Sharper Edge

Trends in window glass for building secure and air-tight homes with beautiful views.

July 01, 2006

Last year's devastating hurricanes and the growing demand from custom-home owners has resulted in a marketplace teeming with new window options.

Marvin Windows' Ultimate Double Hung Magnum has a spiral balance system that carries more than 70 percent of the sash's weight.

Big Picture Windows

"Custom homes are now using more windows," says Luis Jauregui, president of Jauregui Architecture Interiors and Construction of Austin, Texas. "Owners want more glass and less wall."

"New technology in the window industry is allowing for larger windows," says John Kirchner, spokesperson for Marvin Windows and Doors. By using butt-jointed panes, making a thicker glass with more layers, manufacturers are able to offer various styles of large windows.

Products for Fierce Weather

Many new products are also evolving in the wake of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

"Nowadays people can get custom windows with highly efficient energy glass packages, so no matter how much glass is used in a home, the energy costs are kept under control," says Kathy Ziprik, a spokeswoman for Simonton Windows. She says many custom homes, not just those in coastal areas, now have impact-resistant glass.

Last year's severe storms forced several states to review their building codes and raise window standards. Many manufacturers, however, keep one step ahead, making impact-resistant windows more readily available nationally.

Better Energy-Efficiency

Impact-resistant glass also lowers energy bills as well as reduces noise and UV rays. Home insurance rates might decrease.

Although impact-resistant glass has many benefits, Brad Negaard, president of GBN Construction of Jacksonville, Fla., worries that its cost deters many homeowners.

"Installing all impact-resistant glass can double the cost of windows in a large custom home," says Negaard, "which can equate to a $25,000–$35,000 change to the homeowner."

This picture-window effect allows homeowners to be outdoors without actually stepping outside.

Homeowners in areas not requiring impact-resistant glass can still benefit from energy-efficient windows. Low-E2-rated windows, which used to be a manufacturer's upgrade, are now fairly standard. Jauregui says window films, too, are easier to obtain.

"More protective films, which filter UV rays and bounce light back out, are available now," says Jauregui.

"They used to be an after-market item, and now builders can get them from window manufacturers during the ordering stage."

He also noted a new version of tinting: Low-E2 is a takeoff of the Low-E2 window. "Low-E2 windows have the glass installed backward to keep heat from coming into the house," says Negaard, noting the feature is particularly good in southern areas.

More Security

In the past, homeowners were mainly concerned with having multiple locks on their doors, but they now realize the need for window security to be just as tight.

"We have made headway with multi-locking mechanisms that we've inherited from the Europeans," says Jauregui.

Multi-locking windows are more common with wood-framed windows (as opposed to vinyl and other synthetic materials) and have more than one lock location, similar to multi-locking doors.

Author Information
Jennifer Heyns is a Virginia-based writer.

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