The benefits of new windows, doors

Homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework before choosing someone to supply those new windows and doors and then install them, especially during these unusual times.

"You want to choose a company that makes sure your improvement project is completed to expectation, from the point of choosing the most suitable items with the help of knowledgeable reps, to the installation," said Iver Johnson Sr., owner of American Thermal Window of Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors of Mount Prospect.

"But you also want a locally owned company that is sensitive to your concerns about your family's health and welfare during this pandemic. We only use our own very experienced installation crews who wear masks, gloves and shoe covers and practice social distancing. In addition, almost all of our manufacturers offer lifetime warranties.

"At American Thermal and Sahara, we all understand what it is to own a home, so we are easily able to relate to our customers," he added. "We strive to make sure our customers receive a positive experience from beginning to end, from their initial phone call to their interaction with the sales rep and the showroom staff, to their experience with the installation crews. We want nothing but positive experiences!"

Johnson is a former Chicago police officer who has provided windows and doors to Chicago-area homeowners for 38 years. Both stores have retained their individual names, but the two showrooms function as the same company with identical offerings and crews that skillfully install a variety of products in single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and commercial properties. Johnson's companies put high emphasis on both security and the aesthetics of their products.

Many people liken the front door and accompanying side panels of a home to its face, he said. It gives both visitors and passersby their first impression of the home and gives one a glimpse of the homeowner's personality.

Windows also act as "ambassadors to your home and family." Eye-catching bay, picture and other specialty windows add personality to a home while also keeping the interior of the home comfortable.

They keep heated or cooled air inside where it is supposed to be, improve a home's indoor air quality and save the owner money in the long run, Johnson said.

His companies carry a variety of attractive vinyl, aluminum and custom wood-clad windows and doors, manufactured by national companies.

"Window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products. Today's windows, which are generally available in wood, vinyl and aluminum, have much higher energy ratings than those being replaced, of course, so they save on heating and cooling costs," Johnson said.

In addition to selling windows, American Thermal and Sahara offer 58 door styles with 36 standard paint and stain combinations and more than 200 custom glass options. Custom colors are also possible.

Fiberglass is a common choice for outside doors because it is very durable, Johnson said, but his two companies also offer nationally recognized Simpson Doors that are made of solid oak, birch, cherry, poplar and other woods, produced in America. Doors that must be fire-rated, however, like those between a garage and a home, must be metal and the showrooms also sell those.

Johnson's two companies also offer and install custom patio doors. Custom cuts, designer glass and designer grids are readily available. Steel security storm doors are also part of the inventory for unbeatable protection, as are garden windows for growing plants, windows with blinds between the panes and fashionable doors with decorative glass options.

Johnson's companies also have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because representatives are willing to attend association meetings at no charge. They also offer a wide variety of fire-rated windows and doors for mid- to high-rise residential buildings and commercial properties.

Delivery from American Thermal and Sahara takes three to six weeks, depending on the order's complexity. Johnson's crews work year-round "because we are capable of doing all of the windows in an average house in a day without causing undue temperature fluctuations."

All installation crews are employed directly by American Thermal and Sahara and they are highly trained and held to exacting standards. They always arrive in company trucks and the average installer has a minimum of 13 years of experience, Johnson said.

Probably because of his law enforcement background, Johnson is particularly concerned about window and doors companies without showrooms. They don't allow customers to see products, but instead simply send representatives to homes with small samples and photos.

"These companies typically discourage customers from visiting showrooms because they want to visit the customer's home and use high-pressure sales tactics," Johnson said. "They spend two to four hours in the home, bombarding the prospective customer with false discounts and highly insulting and fake promises. And the customer doesn't have the option of walking away. So, we highly discourage customers from dealing with companies that don't have a showroom and instead choose to corner customers in their homes."

Consequently, Johnson urges potential customers to make sure any company they contract with has a long track record and high standing on rating services like Google, Angie's List and Yelp.

"You can't purchase those ratings. They must be earned. We have been awarded with the Angie's List's Super Service Award for several years in a row and have an exceptional rating on Yelp. Those ratings reflect the way our customers feel about us. We also have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau," Johnson said.

The American Thermal Window showroom is at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors is at 150 S. Main St. in Mount Prospect. Both are currently seeking outside sales staff for home visits.

"We encourage people to come into one of our showrooms and see our displays," he said. "We are locally owned and there is always someone to serve you."

For more information, visit or or call (847) 259-9099 or (773) 774-3131.

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