less expansion than aluminum, wood, and vinyl. This make for a more stable and consistent exterior finish. Since it is made from glass it expands at the same rate as the glazing. Allowing for a more consistent, less dramatic change.

The Marvin Double-Hung Insulated Glass with Low E coating has a U-factor of 0.34 and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of 0.53. The U-factor is 1 over the R-Value. So that is an R-value of around 3. Pella offers a very similar R-Value of 3. But I will get in to a little more detail later on in this comparison.

4. Air infiltration
This is where things start to get a little complicated to compare. The air infiltration of the windows seem to be rated based on two different standards.

I looked into what the standards are based on and pulled out some interesting information. Most of the standards are rated to give a cfm/sf at a certain pressure of wind. Cfm is cubic feet per minute. It is the measurement use to measure a volume of air. So what this measurement is giving us is how much air or what is the volume of air moving through or being allowed to pass through the window if a certain amount of wind pressure is applied to the exterior face of the window.

The Pella window ranges from 0.05 to 0.30 cfm at 1.57 psf.

The Marvin window gives very little information only stating that they achieved an A3 rating from CSA-A440 testing. I had to scour the internet to even find what the A3 was referring to. I found that the A3 standard for a picture window was 0.04 cfm/sf. That means that if the window meets that 0.04 rating it would fall in line with what Pella was stating or maybe a little better.

I’m sorry, but they have got to make this easier to compare. Who knows what a CSA-A440 A3 rating even means. If you go to the CSA website you can’t find anything. But I did eventually find what this rating is all about.

The A ratings have to do with Max Air Leakage Rates and are measured in mcubed/h *m to the negative 1. Basically the highest rating you can get on an operable window is the A3 Rating and that is 0.55. A fixed window will give you almost half that at 0.25.

5. Water Resistance
When it comes to the water resistance rating, Pella says none at 7.5 psf to 15 psf of water pressure being applied to the window. That is about a water tight as it gets.

Marvin has a B2 rating. Again, who knows what that means. The chart I found says the ratings go from B1 to B7 or 150 Pa, which is the Water Leakage Test Pressure Differential. So the Marvin window received a 200 Pa. I don’t know how to really judge that.

6. Design Pressure
Again with this last major design factor Pella is more straight forward with 30-50 psf given as the design pressure. Marvin gives the C2 rating which relates to the Wind Load Resistance Test Pressure or (kPa) and C2 is a 2.0. Basically they are both good based on the information available.

Click to access consumer_guide.pdf

7. Hurricane Shield
When it comes to hurricane winds and protection, If you are in the coastal areas D or you need to meet certain criteria for hurricane winds, You would have to move up to the Architect series window if you were going with Pella. Designer and ProLine are not certified in hurricane zones.

Marvin also has an option to move up the the impact zone 3 window for added wind and impact resistance for hurricane zones.
Double-Hung has a rating of DP40 and can be upgraded to DP50 for hurricane zones.
Dp stands for the design pressure. DP40 is design pressure of 40 and Dp50 is 50. Hurricane rated windows need to be rated for 50.

8. Security
Pella highlights their security and label it as an ASTM level 10 security grade from forced entry resistance, which I believe is a rating that they are achieving with their laminated glazing. Marvin does not really mention it or offer any information on it.

9. Operating
Both windows operate the same or similar. I have noticed just with opening a Pella window that the window is a snug fit and creating a very tight seal so you have to give it a far amount of force to open it. The documents say 40 lbs of force. I could not find information on Marvin’s operation. What I would say is go to a show room and open and close the windows. See if you feel comfortable with the amount of pressure then increase it a little since you will be getting new windows.

10. Interior and Exterior Finish
Pella and Marvin both offer clear Pine with no visible fastener holes. Pella treats with Pella’s EnduraGuard wood protection to help prevent moisture decay and mold. Also adds level of protection against termites.

Marvin offers the bare wood pine or the pre-finished white interior. The bare wood can be stained to match your interior in the field.

Pella offers Unfinished wood made of pine, factory primed, factory painted, or factory stained. They offer 8 colors. One being a natural clear coat. But having that option to have the windows pre-finished interior and exterior is a large advantage.

Pella has the pre-finished aluminum clad option where as Marvin has the pre-finished fiberglass clad that has the ability to be painted. So Little more flexibility with the Marvin but at the same time the durability and consistency of the pre-finished aluminum is appealing.

11. Glazing
Pella – Dual-Pane Low-E insulating glass is standard, but you can also add SunDefense Low-E, Advanced Comfort Low-E or Natural Sun Low-E Coatings. If we look at the Glazing performance the standard Low-E coating Insulating Glass with Argon has a U-factor of .30 and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient of .30 with a Visible Light Transmission % of 57 and Condensation Resistance of 54. R-value is 1/u-factor so it would have a R-value of 3.33.

Marvin – Has three levels of Low-E and they label them as E1, E2, and E3. If we compare the coating with a similar U-factor as the Pella window of .28 with argon right out of the gate you are looking at a slightly higher R-value of 3.57 compared to Pella’s 3.33. The SHGC is .70 with a visible light transmission of 79%. In order to reduce the SHGC to that similar to Pella you would need to move to the Low E3 coating that provides .27 SHGC and a VLT % of 65. The end resulting R-value of 4.16.

All in all the Marvin window appears to perform better with a higher R-value and more visible light transmission.

12. Sound Transmission Class
The sound transmission class is a rating to measure the amount of sound resistance an assembly has. The higher the rating the higher the resistance to sound transmission.
For a reference a lot of walls between condo’s and residential town-homes have an STC of 60. Just because of the nature of the glass there will be some sound transmission.
Pella has a rating of 25 stc and Marvin has a rating of 27 stc. So I would say the are the same or equal.

13. Accessories
When it comes to grilles, the two manufacturers seem to be very similar as well. Pella offers a variety of grill options including Inside, GBG or grilles between glass, and simulated divided light. Those are the three options for grilles. Removable room side grilles, GBG, SDL.

Marvin offers Simulated Divided Lites with or without the spacer bar. They also have grilles between glass, and wood interior grilles. The patterns are fairly verse as well.

Pella features the factory installed self-aligning surface mounted sash lock. The finish is baked enamel in 5 colors. Champagne color locks are standard on unfinished units and White is standard on primed white units. The Pella locks are advertised as being cam-action locks that increase the leverage as the window is closed to assure a weathertight seal.

Marvin hardware is a touch above the Pella factory installed hardware. The design of the hardware is more fluid has a contemporary look. The colors are available in 5 standard colors.

Pella offers something marvin does not when it comes to screens. Pella has invested some time and innovation in developing the InView screens or Vivid View Screens. Vivid View screens offer 78% light transmission. They offer more light transmission and will be less obstructive to your view.

Marvin did not highlight their screens other than to say that they are standard and ship with each operating window at no extra cost. Each screen will be an extra charge when choosing Pella. But, I did want to mention that they offer a retractable screen for their casement windows. So the screen is concealed to one side until pulled out across the window. Since the window on casements swing out the screen is on the inside of the room.

14. Colors
What colors are available? Well Pella offers a pre-finished stain, pre-finished white, bright white, linen white or factory primed interior. The exterior standard colors are White, Tan, Putty or Brown. There are 23 other feature colors but custom colors is not an option.

Because of the nature of the fiberglass Marvin Ultrex exterior is paintable and they claim that it holds dark colors better than vinyl. It does come in 8 standard finishes or pre-finished exteriors.

15. Warranty
Pella – They offer a transferrable limited warranty for glass, workmanship and materials for specified Pella products.
* Nonglass components – transferable 10 year
* Nonlaminated glass – transferable 20 year
* Laminated glass – transferable 10 year
* EnduraClad plus exterior paint – 20 year
* Vivid View Screen – 5 year
* Interior factory finish – 2 year
* Then they have a bunch of disclaimers of what they don’t cover.

Marvin – They offer a transferrable limited warranty as well.
* Insulated tempered glass has a 20 year warranty and Non-tempered glass is warrantied against cracks for 10 years.
* Non-glass components – transferable 10 year
* They have very limited warranty on warp as well as water management and don’t warranty thermal efficiency.
* Then they have the list of disclaimers of what they don’t cover.
* You can see the warranty on the website to read further

D This was fun and I hope that you found it helpful. I’m really glad that you asked this question. I think it was a very valuable question that can help a lot of other people in a similar situation to yours. Now if you have a question about a design that your struggling with, you can email me:

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