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

October 21st, 2021 | 12 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 sure if you’re looking for a more modern or traditional design. 

Finally, you find Marvin Windows. They offer all your options - 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 must 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, you first want to analyze what the window is made of. Windows come in different materials like fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, and wood. 

Each material type has 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 the window's appearance, durability, 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 most significant 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 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, and hail. 

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

What are the drawbacks of aluminum-clad windows? 

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

Because the window's interior is all wood, it will still require proper maintenance to ensure it is properly sealed and cared for on the outside. Aluminum has improved durability and strength, 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 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. 

Fiberglass and aluminum can also be subject to excessive conductivity and corrosion. However, Marvin’s fiberglass window is non-conductive and non-corrosive, which 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 is its aesthetics if you are looking for something softer. 

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

The biggest difference between the two will be their aesthetics and each window's appearance. 


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 in your home is probably what you are most interested in. You want to ensure a window can be designed how you want and give you a look that fits into your home. 

Here we will review what each window type looks like and their customization options 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 clad, 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 your home but don’t want 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 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 key in designing your window to the specifications you want. Whether you want 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 to 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 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 most significant 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 many exterior finish colors and the option to choose a custom color. The Marvin Essential window offers six different finish options and cannot 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 ten 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 ten 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 and 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 sub sill 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. 

However, the Marvin Essential window might be right if you want a simple design with many customization options. 


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

Your windows protect your home. You want to ensure they can withstand the weather elements, insulate your home, and keep exterior air and excess sun heat out. 

When discussing energy efficiency, technical measurements measure how much UV light penetrates 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.

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 energy efficient and meet the criteria for ENERGY STAR certification 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, the Marvin Ultimate has better energy ratings for the basic window with no additives. 


What glass is in the Marvin Essential and Marvin Ultimate Windows? 

Both series include glass from the best glass manufacturer in the country, Cardinal Glass. Different types of LowE are available from Cardinal, ranging from Low E1 to Low ERS. The Ultimate and Essential both come standard with two panes of glass with Low E coatings and argon insulating gas. 


Does the Marvin Essential offer a narrow frame window?


Not specifically. The Marvin Ultimate Collection offers a narrow-frame casement window. According to Marvin, " the narrow jamb for replacement applications minimizes tear-down of existing frames and walls."


Is the Marvin Ultimate better than the Marvin Essential Window Collection?

The comparison between the Marvin Essential Collection and the Marvin Ultimate Collection depends on your specific needs, preferences, and priorities. Both collections are offered by Marvin Windows and Doors, but they cater to different market segments and come with varying features and price points.

Marvin Essential Collection

Value-Oriented: The Essential Collection is designed to offer quality windows and doors at a more budget-friendly price point.
Materials: The Essential Collection often uses extruded aluminum exteriors and wood interiors, providing a balance between cost and performance.
Energy Efficiency: While still energy-efficient, the Essential Collection may not have all the advanced energy-saving features found in the Ultimate Collection.
Design Options: The range of design options, sizes, and configurations might be more limited than the Ultimate Collection.
Aesthetics: While still visually appealing, the Essential Collection might have fewer customization options for finishes and styles than the Ultimate Collection.
Suitability: The Essential Collection can be a good choice for homeowners looking for quality windows and doors without all the high-end features and customization of the Ultimate Collection.


Marvin Ultimate Collection

Premium Performance: The Ultimate Collection focuses on high performance, energy efficiency, and advanced features.
Materials: The Ultimate Collection often includes advanced materials like Ultrex fiberglass, known for its durability, low maintenance, and energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency: The Ultimate Collection might offer more advanced energy-efficient features, such as low-E glass, better insulation, and weather sealing.
Design Options: The Ultimate Collection typically offers a broader range of design options, including custom sizes, shapes, and configurations.
Aesthetics: With the Ultimate Collection, you have more customization regarding finishes, hardware, and design styles.
Suitability: The Ultimate Collection is suited for those who prioritize top-notch performance, advanced technology, and a higher level of customization.


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

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

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

If you want plenty of custom design options for your new window's interior, exterior, and glass, 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 result to look like? 

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

After finding the right replacement window you want, you must 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 replace your home's windows with Marvin windows? 

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

Our lifetime warranty backs your windows 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 discuss your project and help schedule your consultation.