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Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential Window Collection: Which is better for me?

October 21st, 2021 | 11 min. read

Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential Window Collection: Which is better for me?

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A graphic of two double hung windows, one white and one wood, with the words "essential" and "ultimate" on the window glass and a 'vs.' in between them. There is a wood frame border around the image.

Whether you notice visual deterioration around your windows or have just been itching for an upgrade, finding the right replacement window can be hard. 

You know you’re looking for something high-quality and long-lasting but aren’t yet sure if you’re looking for a more modern design or a traditional one. 

Finally, you find Marvin Windows. They seem to offer all the options you’re looking for - modern and simple or classic and historical. 

But which is right for you? How can you narrow it down to one window style? 

When looking for a new window, you have to determine what you want and research window material types, styles, prices, and efficiency. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement expert in San Antonio since 1989. We offer a variety of windows from different manufacturers to provide you with the highest quality product to fit your needs. 

We offer the Marvin Ultimate and Marvin Essential window collections because of their durability, efficiency, and exceptional design.

This article will compare the Marvin Ultimate and Essential window collections in their material, durability, design capabilities, and energy efficiency. 

After reading, you will know the key distinctions between these two window collections. Then, you can choose which window may be the right one for you. 

Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential: What are the windows made of? How durable are they?

When looking for replacement windows, the first thing you want to analyze is what the window is made out of. Windows come in all different types of materials like fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, and wood. 

Each material type has its pros and cons, some of which may be more important to you than others. With material type, you can look at the benefits and drawbacks of how the window looks, its durability and longevity, and maintenance. 

What is the Marvin Ultimate window made of? 

The Marvin Ultimate window is a wood window with an aluminum-clad exterior. This allows you to have the classic look of a wood window on the inside without the added maintenance of a wood exterior. 

What are the benefits of aluminum-clad windows? 

The biggest benefit of having an aluminum-clad window is the lack of interior and exterior maintenance. Wood windows require heavy upkeep on the exterior to make them last and maintain their look. 

If wood exteriors are not properly sealed and maintained as time goes on, they are susceptible to rotting and decaying. 

Marvin Ultimate windows in particular are made with extruded aluminum. This aluminum cladding is thicker than and stronger than rolled-on aluminum, where the aluminum is rolled over the wood frame. Extruded aluminum cladding is extremely durable and can withstand rain, heat, wind, hail, and more. 

This makes the Marvin Ultimate window durable and almost maintenance-free with the benefits of the wood window look. 

What are the drawbacks of the aluminum clad windows? 

There are almost no drawbacks as far as durability and material of the Marvin Ultimate wood and aluminum clad window. 

Because the interior of the window is all wood, it will still require proper maintenance to make sure the window is properly sealed and cared for on the outside as well. Aluminum has improved in durability and strength over the years, making it versatile and usable in any climate. 

What is the Marvin Essential window made of? 

The Marvin Essential window is made of pultruded fiberglass. This fiberglass type is engineered to be flexible, allowing it to expand and contract with the heat and cold. 

What are the benefits of pultruded fiberglass windows?

Fiberglass overall is one of the most durable window materials on the market. Because pultruded glass is more flexible than vinyl or other fiberglass, this prevents the window from cracking and snapping when exposed to changing temperatures. 

The finish on the fiberglass windows is also resistant to fading, chipping, and chalking. This means your windows will require little maintenance to keep them looking fresh. 

A material like fiberglass and aluminum can also be subject to excessive conductivity and corrosion. However, Marvin’s fiberglass window is made to be non-conductive and non-corrosive, meaning it will not deteriorate or trap heat. 

This fiberglass window is made to last and maintain its looks years after installation, making it a very durable window. 

What are the drawbacks of pultruded fiberglass windows? 

Like the Marvin Ultimate window, this fiberglass window has practically no drawbacks. It is an incredibly durable and long-lasting window made to withstand changing climates. 

The only potential drawback of a fiberglass window would be its aesthetics if you are looking for something with a softer appearance. 

Overall, the Marvin Ultimate and Marvin Essential windows are both durable, low maintenance, and high-quality to last for years after installation. If you are a long-term homeowner looking for a lifetime solution, then either of these windows could be right for you. 

The biggest difference between the two will be their aesthetics and how each window looks. 

Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential: How do they look? What can I customize? 

After reviewing the material and durability of each window, the way the window looks on your home is probably what you are most interested in. You want to make sure a window can be designed the way you want and give you the look that fits into your home. 

Here we will review what each window type looks like and what their customization options are so that you know if either window will provide you with the look you want. 

What does the Marvin Ultimate window look like? 

Because the Marvin Ultimate window is a clad window, you will have a classic wood frame interior with a sleek aluminum exterior. 

This window is ideal if you want a traditional-looking wood window on the inside of your home but don’t want to have to worry about maintaining a wood exterior. 

A deconstructed aluminum clad window with white exterior and wood interior.An aluminum clad exterior window with a grid pattern against a white background.

Marvin Ultimate wood interior with aluminum clad exterior and double-hung window

What does the Marvin Essential window look like? 

As a complete fiberglass window, the Marvin Essential collection provides a sleek, modern look for your new windows. This window is a great fit if you like a low-profile style and want something that is simple and polished.

A close up of a white window with a white latch on the sash.A double hung window in a dark wood color against a white background.

Marvin Essential fiberglass window and double-hung window

What can you customize on the Marvin Ultimate and Marvin Essential windows?

Customizability is a key factor in designing your window to the specifications you want. Whether you’re looking to customize every aspect of your window or aren’t too picky, everyone loves options. 

Here we will compare the design options of the Marvin Ultimate and Essential window collections so you can see if the window can give you a look you love. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Window Type and Shape

The Marvin Ultimate window can be made in 27 different types and in a custom shape. Custom windows can be made to open and close and do not have to be picture windows.

The Marvin Essential window can be made in seven different window types and also in a custom shape. 

The biggest difference between the two windows in this category is that the Marvin Ultimate collection offers more window types. However, both windows can be made in custom shapes to fit your home and style. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Colors

The Marvin Ultimate window has a large variety of exterior finish colors as well as the option to choose a custom color. The Marvin Essential window offers six different finish options and does not have the ability to customize the exterior color. 

The wood interior of the Marvin Ultimate window is offered in seven different wood species, seven wood stain options, and three paint finish options. 

The interior of the Marvin Essential window is available in three colors: bronze, ebony, and white. A bronze interior is only available with a bronze exterior. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Hardware

Marvin Ultimate offers 10 different lock options for the various window types. However, each lock type is specific to one style of window. For example, a double-hung sash lock cannot be used on a casement window, and vice versa. There are 10 finish options for the window.

Marvin Essential offers five lock options with six finish color options. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Screens

The Marvin Ultimate collection offers five different screen styles and six mesh options for the screen. 

The Marvin Essential collection only offers one type of style and mesh type. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Divided Lites

For all Marvin windows, you can choose between simulated divided lites with or without a spacer in the glass, grids between the glass, or authentic divided lites. 

The Marvin Ultimate collection offers a wide variety of divided lite patterns as well as the option for a custom pattern. Patterns can include various shapes and curves. 

The Marvin Essential collection offers 13 divided lite patterns without the option for custom design. The divided lite patterns are only available in rectangular patterns. 

Ultimate vs. Essential: Trim

The Marvin Ultimate window offers eight different trim casing options and six additional subsill options for the bottom of the window. 

The Marvin Essential window offers three different trim options for these fiberglass windows. 

Overall, the Marvin Ultimate collection offers many more customization options than the Marvin Essential collection. 

If you are looking for a window that offers nearly endless custom options in color, grid pattern, window shape, and trim, then the Marvin Ultimate window may be the right one for you. 

However, if you are looking for a simple design with still many customization options, then the Marvin Essential window might be right for you. 

Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential: Which is more energy efficient? 

Your windows protect your home. You want to make sure they are able to not only withstand the weather elements but insulate your home and keep exterior air and excess sun heat out. 

When talking about energy efficiency, technical measurements are taken to measure how much UV light is penetrating through the glass and how much heat is coming through. We will define those terms here. 


This measures how well a window can insulate. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U-Factor for windows generally ranges from 0.20 – 1.20.

The more your window can insulate, the better your house will keep heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

The Marvin Ultimate double-hung window has a U-factor ranging from 0.20-0.32.

The Marvin Essential double-hung window has a U-factor ranging from 0.25-0.48.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

This measures the amount of solar heat that comes through a window, ranging from 0 – 1. The U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer resource, Energy Saver, says the lower the SHGC, the less heat from the sun comes through a window, helping your home to stay cool during a hot summer (and fall and spring if you’re in Texas).

The Marvin Ultimate double-hung window has an SHGC of 0.18-0.52.

The Marvin Essential double-hung window has an SHGC of 0.20-0.62.

Visual Transmittance

This measures how much visible light will come through your window and is measured from 0-1 or as a percentage. The lower the number on the scale, the less light will come through the window. 

The Marvin Ultimate double-hung window has a visible transmittance of 0.39-0.59.

The Marvin Essential double-hung window has a visible transmittance of 0.45-0.65.

All of these measurements do not include extra coatings and vary from window to window. Discover more energy-efficient ratings by using Marvin’s energy data calculator

Overall, both windows are very energy efficient and meet the criteria to be ENERGY STAR certified in Southern regions. You can improve the energy efficiency of a window by adding glass coatings and gas fillings for better insulation. 

While the energy ratings for the Marvin Ultimate double-hung window are better than the Marvin Essential double-hung window, it is hard to rank one over the other because of the custom options to improve efficiency for both. 

However, for the basic window with no additives, the Marvin Ultimate has better energy ratings. 

Marvin Ultimate vs. Marvin Essential: Choosing the right replacement window for you

When choosing a replacement window, consider what elements are most important to you.

Are you looking for the most energy-efficient option but don’t care about the design? Or are you wanting to customize every element of the window and aren’t concerned about the specifications?

If you want plenty of custom design options for the interior, exterior, and glass of your new window, then the Marvin Ultimate window may be right for you. 

If you’re looking for an energy-efficient, sleek design that provides you with the simple style you’re looking for, then the Marvin Essential collection might be the one for you. 

Choosing a replacement window is all about your priorities and goals for your project. What are your priorities? What do you want the end result to look like? 

Another factor to consider for replacement windows is what your budget is. The more customization options for a window, the more it is going to add to the cost

After finding the right replacement window you want, you’re going to have to find a contractor that offers that specific window and can deliver a high-quality installation. 

Finding the right contractor can be hard. You want to ensure that you are properly educated on the window type you are interested in and know how to spot a high-quality contractor versus a low-quality contractor. 

This article will outline six questions you need to ask a window replacement contractor during a consultation so that you will know what answers reveal a high-quality or low-quality contractor. 

Ready to get started on your Marvin window project? 

Southwest Exteriors offers both the Marvin Ultimate and Marvin Essential window collections for your next project. Our crews are certified in installing Marvin windows because we know the importance of attention to detail. 

Your windows are backed by our lifetime warranty for as long as you live in your home. When you work with us, you have a lifelong relationship. 

Are you ready for your Marvin San Antonio window replacement? Schedule a free in-home consultation with a design consultant by filling out the form on our webpage. A representative will call you within five minutes to talk through your project and help schedule your consultation.