Considerations for Storm Windows in Historic Homes
If you own a historic home, you are familiar with the extra thought and consideration you must put towards home improvement needs, like window replacement. Often standard options for product replacement are undesirable or not even allowable due to your home’s historic designation.
Advances in storm window product technologies allow you to have the best of both worlds: beautiful historic windows with the energy efficiency and comfort of their modern counterparts. Evaluate these four criteria when choosing your new storm windows.
Most importantly, storm windows allow you to keep your existing windows. They also protect them and ensure your windows can endure for decades more. Storm windows offer protection for:
Wood damage. Although wood has high aesthetic qualities and strength, it does not weather the elements well forever. Water damage starts to appear in the form of cracking, warping, mildew, and rot. Storm windows help seal out water and protect your wood from further damage.
Glass protection. Your windows may have the beautiful ripple effect found in vintage glass panes, or even irreplaceable stained glass and valuable leaded panes. Storm windows can protect these pieces of glass art from breakage.
Most likely, preserving your windows means protecting one of the most unique and appealing features of your home. Look for storm windows that complement the unique beauty of your windows. Your curb appeal will be affected by the materials you choose and the quality and form of the construction.
Some things to keep in mind are:
Material choices. Storm windows are made from wood, aluminum, and vinyl. Wood is generally considered the most attractive, but also requires the most maintenance. Aluminum is durable and lightweight but does not insulate as well as wood. Vinyl frames will offer low maintenance, high insulative value, and a variety of colors.
Quality. Though storm windows are often the lower-budget choice, do not skimp on quality. Invest in windows that match the quality and beauty of your home.
Form. Storm windows can be custom-built for the unique shapes of your windows. Many are designed to mimic historic storm windows, as well.
The function you need from your windows is just as important as their form. The reason most homeowners consider window replacement is the energy efficiency and comfort they afford.
The Preservation Handbook for Historic Residential Properties and Districts in Salt Lake City suggests adding storm windows because the addition of a storm window to an existing historic window can match or exceed energy efficiency.
When choosing your storm windows, look for the following features to boost the insulative qualities even further.
The combination of storm windows with existing historic windows lends the energy efficiency and draft protection you seek. Air itself is a great insulator. The standard three inches of air gap between existing and storm windows outperforms even double-paned replacements.
Low-E Glass Coating
Low-e glass is manufactured with a thin coating that reflects heat but does not affect the amount of light that passes into your home. Along with insulation, this lowers the heat transfer, or U-value, of your window system. The lower the U-value, the lower the heat transfer, and thus the better the insulation. Adding a storm window effectively halves heat transfer from 0.80 to 0.99 to between 0.44 to 0.49. If you add Low-e coating, that U-value drops to .32!
Historic District Specifications
Once you’ve considered these factors, if you live in a designated Historic District, always confirm your district’s guidelines before proceeding with your project. Even if your home is not under such restrictions, preservation guidelines are a great resource for renovation best practices. Determine the storm window option that is best for your historic home. Reach out to the glass professionals at Central Glass Company to learn more about your storm window options and schedule your professional installation.