Consumer Complaints and Reviews
Built my home in 1999. Replaced close to 20% of windows while still under 10 year warranty. Next 8 years have been spent replacing more including some that were replaced under warranty! Frames and wood rotted and seals between two glass leak causing discoloration. Hardware also poor and does not function as it should.
Absolutely awful. We built a custom, architecturally designed house in 2008; it is a big house with many windows. We've had at least 8 windows explode, one just this morning. The wood sashes wouldn't hold paint and from what the factory "repairman" has told us, Kolbe has been aware of these problems. We're going to have to have our attorney handle it from here.
I purchased my aluminum clad wood Kolbe windows about 14 years ago as a Kolbe & Kolbe product dealer. I have been a professional glazier and cabinet maker for over 40 years and as such I made sure the window installation was perfect on my home. The windows are double hung and have always operated hard. My wife has broken her fingernails numerous times operating these windows. A few weeks ago a tree service contractor sent a rock through one of the windows and since the sash cannot be reglazed I contacted Kolbe for a replacement.
The glass company I have worked at for 38 years is no longer a Kolbe dealer so I contacted the closest Kolbe dealer (Hayward Lumber) and after numerous unsuccessful calls for pricing I was told that "Kolbe makes an excellent window but their service is terrible". I was also told that Kolbe does not keep older records so they don't have a clue what size replacement sash to build. If I could get the "Visible glass size" the dealer could price it immediately. I called with these measurements this morning and called again this afternoon but still do not have a price or any indication of how long it may take to get my broken window fixed. The representative at Hayward is busy, but very polite and I get the impression that there is minimal to no support from Kolbe. I would NEVER buy these windows again. I wish I had selected Marvin or some other service oriented company.
I have been in carpentry for over a decade and have installed hundreds, if not thousands of windows and doors from various manufacturers. Never before have I experienced such difficulty all across the board when it comes to the installation and operation of a window. First, the positive. They look nice. Now the negative. For starters, their windows have incredibly tight margins, which is great if you are working in a perfect environment. Out in the real world, however, it's a different story. Everything has to be dialed in to exact perfection with zero room for error. The slightest deviation from this will throw the operation of the window, making them difficult if not impossible to operate.
Three of the windows (French) came with no locking hardware of any kind. As I mentioned already, the margins were so tight that I had to remove each window, take off the sliding hardware, and move it a bit just so I would have enough clearance to close the windows. There is a small micro adjustment on the windows, but it did nothing to help. These three windows have to be pushed in by someone on the outside just so the aftermarket hardware can be latched properly.
The latching hardware on the larger French windows is a very intricate system, and some of the latches were placed in the wrong location, if not missing altogether. As a result of trying to get the windows to close, the hardware is mangled to the point of not functioning at all. I noticed that some of the hardware on a few of these large French windows was not even mortised in properly. I call them Monday or Friday windows (Monday-not caring, Friday-thinking about the weekend, not the window). As others have mentioned, we have contacted Kolbe several times. They have sent out field technicians, but the most they have done is tinker with the window a bit and then leave. Due to my negative experience on many levels, I can never in good conscience recommend Kolbe windows and doors. I will do my best to steer future customers away from them. A hefty price tag doesn't always equal a good product.
I purchased every window and four sets of French doors for my custom built home thinking Kolbe was a good company. The purchase was made through Portage Lumber and any and all complaints had to go through them. The purchase was made approximately 2003 or 4. I have since replaced the lock sets 4 times in my French doors due to the faulty system. The company sent out representatives and I was given extra lock sets but the design of these doors is horrible. Whenever we have company I have to review and notify all parties not to open up this door and only this one. Meaning if one of my visitors opens up the right door and has not opened the left door they snap all the locks and at the cost of about three hundred dollars per set you can understand why we are upset. We have resorted to using plastic wire ties to securing the locks of the doors not to be opened.
Sad to say Steve from Kolbe has asked me to send a video and that he would speak to the representatives who came out. I have sent his request and to this day have heard nothing. To compliment him Steve he immediately sent out another lock set overnight as we had no way to secure our home. Imagine having French doors and not being able to use them? Or having to secure your locks with wire ties so your visitors will not break the locks in your doors? I have also had one window explode which the company did replace and sent out immediately.
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We installed Kolbe Windows on an extensive remodel and addition. They are the double hung, aluminum clad type with wood on the inside. Also a large sliding door, the window package was $ 18,400.00. The windows sweat and leak, we have mold growth all over our windows. You can see where the moisture is coming in, it has created an unhealthy environment in our bedrooms. Even with documentation, pictures, and info from our builder (long time reputable builder) they deny any issue. Kolbe is at its best in running away from problems, they take no responsibility at all, and do not stand behind their product. There has been many lawsuits. Stay away from this brand, and their poor customer service.
I purchased a Kolbe window as part of a kitchen remodel. The window was to be installed in front of the sink, so my wife would have to lean over the counter to open it. Well, guess what, this window is a double hung, turned sideways, and is not designed to bear the weight of the sash, so my wife can not open. Kolbe sent out a rep but all they do is lubricate the rail which really does not help. The Kolbe rep said he would get the company to mill me a handle to provide a better grip. They sent me a metal handle that looked awful and did not fit. They give lip service to fixing it but the only solution is to buy a Pella -- completely different design that works. I wish I knew that ahead of time.
I installed K&K windows throughout my house in 2001. In 2011 I noticed that the lower rail of a large casement window was rotted essentially to compost. I was able to FINALLY get the company to replace the sash but only after months of back and forth with visits from the retailer, photographs, denials, accusations of poor installation (absolutely not true). Now (2015) I notice at least 4 more sashes experiencing beginning or advanced rot. As another reviewer asked, "Is 12-14 years a reasonable life for such an expensive product?" I am not looking forward to reopening the battle with this company and am unsure how to proceed. It would be great if K&K could at least step up and admit a design flaw. For now, buyer beware!
I'm a professional journeyman painter with 27 years experience. I've been working on a custom home recently and was asked why the builder to come and stain the windows prior to the scratch coat for stucco being installed. I/we went out to the house on a 34 degree Celsius day to prep and stain the windows. At the end of 6 aggravating hours, I was ready to blow up the windows for the condition of the wood. After all the hard work there was silicone from ** to breakfast. Now I have the homeowner second guessing my abilities to competently finish the job.
My company is known for its ability to accomplish the tough jobs with great finishes. I'm a career painter and every time I approach K&K windows there is nothing but problems. I know for a fact that the homeowners can source out local products, it may cost a bit more, but the product is far superior to the crap I'm seeing and have seen over the years. I would recommend sourcing out local goods before dumping thousands on pallet quality windows.
I did an entire house of new windows. Spent approx $100k. One window will never open and they will not fix it. One slider is missing locking mechanism and they have promised for two months to fix and have not. They won't even return calls of my builder. I called corporate in Wisconsin. They did nothing to help.
I purchased Kolbe windows and doors and had them installed in a new home in 2000. Problems with doors and windows were handled by reps who came to the home within the first 3-4 years. A lady named Robin ** was very helpful. Recently I began painting the sashes and replacing the weatherstripping on the casement windows. I then noticed some rotting wood on at least 8 of the sashes. It was the bottom piece near the hardware in all cases. The sides and top of the windows were fine. The frames which had unpainted wood were fine and showed no signs of rot. The contractor who came out to fix the problem said the sills were too flat and did not slant out in order to let any moisture drain out. Basically, a design flaw. The moisture in many cases was trapped and allowed moisture and mold to destroy the bottom wood. Attempts to e-mail and phone the district rep have been unsuccessful. The dealer does not provide much help. I think I'll pay him a personal visit soon. I will continue to call the main office until I get someone who cares. I am extremely dissatisfied with the product and service. I can't believe $40,000 worth of windows will only last 10-12 years.
I purchased a custom Kolbe window through an authorized local dealer. It cost $2,000 and came with a lifetime warranty. It is a dual crank out style window where INSIDE wood edge is cut in a circular arc to give the illusion the window is round. I was told they were a top rate company, and I wanted the best product available. Within the first year the wood had large cracks on the seams where they glued the wood together. The Company did replace that side. The replacement side cracked in exactly the same manner. That time they sent a guy out to fill the cracks and repaint with their special paint.
The same window cracked again. I have to keep the defective side boarded up as the cracks are so large water can come through. I notified the local dealer last September. I emailed lots of pictures to him and the area rep (Carrie **, northern Calif). The local dealer tried numerous time and could not get Kolbe to respond. I contacted an area rep for Kolbe and she said she would come and inspect it...but didn't. I kept at it and they said a company rep was coming to California. He came and viewed the clearly defective window on 8/11/2014. Was non-committal about the resolution. I have not heard back from him or the company. I sent another email today. They clearly are not responsive. Consumers should beware. It is an expensive product and a lack of support on their warranty.
I bought a condo in 2005 and the builder used Kolbe windows and sliding glass doors. Of the 5 sashes, 3 have been replaced. The installer kept saying the sashes, if properly maintained, should last 10-15 years. What? Windows should only last 10-15 years? The home my parents bought in 1951 and sold in the early 80's -The windows were never replaced because they were in excellent shape. Had windows when they sold the home. When the wind blows, I have to close my sash because the sash moves back and forth, back and forth on the wood frame, about 1/2". Eventually the movement will bend the metal components or snap away from the wood. I never heard of Kolbe windows. I think they make low-end products and have no engineers on their staff. The installer was friendly. Hopefully I will be able to sell my unit in a few years and rent.
We moved into a new house in 2007 that had Kolbe windows. I have had problems for some time with windows that at points were hard to crank and would cause a loud banging sound. I would look for interference around the window and saw none. I would spray oil on hinges and where the worm engages the circular gear, but it did not help. A short while ago, when I went to close a window, it would not close properly. The upper portion of the window was at an angle to the lower portion and could not be latched. I called the company and was referred to Pat **. He was a very nice guy and said it sounded like a broken Euro hinge. He asked me to take pictures and email them to him.
I went to the window, opened it up and gripped the upper portion. It was loose and I could see there was a break at the top. Mr. ** had told me that the window could be closed and latched if I had a suction cup to attach to the top of the window to pull it closed. I found my suction cup and closed and latched the window. I called Mr. ** and informed him of what I had found. He told me to call the Service Pro dept. and they would send someone out to check the windows and then someone (it would take two people) would come out to fix them.
When my house was built, the builder built two adjacent houses. I saw my neighbor and asked if they had problems with their windows. I was told they seldom opened the windows, but they too had the problem. I went online and saw a number of complaints about Kolbe windows. I also saw that the windows were warranted for 10 years. I thought great they will take care of the problems. I called the company and spoke to Julie. I told her the story and she said she would contact the Service Pro dept. for me and someone would contact me. She said that dept. was their in house service dept. and that someone would come out and check every window in the house. Julie was very nice and I thanked her.
I was contacted by someone from the Service Pro dept. a business day later. I told him the story and he said that he would arrange for someone to come out and check every window. The cost would be $100/hr and a $75 trip charge. I told him that the house was built in 2007 or maybe 2006 and that I had seen that they had a 10-year warranty. He told me to hold on while checked something. He came back to the phone and said there is no warranty on the mechanism other than replacement of broken parts. I told him I thought the mechanisms were defective. Mr. ** had told me that the banging was probably due to corrosion. That meant that the mechanisms were defective. I asked if they made or bought the Euro hinges. He said he thought they bought them. I told him they should go after the manufacturer of the Euro hinges for selling a defective product. Told me he understood my position. I told him I realized that he was an employee and did not make the rules.
As I understand the situation, it would cost me a lot of money to have someone come out and check my windows and they would not fix them. They would just report back and some person or persons would then come out and repair them at another cost, but I would not have to pay for the parts. Again, this is my present understanding. If I am incorrect I would like to know.
I have tried and tried to make a purchase of a commercial door for my office for over 10 months of a new product.... no follow through, no quote, no anything. If people do not want to sell products then do not offer them. If you are not interested in working or generating income then do not offer to sell me something. In a world where all we hear is how we need American jobs, maybe we should try to do the job you offer.
Kolbe windows and doors were installed in new home in 2000. Door frames required adjusting shortly thereafter. Local dealer handled under warranty. A few years later, the bottom frame of a fixed window showed rot. Local dealer replaced under warranty. Recently, the inner pane of a window (protected by shutters) shattered. In course of reviewing for repair, local dealer found rot in the frame, and then found rot in several more after I insisted on whole house inspection. He removed seal strips from bottom of all our window frames which he said were trapping water. Despite several entreaties, including argument that rot obviously had been occurring for years, and was likely the result of poor design, Kolbe absolutely refused to provide any coverage for the damage. I am now wondering whether I have to budget several thousand dollars every year to replace rotten windows. IMO, Kolbe business practices are disgraceful. Modern (quality) windows should last for many years beyond their shameful 10-year warranty. There is evidence in my experience that Kolbe has no respect for its products or its customers. Stay away from them!
We had the 20 year warrantied epoxy finish that did not last 10 years. The screen doors on three sliding glass doors did not work correctly from day one. One sliding glass door warped so badly the screen doors will not open. Another sliding glass door will not open. We had two pane failures on 4x6 windows and the replacement glass also had moisture inside it. The 4x6 window frame rotted out and has to be replaced. The 8 feet tall double doors warped (cost $4000). The door hardware tarnishes terribly. 4 windows leak horribly. 3 windows are almost impossible to close. These windows were a HUGE mistake to buy. We installed Pella windows in our previous house and were going to do that again until our incompetent contractor talked us into the Kolbe and Kolbe crap. I cannot believe that this company is still in business. Their product is truly a BAD product.
We installed Kolbe & Kolbe windows when we built our retirement home a few years ago. A hailstorm damaged the window sashes, and they had to be replaced. We worked with the distributor's sales and technical personnel when ordering the new sashes. When the sashes arrived, one glass was scratched, there were small dents in two of the aluminum frames, many of the holes were drilled incorrectly, and some had the wrong swing. The distributor's installers did an excellent job of installing the new sashes. Some of the old sashes were rotted on the bottom due in part to the flat metal seal that trapped water for the wood to absorb. The crank mechanism in the original frames were not installed correctly at the factory so the metal interior metal cover on the cranks did not seal correctly. We thoroughly stained and sealed all the wood on the replacement sashes hoping to prolong their life. We do not intend to open the sashes except to dry them after rains. Kolbe & Kolbe needs a better design and improvement in the quality control category. The windows are overpriced.
Bought a new house and they put the Kolbe slide window in. They looked nice until winter came and sand blows right through them. Haven't got a yard in yet. Also the cold air comes in like there was no window at all. Our furnace runs all night with these windows. I put take on all the cracks I could and towels in every window to cut down on the cold air coming in. My towels froze. It's that cold coming in from the windows. Don't let a builder but these windows in your house.
We built a house 12 years ago and put Kolbe & Kolbe windows in. We had moisture on the windows. We called the company and they told us we had to purchase storm windows. The seals on the sliding doors are all ripped. They ripped within the first 4-5 years and I can't seem to find replacement seals. We called the company and they sent us the wrong seals. The double hung windows are junk too. They leak air. The seals are bad between the windows. Can't find replacement seals!!! I do not recommend these windows to anyone!!! Not worth the money!!!
I built a new home 21 years ago. Since day one, moisture has been horrible on all of my crank-outs and slider. Had them come out multiple times the first 5 years, and was told it was the moisture content in home, which even in winter was max 30 percent! You could feel the cold air coming in, which is a seal problem, because hot air from inside meets cold air rushing in, which creates moisture on sills. I got absolutely nowhere with them as far as help! I since had to buy an inner glass piece with seals on them to block the cold air from entering, which has solved the problem, which tells me that the seals, are not working at all, but now 21 years later, my windows are destroyed! I am a painter by trade, and 25 years of working on windows, have never seen such a crappy design.
They should have been sued, and made to fix these issues. I have even worked on their newer lines, and they too leak, and will have the same issues. So if you're in the market for windows, these would be the last I would recommend, and the service is non-existent, and they will ALWAYS tell you it is your inside humidity! I had humidity gauges in every room before they came the last time, and said it was moisture, and I showed them the gauges in every room, and they said, "Well then you need fans in rooms to keep the moisture off glass." Bunch of lies!
I bought a 12-year-old home with K & K windows and doors. We have had numerous problems with the K & K products, including: windows breaking due to Argon gas leaking out of the dual pane windows causing the panes of glass to bend in and break (the window exploded directly above my 10-year-old daughter while she was sitting on the sofa on a weekend morning) and rotting sashes on both doors and windows. It has now been seven months since I first spoke directly with a K & K employee responsible for the northeastern US. Despite having more than half a year to respond, they still have not replied with a complete proposal. Their response to date has been slow, incomplete and is far short of taking responsibility for known defective products. Based on direct experience with K & K product quality and customer service, I strongly recommend against using K & K products.
Attached is a picture of the broken window showing what happens (for no reason other than a defective manufacturing process) when the windows shatter.
We are contractors and install hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of windows and doors a year. One particular project used the French casement extensively, and we have had rotting sill problems since they were installed 8 years ago. The sill has no pitch and water sits under the sash frame, despite there being weep holes for drainage, thereby rotting the frames. We are being told we have to pay to replace the sash, so I guess the 10-year warranty is just a lie. We have had the distributor back to this job on a yearly basis to make hardware adjustments, minor repairs and replacement work. And have had to pay for it.
Pleas to the distributor have fallen on deaf ears, and we just keep paying for the work because our customers shouldn't have to. This particular project took up over 250 hours of our time to resolve warranty and product issues just in the first year alone. We will never use any Kolbe product again; in fact this same customer built an addition a few years back and we used another manufacturer despite the new windows being adjacent to the existing Kolbe ones.
In 1998, we built our first home in Chester County, PA and used Kolbe and Kolbe windows and doors. We had installed 98 windows and 18 exterior doors. What a nightmare the last 14 years have been. I have had the windows painted and caulked every couple of years and they still have been a maintenance nightmare. Tens of thousands of dollars spent in repairs and thousands on replacement windows. Calls to the distributor, North American Window, were useless. Calls to the manufacturer were useless. They could care less. They gave me every excuse why it was my fault. The wood rot was extensive; most sills have been replaced and or covered with metal. The system they use for sealing the side of the double hangs is horrible; I can pass a pencil between most window frames and the window.
I replace 5 to 10 of the guides every year. I have to order and you would think they would at least give them to me. I have had many casement windows rot out at the hinges and fall out when I have opened them. I am not kidding. I beg you, stay away from this company. They do not stand behind their product. I plan on replacing all windows in the near future. I have several good friends who built around the same time and used these windows. Same issues and same response from the company.
We installed about 40 Kolbe Ultra Clad Windows in 2003. We have since discovered that the windows sashes (both fixed and active) are rotting away. The problem appears to be in the lack of angle in the sill. The sill has an almost non-existent angle which allows water to stand on the sill. It is subsequently wicked up into the sash (aluminum clad I might add) and rots the sash. The distributor (North American Windows & Doors in West Chester, PA) came to investigate and determined the windows were installed correctly and agreed to replace about half of the sashes. This however only covers half the problem as all but four of the windows are rotting. It also is only a band-aid on the problem since the sill appears to be the issue. The problem will not be resolved unless the entire window is replaced.
I contacted Kolbe directly to say I dispute North American's assessment and would they please have a rep come out but they told me they stand behind their distributor. We are talking about $40,000 worth of windows plus installation. I am getting nowhere fast with Kolbe or their distributor and don't know what to do. Evidently, I am not the only one with this problem as I have found numerous complaints on home improvement blogs. I wish there was a class action lawsuit to get involved in so I can get some money back and replace these windows with something better by a company that stands behind their product. Whatever you do, do not buy Kolbe and Kolbe products. You will be sorry.
We installed top of the line Kolbe wood windows (K-Kron finish) when we built our home in 1997. The windows have been nothing but problems. Kolbe doesn't stand behind them. The windows have been expensive to repair and as a result, I am totally done with this company. We purchased the windows locally and every couple of years, the windows need $1000's in repairs by these local guys. Now they tell me that Kolbe and Kolbe's answer is to replace the brick mold, sills and frames with extruded aluminum at, get this, $5,000 for 8 windows.
Just as the windows that rotted over the years prior, these 8 windows have rotted at the joint where the sill meets the frame (along with the sill nose). This is a manufacturer defect, either with the type of wood they use or the assembly process itself. Kolbe will not step up. I have already sunk thousands in repairs and am now saying bye bye Kolbe, I've learned my lesson. I'm off to find a window company whose products don't require major maintenance every couple of years and a company that will stand behind their products.
We built our home in 2001 and used Kolbe Windows, which have the wood rotting. One whole window blew out of the home from a rainstorm from the rotting situation. If there is a class action lawsuit regarding these faulty windows, please advise! Thank you.
The Kolbe & Kolbe Windows we have in our home are rotting away from the bottom. Conveniently, they are outside of the 10-year warranty on the wood portion of the window. We have been informed by the company we have hired to do the replacement of the rotted sashes that this is a manufacturing error. The factory should have put a silicone seal where the glass meets the frame on the outside - they did not. The absence of the silicone seal allows water to run behind the frame from the outside and over time, rot the wood. The factory's standard reply is that the consumer did not properly seal the wood on the windows or there is condensation from inside the home. This is not the case.
How could we seal the wood behind the outside frame of the window? Water should never have been allowed to get there in the first place. We have read numerous complaints of identical nature on the internet posted from other consumers in the same situation throughout the country. Our neighbor across the street has the exact same problem. These are extremely costly repairs of which 100% of the cost must be paid by the consumer because conveniently, the wood portion of the window is outside of the 10-year warranty. Furthermore, from what we are reading in the numerous complaints, often the replacement of the sashes does not solve the problem either.
We therefore feel this is an epidemic flaw in the manufacture of Kolbe & Kolbe Windows. The approximate time frame of affected windows is the ones that were manufactured between approximately 1996-2003. We would very much like to know if there is a class action suit in process related to this matter and if so, we would like to be a part of it. If there is not, would there be a law firm interested in pursuing such a class action suit?
We purchased pre-finished wood Kolbe windows for a new home. The finish peeled off almost entirely in less than twelve months, and we had to pay to re-finish all the windows in the house. Kolbe refused to accept responsibility (they refused to reimburse us for most of the bill), claiming that the problem was "condensation" despite the fact that there was no evidence of abnormal condensation or moisture. Kolbe tried to tell us that it must be condensation which caused the damage, because we live in the cold – in the mountains! Apparently, they do not warrant their windows for mountain areas. Based on their attitude, I would never recommend purchasing Kolbe windows to anyone.
I built custom house 12 years ago with Kolbe and Kolbe windows and doors. I have had repeated rotting of sashes and frames and Kolbe and Kolbe makes it seemed like our fault, like we are to yearly sand, repair and paint these windows. I had a contractor recaulk every window and it still has issues. This will be the 4th time I have had people out to work on these windows. Do not waste your money buying these windows.
Joseph TruiniHome Improvement Contributing Editor
Joseph Truini is a home improvement expert who writes extensively about do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair, woodworking projects and tools and techniques. His work has appeared in several national magazines, including This Old House, Popular Mechanics, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and Today’s Homeowner.
Kolbe Windows and Doors was founded in 1946 by brothers Herb and Ervin Kolbe, who were Wisconsin dairy farmers. Working out of their mother’s washhouse, they began repairing broken window frames and building new window sashes. Today, the company has grown into an international window and door company with seven locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado.
- Varied offering: Kolbe manufacturers six different window lines in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and styles. The company also offers a line of high-quality, low-maintenance fiberglass entry doors that feature a realistic wood-grain texture with stained finish.
- Energy-efficient windows: Energy-efficient windows meet government specifications that may qualify for tax rebates. Kolbe offers windows in every imaginable shape and size, including all-wood windows, all vinyl windows and aluminum-clad wood windows in a choice of nine different wood species.
- Customizable accessories: Consumers who want to emulate a specific architectural style can choose from a wide range of stylish handles, grills and seal types to help create the look they want.
- Best for Kolbe Windows and Doors are best for people who are environmentally conscious, homeowners, business owners and landlords.
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Kolbe Windows and Doors Company Profile
- Company Name:
- Kolbe Windows and Doors
- Year Founded:
- 1211 Depot St.
- Postal Code:
- United States