Storm windows – types, materials, advantages and disadvantages
Storm windows are installed on existing windows and you can choose from exterior or interior options, depending on your individual needs and preferences. There are different types to choose from, different materials but people who live in areas affected by bad weather, hurricanes or storms will greatly benefit from this option.
What are the advantages of storm windows and the benefits they offer?
Many people wonder whether to install storm windows. Actually, this is a cost effective way to increase the energy efficiency of your home, which is one of the major benefits for the home owners. Further to that, this is an additional insulation and a good way to maintain the temperature inside the home as the windows prevent infiltration of air from the outside and the home will remain cooler in hot weather and warmer in winter.
The exterior appearance of the home can benefit from installing storm windows. They are offered in several color options which allow you to choose one that will work in harmony with the existing exterior of the house. This is of importance for those who live in historic buildings and want to preserve and enhance the charm and character of the building as the additional sash fits in the existing window and is practically invisible. In this way you keep the good impression, the style of the exterior and the uniqueness of architectural elements.
Installing storm windows adds to the noise insulation of the home as well and you will be protected from street noises or loud neighbors. As an additional benefit, your window seat will be much more comfortable or if you plan a reading corner – you will have a good source of natural light without being worried from drafts.
An additional protection for the existing windows is another benefit as storm windows serve as an additional protective layer and prevent damage form dust, sun exposure, wind, rain and other elements. This means that you will reduce the maintenance work and will not have to treat wooden frames, for example, as often.
The easy installation is another great advantage. It is a good DIY project which may be completed in an afternoon, depending on the number of windows, of course. Typically, the installation process does not require any special tools or carpentry skills.
Storm window types and basic configurations
The market offers three basic types of storm windows – two-track, triple-track, two-track slider. Basement modifications are also available.
Two-track (double track) is a popular style and the configuration has two panes – of a pane of glass and a screen. The inside track can be raised to allow fresh air but, generally, this type is as flexible as triple track windows. Two-track slider option is the same like standard two track storm windows. The only difference is that they open horizontally instead of vertically. This is a suitable option for sliding windows.
Triple track configuration is designed that two windowpanes and half-screen rest in separate individual tracks and each one can be moved independently. This option is more flexible and allows easier cleaning. Both two-track and triple track configurations are suitable for double-hung windows. It is advisable to choose designs with removable glass and screens as this will make cleaning and maintenance significantly easier. Some models are offered with pre-drilled holes and if you plan a DIY installation, this will be of great help. Weatherstripping and stabilizer bar add to the quality performance and reduce air infiltration adding strength to the windows.
Basement storm windows typically have one pane which is help in place by thumb latches. When you consider this option you need to keep in mind how an additional layer may affect egress, as basement windows are often used as emergency exits.
Storm windows – choosing the material
Storm windows are manufactured to fit to most types of windows. The type of material determines the price and you can choose from aluminum, vinyl and wood. Every material has its advantages and disadvantages and we shall see what they are.
Aluminum is very durable and lightweight, which are the major advantages of the material compared to the alternative options. It is easy to maintain and is resistant to rust, elements and due to its strength is has an extremely high resistance to wear and tear. However, aluminum has very poor insulating properties and conducts heat and cold very quickly.
Wood is a good option which adds to the value of the home and has very good insulating properties. However, they require a lot of maintenance. Wood expands and contracts and is damaged by moisture and prolonged exposure to sunlight. In addition, it is heavyweight which makes installation and seasonal removal more difficult. The market offers aluminum- or vinyl-clad wood frames which require less maintenance and prolongs their lifespan.
Vinyl frames are typically made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and offer the advantage of being lightweight. You can find them in a variety of colors to match your exterior. Despite that vinyl is a material that does not require much maintenance, you need to keep in mind that exposure to heat and sunshine may cause warping and color fading while extreme cold may lead to cracking and splitting.
When choosing your storm windows, it is better to opt for Low-emissive (Low-E) glass which will give you better energy efficiency. This glass has a special invisible coating – metal or metallic oxide – and the surface reflects heat but allows light inside the home. Remember that quality matters and spending money on poor quality means that you are wasting money.