The Practical Benefits of Quality Storm Windows

Storm windows are an often underrated piece of the puzzle of old windows. Many people think they are just the ugly metal coverings filled with bugs on grandmas house. We want you to know all the benefits you will enjoy so you can make an informed decision. This article is an explanation of why opting for quality storms is so important.

Stabilization and time to work on windows at a slower pace.
Although your windows may be rotting as you read this, we don’t have to rush everything. The addition of quality storm windows will stabilize what exists and allow you the luxury of time. Few methods offer the protection of a window more effectively than installing a good storm window. With these fitted, your need to consider costly replacements or time-consuming repair work becomes less urgent.

Storm windows first usually eases requirements on the budget. By staging repair work in batches of window units, there is no need to finance it all at once. Once storm windows are installed, wooden windows can be removed without needing to cover the openings with plywood.

The new storm windows are often tighter than the wooden window sash we pull out for reconditioning. A selection of those windows needing the most help, or posing the most significant safety concern can be made. The project can then be staged over a period preferred by the homeowner. I think there is no greater ‘bang for the buck’. We like storm windows because they protect old wooden windows. They make our window reconditioning work last for generations and extend the paint maintenance cycle substantially. Both antique and modern wooden windows are improved with storm windows.

Aesthetics and Historic Homes
The idea of storm windows is often rejected based on the look of cheap models put onto the market in prior decades. We may recall mill aluminum units with ill-fitting or missing glass and screen panels. Often painters and handymen handling the units were not careful in replacing all mounting screws or even missing parts. Those storm windows were often unappealing, clunky-looking additions, which took away from the original lines of home design. We solve this problem with high quality units with slimmer profiles and matching colors.

We have installed on many older buildings. The options available today allow for a much more pleasing look than mill aluminum. Some models have such a slim profile and blend in with the surrounding trim so well that once installed, you will hardly know they’re there. A friend has said, “People should notice your house, not your storm windows”.

Storm window frames may be generally installed in what is called “inset mount” or, for those determined to retain the look of a wooden storm window, are available in what is known as “flush mount”.

Air infiltration, energy efficiency, and comfort
When cold weather hits, homeowners call us for a house that never gets quite warm enough. Our storm windows add a layer of insulation over window openings and reduce cold air drafts. Most manufacturing methods of aluminum storm windows use small pins that hold the glass and screen panels against the frame. This method did not generally allow easy operation, a tight seal, nor did it hold up well over time. Our most commonly sold residential storm windows do not rely on pins but have a fully pocketed frame and are gasketed on both sides of the moveable panels. This improves both infiltration losses (up to 400%) and achieves a wind protection rating of 95 mph.

Secondly, the U-Value of a wooden window unit is always improved by adding a storm window. U-Values measure the “insulating” efficiency of the unit and happen to be the inverse of what is known as the R-Value. One study (ht) cited the U-Value of a primary single pane wooden window as 1.25 (or R 0.80). When coupled with a storm window with clear glass, this value drops to .50 (or R 2.00). Just that change improves the insulation efficiency of a wooden window by 150%. Add the optional Low E coating to the storm window glass, and the results are even better. It is no wonder that our customers are so pleased with the comfort level achieved after installation is complete.

Paint and glazing longevity
When unprotected, the paint maintenance cycle may be as low as five years for wooden windows with an average paint job. Professional painters have told me that storm windows can extend to over twenty years.

Rot prevention
Storm windows are often the first step in an old window project and generally keep moisture off your
windows so that fungi cannot grow. This will stop ongoing rot and prevent future damage allowing you to take your time in having repairs planned and budgeted.

Shifting the Dew Point and mildew arrest
In addition, storm windows protect the inside surfaces of wooden sash caused by condensate. Think of the dew point as a physical position between coldest to warmest (outside to inside) and having it show itself within a window unit where water vapor condenses (either in droplets or frost). Windows with a single pane of glass will show the dew point on the inside surface of the glass, where warm inside air meets cold temperatures of the outside through the glass in winter. This results in reasonably continuous dripping onto the interior painted surfaces of the sash, enough of which will cause paint failure and the process of rot to begin.

Installing a high-quality storm window shifts the dew point toward the exterior, often inside the pocket of dead air captured by the storm window and away from the wooden window sash. Storm windows keep condensate from forming at undesired locations, so they won’t drip onto the lower surfaces of wooden windows and raise moisture content. This keeps paint tight and fungi from growing. Most rot is the result of natural fungal growth and will only progress when the moisture content is high enough. Keeping the condensate off these surfaces means there’s no way for the growth to continue.

Security and protection from accidents
A commonly overlooked feature of a storm window is the extra layer of protection from damage to your window sash and a deterrent for would-be thieves. Storm windows can be custom built with thicker glass and installed with security screws to make it more challenging to get through from the outside.

Noise reduction
Noise is significantly reduced by the addition of tight-fitting storm windows and can still be further reduced by using laminated glass. We have had success in significantly reducing noise levels along busy Main Street with this material.

Less expensive than the replacement cycle
The replacement cycle is the process of buying new modern windows when the old ones wear out. Some last longer than others, but when the seals start breaking, and the glass starts fogging, there’s no way to fix what’s there, and you’re on the hook to buy again.

Our local utilities would agree with this, as KU and Columbia Gas representatives have told me the windows replacement is generally not beneficial in a long-term cost analysis.

Although never intended to be a permanent part of a building, most storm windows are considered temporary coverings and should be replaced when they are no longer sound or seal out drafts. The only storms we recommend are high in quality and equally effective in their lifespan.

To learn more about the different grades of storms, we recommend seeing our Storm Window Grade Comparison.

Our typical storm window project includes the following items:
– Survey of openings to measure and inspect each window for a custom fit.
– Make repairs to wooden sills and mounting surfaces where necessary and cut loose wooden sash in preparation for removal if necessary.
– Prepare mounting surfaces for a good seal.
– Clean exterior of glass in a wooden sash.
– Install custom-made storm windows at the site.
– Demonstrate operation and removal of storm window panels for cleaning.

For more information on how to start a project like this go to:

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Justin Karsnitz