Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Can Kiss My Butt

One of the perks in having my blog is knowing that when people are looking something up on the internet, there’s the ever slightest chance they could end up here. My stats show that the majority of people who end up at this blog are looking for info on Maggie Gyllenhaal’s tattoo from the movie Stranger Than Fiction. The second largest number of hits come from people looking for homemade diaper wipes.

I believe I’ve found my niche! Now to combine them into something fabulous…

So that’s why I’m going to voice my complaint with Kolbe Windows and Doors (Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork) because if I can save one soul from wasting their hard-earned money buying windows from this company, I will feel the slightest bit vindicated. I’d feel much better if Kolbe & Kolbe would replace all my windows with another company’s quality windows, specifically double-hung windows.

Our contractor convinced us that nothing else would compare to Kolbe & Kolbe. Not Anderson, Pella or Marvin windows. Silly us since who has ever heard of Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork? Not me! Have you?

Right away, we noticed the windows from Kolbe & Kolbe leaked dust. Wait, not just dust: Sand. I thought it was because we didn’t have a yard. Well, we have a nice green yard and the sand still pours in. The seals and gaskets on Kolbe & Kolbe’s windows were ineffective against the winds of the plains. Ironic since that’s where the company is based, in good old Wisconsin. For all you that get technical about where the plains are and aren’t (you know who you are), Wisconsin’s weather can’t be that much different from Nebraska’s.

Not only do they leak dust, sand, grit, dirt, debris; Kolbe & Kolbe windows whistle! Whistle is too kind of a description. The air HOWLS through the windows, scaring the bejeebus out of any person who may be asleep in the room, usually our son who gets a wonderful southerly wind that angles through the seams JUST right. I’m listening to it now, in fact!

We’ve complained formally. They sent out a Kolbe & Kolbe guy who replaced all the gaskets with larger diameter gaskets. They still leak and howl and scream. I’ve tried stuffing dimes, pennies and even nickels in the frame to “tighten” up the fancy Kolbe & Kolbe windows. Didn’t work. So I bought insulating felt and stuffed it in the windows. That hasn’t worked either.

Kolbe & Kolbe? You suck. Wait, no. Unless the wind is blowing and then there’s some weird joke in there somewhere. Thanks for bringing in a little bit of that old prairie life literally through my windows. It’s so attractive seeing it accumulating on the corners of every window. And that fine, high-pitched squeal that sounds like a bag-pipe being thrown on a bonfire? Ah, who needs peace and quiet when my daughter is napping in the afternoon or 3:15 a.m. when my son should be sleeping in his room but instead is waking me up to tell me he’s scared of the wind? Thank YOU, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork!

26 thoughts on “Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Can Kiss My Butt”

  1. I am currently employed at Kolbe and Kolbe, in their door shop. While I cannot speak to the horrible quality of the windows you’ve had installed, I can speak about the poor way the company treats their employees. Morale is in a sub-basement due to poor, non-competitive wages, inept management, and non-existant job training. Many of the workers here have the attitude of, “screw it, it’s good enough, not going in MY home” when assembling the parts and final product. One of the most common phrases heard from management is, “don’t worry about it, the customer will never see it” when a cracked sill or jamb is discovered during the building process. I tell everyone I talk to to NEVER buy our product. It’s poorly designed, built and shipped. We have a “meeting” once every two weeks where we’re screamed at for “excessive use of silicone”. Not a good company. You’ll pay twice as much for an inferior product, stay away!

  2. I stumbled upon this blog as I’m doing research to replace two Kolbe & Kolbe patio doors, and eight of their casement windows in our sunroom that was built in 1989. It is unfortunate that I have to be another one of their displeased customers that resides in Wisconsin. In the beginning, it was routine for me to have at least one replacement casement window on hand, as the thermopanes failed on a regular basis. At the time, there was a ten year warranty on the product, so I made sure to contact our local building supply company that carried their product. The building supplier was always great to work with, as I also had to order replacement crank mechanisms multiple times as the worm screws or arms would fail. The patio doors are another story! Of course glass slowly became fogged over as the thermopanes failed. We blame the product and the installers. This time around, more research will be done, and I won’t be a return customer, nor would I ever recommend the product. I’m all for supporting my local businesses, but only when they are worthy of the support.

    1. Kolby windows leak in their construction. The double hungs are real bad, seals won’t tolerate any wind pressure,also they revert back to the industry so called standard, that is the humidity is too high in your house, they suggest less than 18% in cold weather, ask your nose and throat doctor about this: causes lots of sickness. Kolby suggests opening windows in clod weather, so where is ANY energy savings??? For good windows deal with smaller companies, they cannot afford to have complaints or poor products, Kolbys are JUNK, and the territory service rep . is as two faced as they come. Run, Run like hell from this company.

  3. Installed Kolbe single hung and large fixed windows, the single hung DO NOT have a good seal system, response from co. was really poor, experience ice on inside, follows air flow infiltration. Kolbe will always blame the installer, and house humidity, BTW they DO NOT warrant windows if replacements into existing frames, wish I would have known that.. windows are not made well, apparently they have a lot of complaints, check contractor posts, running 30% humidity, even their web site says “open your home to let in dry air” -4 f, and 81% humidity??????? If you do not have thermal cold or draft, you will NOT have frost or ice, simple as that. Kolbe windows: RUN and RUN FAR…..

    1. It is Jan 9th, and we just got over one of the worst cold snaps in Wisconsin, btw, Kolbe & Kolbe factory is about 90 miles away. Anway, we are in the process of replacing our junk K&K casements with Wasco triple pain windows. Major thing I noticed on the one or two remaining K&K windows. Super tons of ice on the inside of window, thickist is about 3/4 inch. The entire bottom of window is caked in ice. On the Wasco windows, no ice at all, a small amount of moisture, about 1″ up from bottom of glass. Outside temp. -23F., Humidity inside is 40%, according to 2 seperate gauges, Temp is 67 F. BTW this K&K window is now like the others we replaced, and that is that it is rotting from the bottom. It will be replaced this spring. We have replaced 7 K&K windows so far. Four of the seven, were so rotton on the bottom that, when we tried to open them, the cranks pulled out of the wood. All of these windows were installed new, on our home that was built new. Like everyone else said, K&K, blamed us for having too much humidity in the home, and the contractor for installing them wrong.
      Before settling on Wasco, I looked at about 7 different types of window makers. One thing they all had in common, was that they all heard how terrible K&K windows were.

  4. Hey, thanks for the headzup on this product. A nearby home (under renovation) has had these windows installed and the labels are still attached. We are also building a home and our contractor suggested a locally owned company that makes a similar product. And might I say, the wyoming winds howl here so I hope the new homeowners have earplugs.

    1. I have kolbe windows, they do not stand behind their windows. We build this house in Rumson, N.J. They told us they were the best..they were the best shit windows out there.. They are falling apart, kolbe said I had to pay them 100.00 for a rep to come see them.. Then they said ” there was nothing they could do”. I strongly recommend not to buy these windows.

      1. Hi Joan. Please contact me if you are willing to speak to me regarding Kolbe’s response to your complaints. I am investigating a client’s claim for defective Kolbe windows.

      2. Hi Joan – I wanted to ask you about your experience dealing with Kolbe regarding their faulty windows. I’m an attorney in New Jersey and I’m currently compiling information on their activities. How was your experience dealing with them? Were you able to recover your money?

        I can be reached at toby@tobymcohen.com.


  5. Just a note on what MT said. Most homeowners are not aware when it comes to a DP (design pressure) rating on a windows. The higher the rating, the better the window…………kind of. For example, a DP50 rated window will withstand higher wind (structural) loads and water than a DP30 window. But, for all windows, an air infiltration rate of .3 cubic feet per minute per square foot of frame area is allowed. Usually, the higher rated the window is, the lower the air infiltration rate is..but doesn’t have to be.
    Casements are a tighter windows…….period. A typical casement window will leak about 3-4 times less air than a double hung.
    Most major manufaturers test/certify to AAMA/ASTM standards
    * AAMA – American Architectural Manufactuers Association
    * ASTM – American Society for Testing and Materials
    Most major manufacturers have an independant lab certify their product (such as Architectural Testing) to AAMA/ASTM standards.
    An air test can be performed on site very easily, but most manufacturers will not pay for this test (can be $1,000 and up) and believe me, most windows will pass the .3 CFM that is allowed. .3 is a lot of air !!!
    Opening force of the window:
    This also can be tested. I believe that it should not exceed 30 lbs. of force per ASTM E2608-00 spec.
    Remember…….even if testing does prove an issue, most warranties that are written cover replacement product only, no labor.
    Hope this helps.

  6. The installation is key for all Double hung windows. I noticed this topic wasn’t touched on / or confirmed and should be the first step to repairing your product. Double hung units that utilize a wood jamb liner must be plum and square. If you confirm the install is good; than you have a case against the manufacturer. Putting the installation issue at the feet of the manufacturer will not resolve the problem, you must have confirmation the windows were installed correctly. My recommendation for anyone that lives in high wind regions is to use casement windows. Casement windows are typically DP 50 or better, most DH units are DP 30-35. Confirm your install by using an independent service tech….then you can proceed against the contractor or the manufacturer. in most cases both will fix the issue before litigation. Good luck.

    1. Kolbe & Kolbe did eventually send a rep to investigate our complaint and they conceded that since the date of installment they had made “improvements” to the double-hung windows and their seals. The rep then returned and for two days removed and installed new gaskets to each of the windows in the house. During this time, he gave kudos to our builder for installing them within a hair’s breadth to manufacturer’s standards and absolutely square. No fault could be found in the original installment process.

      The replacement of the gaskets has helped in that this spring there were no whistling, screeching windows. Unfortunately, the windows now take the power of a body-builder to open and close (I nearly gave myself a hernia trying to open one!).

      As to when casement windows over double-hung windows should be installed, i.e. windy zones, I would like to see that logic. If a casement window is opened and the wind begins to blow, there’s simply an arm trying to brace itself. We had casement windows in the house we moved from. They were disappointing on that aspect. Also, once a casement window is open, so must the blinds be in order to keep them from whipping around. With double-hung windows, instead of a simple arm (or two) keeping it open against the wind, three full sides of the frame do. That window is going no where and really, there’s no excuse for there to be air leaking – in or out – of any window that costs as much as these did. As for window treatment, I can crack the window for air movement and adjust my blinds to keep out light and provide privacy without fear of them banging against the frames.

      Thank you for taking the time to add your comment. We are happy to report that no litigation was necessary, nor did we even have to get to the point of threatening it.

  7. Rick
    When I built my house the builder said kolbe was almost as good as marvin,but if I wanted to up grade to marvin it would be another $2000.00 my wife talked me out of the upgrade WHAT A MISTAKE I have replaced 6 casment crank assemblies, the reasion i’m here is I have to get 2 more and a new window because it roted out at the bottom. If someone sugest kolbe run don’t walk run away from the nothead.

  8. Got to agree with the Kolbe & Kolbe windows and factory sucking big time. These are JUNK windows that the manufacter does not stand by. I had aluminum clad wood windows installed in my new home. Within 3 years they started to rot on the bottoms. I called Kolbe & Kolbe since there was a warranty, and they said that it was my fault because I kept my house at too high of a humidity. Between 35 and 40% humidity in the home is too high? Then the factory rep, actually cut the seals around the window. He said it was so the window could breathe. They are as dumb as a box of rocks. So now I lost my seals around the window from the outside. The windows rotted out within a year. But it is a junk window to begin with. Soft wood clad with aluminum on the outside. No seal between the glass and the aluminum so the water on the outside just weeps into the wood, and rots it. Once it gets wet, the aluminum keeps it from drying out, so it just rots fast. We are in the process of getting all new windows now. Half of my Kolbe & Kolbe windows are rotting out. Stay away from them. Oh btw, when we called Kolbe back after the seal were cut and we could see them getting wet and rotting faster, they said there was nothing more they could do. I told them ok, and that I was going to put a post up on the Union bulletin board at work warning not to buy Kolbe windows. they then threatened to a lawsuit against me. I told them go ahead, I got pics and experts linged up to say how bad these windows are. Never heard back from them.
    Final word….. these windows are cheap junk and that is being nice. Another thing, we lost the seals on the glass also, so that is another reason they are junk. Even my contractor told them of issues and they ignored him so he switched to another brand to install in the homes he builds.

    1. Jerry, it took months for a rep to finally take a look at our windows. They said the gaskets/seals were not sufficient enough and since their installation in 2006 they supposedly have “improved” the windows. The rep came back and spent two whole days taking off and replacing the rubber/brush gasket on every window in the house.

      Two notable problems with this: some windows were SO tight at that point, he had to add extra screws (galvanized, so he said) to the window frames to pull them OUT just to get the windows closed again. We were told to leave the windows closed for a few weeks so the frames could “stretch” to accomadate the extra width.

      The resulting problem now is the windows take almost super-human and nearly hernia-inducing strength to slide open now. Some of them I still can’t open but have to have my husband muscle them. It’s ridiculous!

      The other problem is once I do get them closed again, they bowing from the pressure causes them to not line up and I can’t get the lock to catch.

      Too bad the terrible hail storm we had a couple weeks ago didn’t ruin them all. But hey, they don’t whistle anymore! Woo-hoo.

  9. Sorry to hear about your bad experience with the Kolbe & Kolbe windows, but I have to agree with Shanna. I believe your installer is at fault with the windows leaks. We have 32, yes 32 Kolbe & kolbe windows in our house. I installed them in 1987 when we built the house and we love them! No wind, dust or dirt leaks, and easy to maintain. I would reccommend them to anyone.

    1. Thanks, Mike, for your input.

      Do you have crank windows or double-hung windows installed? The problem is with the double-hung windowns on our house (32 JUST in double-hung – not including a few cranks or “picture” windows).

      Coincidently enough, after submitting a complaint to Kolbe’s website, I was contacted shortly after this post and FINALLY today a rep is coming by (3 months later) to look at our windows and to possibly replace all of the seams. I would like to believe this will fix the issue, but they did this a year after we moved in and we still have problems. I guess time will tell since Spring is when we notice the problem due to the wind direction.

  10. That sucks. or should I say blows? HA! Sorry that the “Great Plain State” Wisconsin has failed you. Personally I don’t think we are part of the plains region. I put some Kolbe and Kolbe replacement windows in my house up north and they were fine. I wonder if maybe your installer didn’t know what he was doing? Did they insulate around the windows? I know that one of the windows that we have yet to replace at our current house has no insulation around it under the trim and when the wind blows just right we get that lovely bagpipe song as well. You might want to pop the trim and see if they ever stuffed insulation in there. Just my handyman advice for the day. 😉 Good luck. Maybe getting some bad blog press will make them do something for you.

  11. Ok, no Kolbe & Kolbe windows for me! But, I think the contractor deserves some bad juju thrown their way too. After all, would you have gone with Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork if he/she hadn’t recommended them to you? Maybe they got some kind of kickback from Kolbe & Kolbe?

    (See how I seamlessly worked their name 3 more times for this post? Don’t ever say I don’t love you and you can thank me later.)

  12. OHOHOH…did you read the bible verse at the bottom of their page? He gave his only son to pneumonia caused by the wind coming in from the leaking windows.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that yesterday. If I had seen that when we were researching them, I would have said no way. Nothing like alienating a good percentage of your customer base, Kolbe & Kolbe.

  13. What was the name of the company again?

    I could copy/paste this same post and insert Weathershield Windows. They may be a better company now, no idea, but we were told they were MUCH better than all the others. Bullshit.

You can say it here.

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