Windows to the World

March 9, 2014

When you like the appearance of a building, what strikes you? When you don’t like the appearance, what is it that you don’t like? Often it’s the windows. Windows are an important architectural element of a structure. The size, shape and placement of windows affect both the exterior appearance of a building and the feeling of the interior. Windows provide ventilation and are a factor in heating and cooling a building. The material of construction, glazing, size and orientation affect how much energy, air and light enter through the opening, glass and frame.

Window Shapes and Sizes

There are many types and shapes of windows. Some can be used on any building, but others are designed to enhance a particular architectural style. For example, bay windows—double-hung windows with decorative glass and grilles—are characteristic of Queen Anne style buildings. A negative reaction to the windows on a building is usually because the windows don’t complement the architectural style in shape, size or material.

Tips on Replacing Windows

If you’re remodeling and want to replace windows, it’s important to consider how new windows will affect street appeal and the light and movement of air inside. To open up a dark room, enlarging windows or adding glass doors will let in more light and air. Natural light has a positive effect on people inside a building, including increasing employee productivity and improving students’ grades. Ease of operation is also important when you install new windows.

Window Materials

There are several types of materials used for frames including vinyl, wood and aluminum. Each has specific thermal and aesthetic properties. Wood is the classic frame material. It’s a good insulator but is more expensive and requires maintenance. Vinyl is less expensive, easy to maintain and comes in a number of shapes and colors, including those that simulate wood. Aluminum is a poor insulator but is lightweight and does not require much maintenance.

Window Glass

Window glass transmits light, but also allows heat to enter or escape a building. Energy-efficient windows can reduce the transfer of thermal energy by using double or triple glazing, coatings that control heat transfer or tintings that reduce solar gain. Energy efficiency in glass is described by U-Factor, or how well the glass keeps heat in, and solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC), or how well the glass blocks solar heat.

Retrofitting Older Windows

Old windows often leak around the frame and are made with single-pane glass, which is not energy efficient. Replacing old windows with new ones that have better thermal efficiency will save energy. Retrofitting older windows with double or triple panes and caulking around the frames may also reduce heat loss or heat gain.

Interstate Roofing is a family-owned business that has served the Portland, OR region since 1988. If you need window repair, we can help. If you need new window installation, we can recommend a range of styles and materials suitable for your building and budget. Contact us online or call us for an evaluation and free estimate. (503) 684-5611