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Window Replacements

Marvin Ultimate Window vs. Pella Reserve Window: Which is better?

October 14th, 2021 | 14 min. read

Marvin Ultimate Window vs. Pella Reserve Window: Which is better?

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After noticing some general wear and tear on your home’s windows, you start considering replacing all your windows and upgrading them to something more modern. 

You’ve done your research, reading articles and watching videos about how much window replacements cost, different window material types, and all types of window styles. 

Because this is a desire of yours and not a necessity, you know you’re looking for a high-end window with style and intricate design. 

So you learn about two window manufacturers that seem to fit the bill: Marvin and Pella. They both seem to offer the rich and modern looking window you want, but which one is better? 

When comparing two windows, it can be overwhelming to compare the differences and decide which you like best. We’re here to help. 

Southwest Exteriors has been a window replacement contractor in San Antonio since 1989. We offer the highest quality windows from the best manufacturers, one of them being Marvin. 

We want to provide you with an unbiased comparison to one of their biggest competitors, Pella. 

This article will compare the Marvin Ultimate window collection to the Pella Reserve window collection. We will take an honest look at the material, durability, design, energy efficiency, and warranty. 

After reading, you will know more about both window lines and determine which window is a better fit for you. 

About Marvin 

Marvin is a window and door manufacturer that started as a lumber and cedar company in 1912. They are made in Warroad, Minnesota, and have three major window collections: Signature, Elevate, and Essential. 

Marvin’s major values are commitment to design, efficiency, and sustainability. Their style is sleek and contemporary yet classic for an elegant aesthetic.

About Pella 

Pella is a window and door manufacturer founded in 1925 and has led the way in innovation and energy efficiency. They have showrooms all across the country, offering simple and elaborate windows to fit your style. 

Pella has a passion for people, design, detail, and sustainability. They created the first retractable window screen.Pella provides solutions to common functionality issues to provide you with easy operability. 

Marvin vs. Pella: What are the windows made out of? How durable are they?

When considering a replacement window, the material is one of the first qualities to look at. What a window is made out of will determine its durability, longevity, and also affect what the window looks like. 

Window material and durability go hand in hand. You want to know that your new windows will be able to withstand the weather and everyday use. 

Because window replacements are large investments, you want to know they will last.

What are Marvin Ultimate windows made of? 

The Marvin Ultimate Window has a real wood interior with an aluminum-clad exterior. This means you can have that classic and traditional wood window look on the inside of your home without the added maintenance of a wood exterior. With a full wood frame, the window is more susceptible to water infiltration and rotting. 

An aluminum exterior is smooth and sleek. It protects the exterior of your home and window frame better than a wood exterior.

How durable is the Marvin Ultimate window?

The fact that it’s a clad window means a wooden interior with a different exterior. The clad system on this window acts as an extra barrier from the outside to the inside. This helps protect against exterior heat, humidity, and water. 

If you are looking for a window that has a classic wood interior with a protected, durable exterior, then this window may be right for you. 

What are Pella Reserve windows made of? 

Pella Reserve windows are offered in wood and aluminum-clad wood windows. Aluminum-clad windows offer you the look of real wood on the interior with an almost maintenance-free exterior. 

Wooden windows are one of the strongest, long-lasting materials for windows. However, they last only with constant maintenance and can come with various problems

How durable is the Pella Reserve window?

Wood windows have a bad reputation. Although they are incredibly durable, sustainable, and long-lasting, they are threatened by rot. Rot happens when water infiltrates the wood and grow bacteria that break down the wood. This means your wooden windows are susceptible to rotting if not properly sealed and maintained. 

Wood windows require added maintenance to protect them from deterioration and rot. They must be sealed, primed, and painted properly in order for them to last and remain in the best condition. 

Their aluminum-clad windows are extruded. There are two types of aluminum windows: extruded and rolled. Extruded means that the frame around the window sash is thicker, cut to fit that frame, and made out of the same thickness as the main frame. 

Rolled aluminum means the aluminum is rolled or wrapped around the window sash. This aluminum is much thinner and not as durable as extruded aluminum. 

This makes the Pella Reserve aluminum clad window incredibly durable and long-lasting. The wood windows are also engineered to last as long as you live in your home, but will require extra attention to keep them that way. 

Marvin vs. Pella: What can you customize on the window?

After knowing what the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve windows are made of, you want to know what you can customize. 

You want to make a window look the way you want and fit into your home and your style. Now we will outline what you can customize on the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve windows. This way, you can see which window offers the best look for you. 

Window shape options

Marvin Ultimate 

The Marvin Ultimate collection offers 28 different window shapes, from standard single and double-hung windows to elegant casement windows. They also have the option to customize a window to fit any geometric shape you like. 

Pella Reserve

The Pella Reserve window offers eight traditional window shapes for both aluminum-clad and wood windows. They have two additional window shapes for aluminum-clad windows. 

They also have the option to create custom, made-to-order windows to create any geometric shape or custom-fit design you want, making the options endless. 

The verdict

Because both windows offer various shapes and custom options, they are equal competitors in the design field.

Color and finish options

Marvin Ultimate

This collection has 19 standard colors to choose from for the exterior aluminum finishes and an unlimited amount of custom colors you can choose from. 

For the interior wood frame, there are seven different wood options: cherry, black walnut, mixed grain douglas fir, Honduran mahogany, pine, white oak, and vertical grain Douglas fir. 

There are also seven different stain options for the wood: cabernet, clear coat, espresso, hazelnut, honey, leather, and wheat. The wood can also be painted in designer black, primed white, or white, which is a little more of an off-white color than primed white. 


Pella Reserve

For aluminum-clad windows, there are 20 standard exterior colors and 15 interior wood finishes. You can also choose a custom color for your exterior clad finish. 

There are seven wood options for your window: pine, douglas fir, mahogany, white oak, red oak, cherry, and maple. 

A screenshot of the color options for Pella Reserve windows.

The verdict

Both window collections offer several wood types, finishes, and unlimited, customizable color options. 

Hardware options

Marvin Ultimate

There are ten different options for locking mechanisms on your window. Some locks are only options for certain types of windows. 

There are 10 different hardware finishes options that come in chrome, black, bronze, and white options. 

A collage of different window and door hardware locks and handles in different finishes and colors.

Pella Reserve

There are three options for window locks in the Pella Reserve collection: fold-away crank, spoon-style lock, and cam-action lock. 

There are nine finish options for the locks. Two of the nine are only available for the rustic collection fold-away and spoon-style locks. 

A screenshot from a Pella pamphlet that shows their lock types for windows and several different finishes for the window hardware.

The verdict

The Marvin Ultimate collection offers a few more lock and finish options than the Pella Reserve collection. So depending on the lock style you are wanting, Marvin may win this category. 

Divided lites and patterns

The divided lites on a window refer to the style for the grid system. Typically, for divided lites, you can have a raised bevel detail on the grid, a smooth finish, or the grid between the panes of the glass. 

Marvin Ultimate

For this collection, you can choose between a simulated divided lite, where the grids are on the outside of the entire windowpane, with or without spacers between the panes, grilles-between-the-glass, where the grid system is between the panes, or authentic divided lite, which consists of individual glass panes between each grid. 

They have over 42 custom and premade divided lite patterns to choose from as well as the option to customize your divided lites. 

Pella Reserve

This collection offers traditional grilles-between-the-glass, removable grills on the outside of the glass, and simulated divided lites with a putty profile for added contour and shadow. 

For divided lite patterns, they have Prairie, Victorian, New England, Traditional, Cross, and other customizable patterns. 

See more about the Pella Reserve window in this downloadable brochure

The verdict

Both window collections offer customizable grille patterns as well as premade pattern options. 

Which window has better design options?

Overall, both the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve window collections offer almost unlimited customizable options in shape, color, hardware, and divided lite patterns. This makes them equal competitors when looking at the designability of each window. 

If you’re looking for intricate custom design no matter the cost, then either of these window collections is a viable option for you.

Marvin vs. Pella: Which window is more energy efficient?

Windows protect a large portion of your home. They keep air from moving in and out, water from leaking inside, and excess sun heat from warming up your home. 

While the look and feel of a window may be the first thing you focus on, it is crucial to look at the energy efficiency of the window. 

The glass and frame are two major components that determine energy efficiency. The frame material helps with insulating your home and the window. The glass of the window allows sun heat, UV rays, and infrared rays through the window. 

When determining energy efficiency, you can measure the U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient, infrared percentage, and UV percentage. 

U-factor measures how well a window can insulate and how much heat comes through the window. Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) measures the amount of solar heat that transfers through a window. UV and infrared percentage measures the percentage of UV rays and infrared rays penetrate through the window. 

Marvin Ultimate

Marvin offers multi-pane options for windows and various Low-E coatings to meet maximum energy efficiency. Low-E stands for low emissivity, and most window manufacturers use Low-E glass. 

Their coatings consist of Low-E1, Low-E2, Low-E3, and Low-ERS. The coatings go up from single, double, and triple glass coatings to provide increasing levels of protection and lower U-factors and SHGC. 

The Marvin Ultimate window has energy ratings of 4% UV percentage, 0% infrared percentage, U-factor between 0.17-0.20, and 0.22 SHGC meeting ENERGY STAR ratings.

Pella Reserve

Pella also offers numerous coating additives to windows to maximize their energy efficiency. These include clear, advanced Low-E, SunDefense Low-E, and tinted coatings in bronze, green, and gray for added protection. 

They offer this wide variety of coatings to meet ENERGY STAR criteria. Energy ratings range from 0.28-0.47 U-factor, 0.18-0.50 SHGC, and 0.09-0.55 visible light transmittance. 

Visible light transmittance (VLT) measures the amount of visible light in the spectrum that passes through the glass. Tinted coatings have a much lower VLT than other coatings. 

The verdict

Both the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve meet ENERGY STAR criteria and offer numerous additives for panes and coating options to increase the efficiency of your window, making it difficult to rank one above the other. 

Marvin vs. Pella: Do they have good warranties? 

Warranty is one of the key ingredients to the value of your new windows. You want to know that if something goes wrong or breaks, your window will have coverage. 

Knowing the warranty length, inclusions, and exclusions will tell you whether or not the warranty makes the window worth it or not. 

Marvin Ultimate warranty

Marvin offers a fully transferable lifetime warranty. The coverage begins on the date of installation. 

All components include coverage against manufacturing defects. This means that any problems that arise because the product was not manufactured properly are covered under warranty. 

Damage to non-glass components, like hardware, is covered for ten years. 

Under this warranty, Marvin will repair or replace the product or component of the window or provide a refund. The route that is taken to resolve the issue is up to Marvin. Removal, installation, finishing, refinishing, and disposal costs and services are not included. 

Wood interior coverage

Marvin factory-applied interior wood finishes are warranted against finish defects for five years. Finish defects include cracking, peeling, delamination, blistering, flaking, excessive chalking, and checking. Checking is when the wood starts to separate or split lengthwise.

Fading or changing of paint color is also covered for five years under normal interior environmental conditions. Factor-applied primer is not covered under warranty. 

The appearance of raised grain in the wood is not considered a defect. 

Aluminum exterior coverage

Manufacturing defects on exterior aluminum cladding finish are covered for 20 years. Defects include chalking, fading, and peeling. 


Exclusions in a warranty mean if any defects or issues happen from any of the following causes, the warranty is void. Exclusions are improper installation, lack of maintenance, Acts of God, improper moisture management, thermal energy deficiency, condensation, and corrosion. 

Pella Reserve warranty

Pella offers a limited lifetime warranty on the window frame for as long as the original homeowner/purchaser lives in their home. This warranty is not transferable, however, some aspects of the window are transferable for a period of time. Non-laminated glass is covered for a lifetime.

The warranty for the frame covers wood deterioration and exterior aluminum clad paint cracking or peeling in noncoastal areas. This also includes 2-year labor coverage.

For windows installed in commercial buildings, the frame warranty is limited to 10 years and 20 years for non-laminated glass. 

Hardware, laminated glass, screens, blinds, and shades are covered for 10 years against damage that significantly impacts the operation and function of the window. 

Interior finishes are covered for two years against cracking, peeling, chalking, and fading. 


This warranty does not include product damage resulting from normal wear, damaging chemicals, Acts of God, finishes not applied or approved by Pella, repairs not performed by Pella, and wood finishes not properly sealed, to name a few. 

Other exclusions include minor imperfections and variations in glass tints, wood grain, or finish color. 

The biggest exclusion that voids the warranty is if the window is not installed properly according to Pella’s instructions. 

It is important to read the fine print of any warranty as there are many small exclusions you may not consider. 

The verdict

Overall, both the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve windows offer comparable warranties. Both warranties have inclusions and exclusions, but the biggest difference between the two is that the Marvin warranty is transferable.

If you are a long-term homeowner looking for a window with architectural design but know you will not be there forever, then the Marvin Ultimate may be the better choice for you. 

However, this may not be important to you at all. In that case, both warranties offer lifetime coverage with numerous, typical exclusions and bounds. 

Marvin vs. Pella: Which window is right for you? 

Choosing the right replacement window for your project all depends on your goals, wants, and needs for your project. 

What do you want the window to look like? How important are durability and longevity to you? Do you want the window to protect against sun heat? 

Both the Marvin Ultimate and Pella Reserve windows stack up head to head in their design capabilities, durability, efficiency, and warranties. Both windows also offer architectural design approved for historical building restorations. It can be hard to decipher between the two. 

If you’re looking for a durable, all-wood or aluminum-clad window with nearly limitless design options, then the Pella Reserve might be the best for you. This collection offers a historical, traditional look with their wood windows but a contemporary look with their aluminum-clad windows.

If you’re looking for a modern and sleek aluminum-clad window with endless color options, then the Marvin Ultimate might be the right window for you. This collection does not have an all-wood window, differing from the Pella Reserve collection. 

Each window offers their own unique style and finish but compare equally in efficiency and durability. Depending on the contractor you work with, you will have to find one that offers the window you want. 

At Southwest Exteriors, we offer what we believe to be the best window products for you, including windows from Marvin. While we want to be the right contractor for everyone, we know we simply cannot be. 

Above all, we want you to be educated on all your options so that you can make the best decision for yourself, whether that includes us or not. 

After learning about your different window options and finding out which is right for you, you’re going to have to find the right contractor. Check out this video about six things to consider when selecting a window replacement contractor.