A Carpenter’s Journal

October 5, 2010

Anderson A Series

Filed under: Architecture,Windows and Doors — Fran Maloney @ 7:15 am

Andersen has a new line of windows and patio doors they are calling the A series.  Cape Cod Lumber has two small samples on display at their Abington showroom.  Andersen windows always had a drawback in that they were vinyl clad and therefore not easily painted.  There were only a few colors that the windows could be ordered in, white, sandtone and terratone.  The A series overcomes this problem by providing a full range of colors that can be selected.  They are not vinyl clad but seem to be a hard fiberglass or pvc. 

We just recently installed 4 new A series doors that were ordered in the “canvas” color and with the inside already finished with a Zar stain chosen to match the other woodwork in the house.  They are attractive and well made doors.  It is quite an advantage to not have to paint a door or a window and yet it still have it match the color of the house.

August 8, 2010

16 Foot Slider

Filed under: Job Progress,Windows and Doors — Tags: — Fran Maloney @ 7:29 am

On Thursday we installed this sixteen foot Anderson double sliding glass door in the 18 foot wall facing out into the screen porch.  We had to remove two 8 foot sliders that were there, support the roof and install a triple 12 inch lvl beam.  The new door came dissassembled as it would be nearly impossible to transport and manuever it into place other wise.  The assembly of the frame is pretty straightforward.  The critical issue is the base the door will sit on which has to be level and straight for almost sixteen feet and the opening has to be square.  After the frame is assembled and installed, the weatherstripping is attached to the panels and they are installed in the opening, fixed panels first followed by the rolling panels.  The directions are clearly laid out by Anderson and they are not complicated or confusing.  The only issue we had was that one of the rolling panels does not snap fully into the weatherstripping and stay put.  It slides back out opening the door slightly unless the latch is engaged.  We will have to take the panels out and try to adjust the weatherstripping to get it to work right.

April 17, 2010

Choosing the Right Window

Filed under: Architecture,Materials,Windows and Doors — Tags: , , , — Fran Maloney @ 5:26 pm

The basic window types are double hung with two sash that move vertically on tracks in the window frame, rolling windows which move horizontally on tracks and casement and awning windows that are hinged and crank out to open.  In New England, double hung windows are by far the most popular.  They are not only traditional in appearance but more practical, the sash is not hung outside in the weather as with casements and there is no crank handle protruding into the blinds or curtains. 

Traditional single pane window sash are divided into smaller lites by muntin bars.  Muntin bars are the wooden mounting bars for glass panes.  In modern double pane insulated glass there is no need or practicality to have muntin bars that break the sash up into smaller pieces but they have been replaced with what are now called grilles, which are visual recreations of muntin bars.  Grilles perform at least two functions.  First they allow modern windows to have the same look as traditional windows, they allow for continuity of style, secondly they change the feel of the interior of the house by providing some sense of enclosure or separation from the outside.  They also can be pretty in the way they break up the light coming into a room and in the detail and color they can add to the appearence of the windows.

There are several options for grilles that are available when someone is ordering windows.  The main choices are : removable grilles, grilles between the glass and simulated divided lite.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these.  Removable grilles have improved greatly since they first came out. 
They now have detailed dimensionality on both sides.  The early ones were flat on the surface up against the glass and this flatness really stood out as fake when viewed from the outside.   Grilles between the glass suffer from the same disadvantage as removable grilles;  they have a flat appearance on both sides of the window.  But there is nothing to paint and the glass is easier to clean.  Simulated divided lites have traditional profiles of muntin bars glued to the surfaces of both sides of the window and often, to complete the look, they have a grille between the glass as well that gives the appearance of a traditional window.  These do the job of reproducing the appearance the best but they are by far the most expensive, they can add several hundred dollars to the cost of each window.

When matching windows in an addition or remodel, it is best practice to carry the window pane size from the original house.  If the existing windows are 12 over 12 with 6 by 8 inch panes, the windows in the addition should also have 6 by 8 panes.

April 10, 2010

Architectural Considerations

Filed under: Architecture,Windows and Doors — Tags: , — Fran Maloney @ 12:36 pm

Windows affect the interior environment and the exterior appearance of a house.  Most people are aware that a good view deserves a big window and that windows on the south let in bright warm light while windows on the north let in a more diffuse light.  Dark rooms can be depressing.  Often you will find the garage or the closets or some other shading element of the house on the south side making the entire house dreary.  Light and warmth and a visual connection with the outside are the number one consideration in choosing and placing windows.  

But, having said that, windows are perhaps the second major element affecting the appearance of a building after the actual shape and size of the building itself.  The elements to consider when planning a new home or an addition or even the addition of just one window are the placement pattern, the style, the size and the amount of detail in each window.  Nothing looks worse than windows scattered hodgepodge across a building with no rhyme or reason to their placement.  

The traditional order is for windows to line up vertically between stories and to be arranged symmetrically.  But deviations from these simple rules of order are common and usually interesting to see. 

March 10, 2010

New Construction Windows

Filed under: Windows and Doors — Tags: , , — Fran Maloney @ 3:35 pm

New construction windows differ from replacement windows in that they are not installed within the frame of an existing window.  They are complete weatherproof units which have a flange or casing attached to the frame on the exterior side.   Building paper or waterproof membrane is applied to the sides of the rough opening and the window is installed square, level and centered in the opening.  They are fastened with nails or screws through the casing or the flange. 

You can still get the older style windows with an exterior sill and casing applied at the factory but most newer aluminum or vinyl clad windows do not come with casing or sill.  It is possible to bring your siding right up to the frame of a clad window which leaves a thin but weathertight edge visible around the sash, but, when the traditional look is desired, casing and sill have to be applied in the field as a decorative addition.  We usually use a vinyl “historic” sill attached underneath and then whatever exterior casing we are trying to match on the top and sides.  This new casing must be flashed on the top like on any other window.  Inside, we usually spray expanding foam in the space between the framing and the window to stop any drafts and then trim the inside to match the rest of the house.

Replacement windows are sized by the sash opening but new construction windows are sized in part by the rough opening and in part by the visible glass dimensions.  Most window companies make their new windows to fit pretty closely into the traditional rough openings.

March 4, 2010


Filed under: Materials,Windows and Doors — Tags: , , , — Fran Maloney @ 8:19 am

The National Fenestration Rating Council provides a standardized means for buyers to compare windows and for building officials to regulate insulation values.    A new window with insulated glass will have a sticker attached to the glass which has the energy ratings for that window.   Two of the most important numbers to know when buying a window which are on that sticker are the U-value and the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient.  The U-value is the inverse of the rate of heat flow through the glazing; the smaller the u-value, the better the insulation quality of the glass.  The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient is a measure of the amount of radiant heat that is transmitted through the glass; the lower the SHGC the less of the sun’s heat will come through the window.   A low SHGC will reduce air conditioning expenses in a hot climate but actually may be counterproductive in colder areas where you might want the heat gain in the winter more than you would want the protection from the sun in the summer.  For a look at the sticker and for a better explanation of the numbers on it you can go to the NFRC website here.   http://www.nfrc.org/label.aspx

The NFRC also has a search page where you can look up the energy numbers on any window manufacturer’s products at: http://search.nfrc.org/search/searchdefault.aspx

There is currently a federal tax credit in place of one third the purchase price for qualifying windows and doors up to $1,500.00.  To meet the qualifications for the credit the window needs to have a U-value of .30 or less and a SHGC also of .30 or less.  Most of the standard windows do not have U-values quite this low, but many manufacturers have product upgrades that meet the criteria for the credit.  The tax credit is actual tax off your tax bill so it is a major incentive to the purchase of new windows.  It is due to expire at the end of 2010, it can only be used once over 2009-2010 for all qualifying energy upgrades and it does not include installation costs.  For more information on the credit you can go to the Energy Star website:  Energystar.gov.

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