Wood storm windows – Aluminum storm windows – Interior storm windows, etc.
All exterior storm windows serve the important purpose of protecting your valuable historic wood windows from the elements and save energy.
Interior storm windows save energy but have other benefits over exterior storms.
As stated earlier, storm windows today deliver the same revolutionary window technology that is available from the most advanced replacement windows without their high cost.
Don’t be fooled. A Wood or other storm window with LOW E coating will give you energy savings you need without replacing your original window. If you missed this page, read it now. Here we discuss the curb appeal of different types of storm windows.
The bad part is that all exterior storm windows detract from the appearance of your house. Interior storm windows however do not.
Exterior storm windows have been around since the 18th century and became common at the end of the 19th century.
To the right is a page from The Mulliner Catalog of 1893. Here wood storm windows are available to match the window sash design. Click to enlarge.
2-1/4 inch stiles are standard but 3 inch stiles are available. Stiles are the vertical boards on each side of the storm window.
Storm sashes were 1-1/8 inch during the time.
Windows Without Storm Windows.
As you learned on our Windows Designs page, window sashes are recessed in the window casing.
This provides depth and shadow lines, stimulating your senses, and creating interest.
If the window sash has true divided lights (multi-paned), the window muntins create additional shadows and interest.
The unique thing about all those separate panes of glass is that each reflects light a bit differently.
Passers-by see a dancing reflection as they adore your home and the pattern changes as the sun moves.
- Bare windows look beautiful – full design with sharp details are allowed to shine.
- Without exterior storm windows – energy loss.
- Windows are not protected from the elements resulting in more frequent maintenance.
- Install low profile exterior storm windows with Low-e glass for window sash protection and energy savings.
- Install interior storm windows for energy savings. More on this later.
Windows with Exterior Storm Windows.
A beautiful exposed window with all its glory loses some of its character when covered up with exterior storm windows.
The window’s character is reduced when a sheet of glass is placed over a window. You lose some of the sense of depth created by a three dimensional effect. (Although this still looks better than a bad replacement window). This problem is also encountered with the use of full glass storm doors.
Here are some options for exterior storm windows. Below is information about an Energy Star tax credit.
Double Hung Storm Windows.
Usually aluminum, these windows have a an upper and lower storm window sash.
Storm windows are triple-track so storm sashes and screen can be self-stored in the window.
Good news – storm windows are now made in double-track.
The reason this is better is because the double-track storm window is less noticeable than the older triple-track.
The new double-track storm window unit is smaller therefore protruding less from the window.
This makes the entire window look much better.
You still see the storm window but there is a nice shadow line around the edges.
The storm window must always match the color of the window sash.
- Historic windows are protected delaying maintenance by years.
- Energy savings with Low-e glass.
- Visual – This window has a thin lip where it is attached to the window’s blind-stop. This creates a shadow line around the window casing.
- Aluminum storm windows also protect against condensation. Because the glass of aluminum storm windows is colder than that of the inside windows, moisture will condense on its glass, circumventing condensation on the inner sashes of the wooden windows. The metal frames of aluminum storm windows cannot be harmed by moisture. They safely handle condensation as long as wooden window sills are kept painted and the weep holes at the bottoms of the aluminum frames are kept open to drain properly.
- Window character is compromised covered with glass.
- Visual (triple-track) – The storm window protrudes from the window for it is thick to hold storm sashes and screen. This design is quite noticeable and obtrusive.
- Design cannot be modified to match the center meeting rail of the interior window or window light grid configuration.
- Install a double-track storm window. An interior storm window can be installed that will not distract from the aesthetics of the prime window. More on this later.
Wood Storm Windows
Another option are the old style wood storm windows.
These windows are usually hung from hooks at the top of the window or held to the window frame with clips.
They are awkward to install and require storage space when not in use.
Once the springtime arrives, these storm windows can be removed. They are finished protecting and insulating your windows and can be stored away allowing your beautiful window to show itself off.
Wood storm windows can also use Low-e glass greatly increasing the energy efficiency. I recently paid $225.00 to install Low-e glass in one storm window.
- Historic windows are protected delaying maintenance by years.
- Very good energy savings especially with Low-e glass.
- Visual – The wood storm windows are removed and stored away after the cold season and the historic windows are fully visible and allowed to show off.
- Require storage space
- Difficult to hang.
- Visual – This window is wood and inserts perfectly into the window casing against the blind stop. It is flush with the casing. No shadows are created during the cold months when in use.
- Visual – Window light configuration is not always repeated in the storm window design (see below).
- Appearance can be improved by repeating true-divided-light window configuration to match interior window.
- An interior storm window can be installed that will not distract from the aesthetics of the prime window. More on this later.
The wood storm window style in the example using two sheets of glass above is most popular but not the best design.
- The interior window is six-over-six window design while the storm window is one unit with merely two panes of glass.
Look again at the photo – it does leave a lot to be desired.
The storm window with the best curb appeal will repeat the window light configuration of the interior window exactly as in an example to the right.
This window will have nice detailing like the prime interior window. What it lacks is the shadow line around the perimeter where it will meet the window casing.
Note: All storm windows for double-hung windows just have a meeting rail. This is the horizontal divider of the storm window. It must perfectly match the center meeting rail of the interior window (horizontal piece where the window lock is).
Purchasing Wooden Storm Windows.
If you need new wood storm windows, first check the OHG listing of window restorers. Perhaps they can build a storm window or refer you to someone who can. If you do look in the Yellow Pages, search for wood-workers. Don’t waste your time in the windows section!
You may even want to try constructing one yourself.
Historic Home Works – Forum discussion with links on sash making.
Other Exterior Storm Windows.
While wood storm windows are most historically correct, there are quite a few other types of modern storm windows available for historic homes. Some are advertised as invisible allowing the shadows to be visible and some duplicate the appearance of an old fashioned wood storm window.
Energy Star Tax Credit for Storm Windows
Unfortunately there is no Energy Star tax credit for storm windows. However this may soon change as it is currently being discussed. Window makers do not want this to happen. They hope storm windows will disappear and they almost are. You can help by sending a copy and paste letter to the EPA.
All Storm Windows Must Match the Window Shape
Two beautiful Italianate houses, built by the same builder are located next door to each other.
Both have beautiful arched Italianate windows and both have storm windows painted to match the sash correctly.
One owner (top photo) took the extra step and installed the appropriate arched storm windows to match the window sash design. Here this this character defining feature of Italianate architecture can be seen and enjoyed.
The other owner (bottom photo) had the window arch filled in and then installed rectangular storm windows. Here the shapes conflict and results in confusion to our inner senses.
Building elements must all share the same language of the building. In this example a character defining feature of Italianate architecture is arched windows. The window sash is arched, the head casing – window hood is arched, and the shutters are arched.
To our inner senses these are all just shapes – not shutters, windows, etc. A window modified to be a rectangular shape among complementing features that are arched is a piece of the puzzle that does not belong.
While one may think modifying a window this way is insignificant. Now that I point this out, you will see the effect this modification can have.
Both homes are beautiful but if the home in the bottom photo can be so much better.
Storm Window Color
Storm windows must always match the color of the window sash. Never use white and think you will get away with it unless your prime window is also white. Remember the point is to make your storm windows fit in and not be noticed.
A popular color for the prime window sashes was dark green (gloss). This color is currently Benjamin Moore Essex Green. Dark green window sashes were popular from the mid 1800’s through the 1930’s with wood storm windows being dark through the 1940’s.
Interior Storm Windows
Each exterior storm window has both good and bad appearance issues. So, what to do? To solve this problem, more and more people are putting their storm windows INSIDE the house.
This allows your prime windows to face the world in all their glory, solving the “blank stare” problem encountered by covering divided light windows. Here you get the best of both worlds. Interior storm windows can easily be removed for summer storage and cleaning.
For additional energy savings you can use both an exterior and interior storm window. There are a few great interior storm window companies out there.
There are many types of interior storm windows. You can even make your own for a few dollars. Do a search – there are many ways to make them. My suggestion would be to use plexi-glass.
Since they are not outside, you really don’t need to construct a typical window frame. I just put some wood together, stained it and applied felt weather stripping to the edges so not to scratch my wood-work.
More information on Interior Storm Windows and manufacturers here.
Condensation in Windows
With interior storm windows as with all storm windows you should understand and be aware of condensation issues.
Historic Home Works has a forum discussion on window condensation I recommend reading.
Historically if one had wood storm windows they also had wood window screens.
In my opinion this is an unnecessary luxury that takes up valuable storage space and detracts from curb appeal by hiding your windows.
Adjustable Window Screens are my recommendation.
Horizontal sliding screen frames are adjusted to fit perfectly to any width window.
I have a variety of sizes on hand – some that are larger and smaller in height depending on how much outside air you want.
Adjustable louvers are also available for attic ventilation.
Remember to paint the frames to match your window sash color.
Here is a link to adjustable window screens.
They are historically correct, easy to use and store, and are very inexpensive. They can be purchased at real hardware stores or online here.
While I do use adjustable screen windows with the wood painted dark green, I really prefer another option.
Another historically correct option which I also use are lace curtains. They provide the same purpose as screens. Bugs cannot enter.
Whatever you choose as a screen, do NOT get a full window screen. You will be hiding the beauty of your window!
It is always better to install a storm window (they are reversible), than to replace the original sash to prevent heat loss. To better understand energy savings and your windows be sure to read our page on window energy performance.
Remember – Windows are the eyes of the house. Beautiful windows (eyes) sparkle and send a signal of warmth and create interest.
The Door is the mouth of the house which (if there is no storm door), creates a feeling of welcome and a desire to enter as it draws you inside. See for yourself. Does a house with a storm door seem more inviting than one without?