What's New--Windows & Doors

When tract housing developments first appeared in Levittown, N.Y. and Daly City, Calif., they were built to house the masses affordably. Only commodity-level building products were used. Even today’s McMansions, are built with value in mind. But thanks to the technological strides, a basic box can now become a one-of-a-kind dream home incorporating style and functionality.

In 2005, the top trends in windows and doors fall into four categories: protection, customization, space maximization and stylization. Each trend category approaches homeowner issues ranging from architectural and decor dilemmas to and climate and safety concerns. And manufacturers offer some unique and intriguing solutions and a few alternatives for each.

Protective elements
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, nearly 75 percent of the nation’s homes are in areas that experience flooding, hurricanes and hail. In 2005 forecasters expect the Atlantic region’s above-average hurricane activity to continue. Most window vendors now offer impact-resistant glass products ? windows that can withstand the force of flying debris. Today’s impact-resistant windows offer enhanced benefits to the consumer. These windows absorb outside noise, block harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays, and offer security from intruders.

Impact-resistant glass includes a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between two panes of glass to create a single sheet of impact glass ? much like an automobile’s windshield. They are designed to withstand the impact of an 8-ft. long, 9 lb., 2 by 4 traveling at 50 ft. per second.

CertainTeed’s impact-resistant windows meet wind-borne debris testing standards ASTM E 1996 and ASTM E 1886. “During high-wind conditions, one of the most vulnerable parts of any building is its windows and doors when they are unprotected,” says Jerry Habeck, manager of design for CertainTeed’s window group. “These windows are designed to keep wind and debris from penetrating a home’s exterior during volatile weather.”

The StormForce MP Series from Loewen takes the performance of its standard window and doors to the extreme, offering homeowners structurally enhanced windows and doors to meet even the most stringent demands of Miami-Dade County test protocols. Rated to DP 70, this design is able to withstand 9,000 cycles of positive and negative wind loading, 105 psf structural loading and the impact of a D-Missile.

Manufacturers also offer impact-resistant glass on many patio door lines. Hurd FeelSafe windows and patio doors exceed coastal building codes and also feature the Energy Star rating. Marvin Windows and Doors expanded its StormPlus line to include a new swinging French door, which is available to fit a new standard 10-ft. rough opening.

In addition to protecting windows from possible storm damage, Jeld-Wen now offers defense from another threat: termites. Jeld-Wen’s AuraLast wood, available on both wood windows and doors, is vacuum-treated for 100 percent absorption of active ingredients. This way, the wood’s protection is not compromised when sanded or nicked. Typically, treated wood is coated in only a thin protective layer approximately 1/32 in. deep.

Window superiority
Whether a homeowner wants to individualize his or her property, express a design theme or ensure maximum energy efficiency, the window of opportunity has never been better. With nearly limitless custom offerings, windows used in remodeling projects can enhance an existing design style or help create a whole new facade.

Combining the look of Douglas fir’s grain with low-maintenance fiberglass, Milgard introduced its new double-hung, tilt-sash windows. This fiberglass window, featuring a detailed wood veneer interior, promises strength and stability regardless of climate conditions. Mark Gallant, Milgard senior marketing manager, explains, “It is so dimensionally strong that even across thermal variations, the movement of the frame isn’t affected.”

In the vinyl category, window manufacturers see greater demand for originality. Superseal Window and Door Co. vice president Ron Vespa says, “The biggest trend now is people putting in a higher-end product. They go for more features and options now, not just a plain vanilla window.”

While climate conditions play a large part in the longevity of wood windows, many homeowners still clamor for real wood and will accept no substitute. Clad wood windows allow the homeowner to enjoy real wood interior while the exterior of the window is protected from the elements. But the cladding is no longer simply practical; it can be a key design element or a dazzling home accent. Many manufacturers offer a broad range of exterior cladding color options. Jeld-Wen offers 39 metal clad colors, three copper finishes and a clear satin, anodized finish.

Also, grilles can now be designed to match the exterior cladding as well as the interior decor. For example, Hurd recently introduced two-tone grilles to match interior style. To make an exterior color scheme look especially sharp, Hurd offers two-tone exterior cladding. The sash and grille can be one color and the frame can be a different color to create a picture-frame effect.

“Usually people want either white or off-white on the inside grilles,” says Joe Herman, Hurd’s vice president of sales and marketing. “But if your exterior is one of the earth-tone colors that are so popular, you don’t want white grilles on the outside.”

Space maximization
We’ve all heard the phrase: bigger is better. And while sometimes true, often looking bigger is best. Remodelers often must find space-maximizing alternatives to big additions. New windows and doors are out there to help with this dilemma.

Strategically installed French doors open up existing rooms, allow in natural light and provide a more spacious feel. New French doors from vendors like Marvin feature double doors with a fixed side. They also offer double doors with sidelites.

Even sliding patio doors are now available with integral or snap-in grilles to more closely resemble French doors and better coordinate with the traditional look of multi-lited, double-hung windows. Milgard’s new sliding, French-styled door combines a decor theme with slider functionality.

However, French doors aren’t limited to the patio. French doors anywhere in the home are ideal for separating rooms, adding style and creating a spacious appearance. Today, French doors are frequently used between the bedroom and bathroom of master suites.

Installing a mirrored door adds dimension and conducts light to make the room appear larger, while also being quite functional. In the past, mirrors tended to fall off doors after exposure to moisture or heat. Jeld-Wen’s Impression Mirror door is now adhered to the skin and is then recessed into the door, not glued on.

Architectural styling
By renovating smaller houses through remodeling, more homeowners now enjoy upgraded, high-end products while maintaining the comfort and charm of an older home. Teri Cline, Jeld-Wen corporate communications manager, calls it the “jewel box” syndrome. “Homeowners want to keep the original character of these older homes, yet they also want to incorporate the latest innovations when it comes to reliability and performance.”

In order to allow homeowners the flexibility to upgrade their home in high style, several vendors have introduced products that combine practicality with period styling.

Based on the look of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century, new craftsman-style windows and doors abound. But application is not limited to homes of the craftsman era. The theory behind craftsman style is to use structural elements as decoration, so craftsman doors and windows make striking additions to most home styles.

Marvin’s Casemaster windows exemplify the craftsman style with smooth millwork, folding handles, all-wood interiors and wood screen options. For doors with the rich craftsman details without the maintenance concerns of real wood, Therma-Tru offers the American Style Collection, constructed of flush-glazed, stainable fiberglass featuring glass assembled directly into the door during manufacturing.

With the invasion of European style in home design, manufacturers have also developed diverse product lines based in Spanish, Italian and English architecture. For customers desiring the European flair, Therma-Tru introduced the Classic-Craft Rustic Collection of fiberglass doors boasting the look of fine-grain panels and dramatic arches to reflect the doorways of Tuscany. The low-maintenance, Classic-Craft doors are available in heights from 6 ft. 8 in. to 8 ft. and widths from 3 ft. to 3 ft. 6 in. to accommodate larger entry ways.

Delivering European style to customers in both moderate and extreme climates Jeld-Wen IWP offers the Estate Collection of wood doors, and the IWP Aurora which is constructed of a high-end composite material. The latter includes dramatic knots and marks to emulate real wood. Both lines of Jeld-Wen IWP doors are available with custom accents including hang-forged straps, speakeasy grilles and metal button accents called clavos. Additionally, Jeld-Wen IWP produces the Estate Collection Garage Doors which match the Estate entry doors.

Both Jeld-Wen IWP and Therma-Tru Classic-Craft Rustic collections include doors emulating the American Southwest architecture. These doors imitate a “rustic elegance” appeal of Southwest style with modern functionality.

Height requirements
Over the last 40 years, taller ceilings have increasingly lent a spacious feel to homes. Door vendors now offer several lines of tall doors in heights up to 12 feet to match ceilings height.

Today, a typical ceiling height is 10 feet, rising from the former average of 8 feet. Eight ft. doors are now standard from manufacturers like Therma-Tru, Jeld-Wen and even smaller manufacturers like Algoma Hardwoods.

Following this trend, patio doors are also available in sizes to complement cathedral ceilings and widths that allow an enormous amount of natural light. The Therma-Tru Smooth Star Patio Door System, premiering second quarter 2005, will be available in heights up to 8 ft. and widths up to 12 ft.

Alternative wood species
Manufacturers now offer a greater range of wood species to appeal to customers desiring the traditional appeal of real wood. Wood windows and interior and exterior doors highlight the wood used in cabinets and floors, and serve as design accents to satisfy the wood enthusiast.Wood window manufacturers now offer several exotic species. Standard interior wood offerings include Douglas fir, oak and pine; but for a dramatic finish Hurd recently introduced red oak and mahogany wood windows. Marvin now offers wood interiors in cherry and white oak.

Each wood species features its own intricate details and variations including coloring, grain pattern and knots. Jeld-Wen Premium Wood Doors offers species from hickory and poplar to mahogany and Spanish oak.

The devil is in the details, but beating the devil is now easier than ever. Window and door accents tend to be the last consideration in the selection process, but they add a custom flourish to remodeling jobs, and often, without the custom-price.

Thanks to consumer demand, design trends and availability, the hardware category has become a strong focus in building products. Customers now demand hardware that shares color, finish and texture properties with faucets, appliances and fixtures.

Several manufacturers, including Marvin and Andersen now offer detailed window hardware to better match cabinetry and fixtures. Marvin recently unveiled architectural options from four exclusive brands ? Ashley Norton, Bouvet, Stone River Bronze and Valli&Valli. Appealing to a wider range of styles, Andersen’s window hardware includes Classic, Metro and Estate hardware in finishes like Antique Brass, Brushed Chrome and Oil Rubbed Bronze.

For a low-maintenance, custom window look, CertainTeed now offers PrizmGlass ? an alternative to custom, beveled glass. CertainTeed marketing manager, Maria McDonagh-Forde explains, “Through optical film technology, Prism Grid transforms the appearance of glass in a way that allows light to filter through, casting a rainbow of colors.”

And for the homeowner who wants to demonstrate artistic talent, or simply personalize a room, using router technology, Jeld-Wen custom-carved doors can be designed with nearly any sketch, design or logo carved directly into the door.

Full support
With longer warranties and stringent research and development, manufacturers are working hard to limit product issues and provide superior customer service. Following decades of experience and constant product development, manufacturers also tend to stand behind their products with longer warranties ? in some cases, lifetime.

To simplify the evaluation and comparison process, Superseal recently rolled out an online “spec-writer” which allows customers to collect and organize technical information within their own password-protected account. With Jeld-Wen’s Partners Portal tool, customers have a dedicated, password-protected page featuring order details, tracking and history. Many Web sites offer product warranty details, building code requirements, and even seminar and trade show notices.

To remain competitive, manufacturers have beefed up the R&D resulting in some amazing technological advancements and product enhancements.

These changes can be partially attributed to the more knowledgeable consumer, as Superseal’s vice president, Ron Vespa, explains.

“Today, manufacturers have to be proactive to keep up with what is going on in the market and come out with new designs and spice up what they have to offer,” says Vespa. “You have to be on top of your game to remain on top.”