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.
These aluminum storm 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.
The price you pay for this convenience is an ugly storm window. These storm windows extend out past the window casing to provide space for screen and storm window self storage.
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.
Exterior Storm Window Pros:
- 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 or single-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.
Compare Double versus Triple-track Storm Windows and manufacturers of Double-Track and Single-Track storm windows click here.
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.
Wood Storm Windows Pros:
- 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 green 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).
Wood Storm Window Hardware
Storm Window Mounting Option-Trick
Storm windows can be hung by the hooks shown above. Sometimes to achieve a tighter fit Double-Wing clips (shown to the right) can be added to insure a good seal.
Some people do not hang their storm window from hooks but use ONLY Double-Wing clips to secure them. This is fine but there can be a problem that can be easily avoided.
When the storm window is hanging, condensation on the inside of the storm window can drip down to the window sill and escape under the storm window.
When a window is clipped to the casing, the storm window rests with all its weight on the window sill. Condensation will then collect between the window and the sill which can cause wood rot.
My trick is to use two or more US nickels at a cost of 5 cents each. They are used as a spacer allowing condensation to escape at the base.
What to Do:
Install the window and at the base of the storm window insert two putty knives to protect the window and sill. Between the putty knives insert a screw driver to force/pry the storm window upward giving you enough space to insert the nickels in the areas you choose.
Wooden nickels are NOT recommended for they are too thick and like wood will rot once wet.
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.
- DIY – How to Make Wood Storm Windows
- DIY Storm Wood Storm Window by Scott Slider
- PBS Video – The Woodwrights Shop – Simple Sash Restoration and Making
- Historic Home Works (this site is shutting down but some info remains) –
Forum discussion with links on sash making.
- alternative link
- Adams Architectural Millwork – Ready to assemble wood storm window kits.
Energy Star Tax Credit for Storm Windows
Storm windows are now approved by the Energy Star program. Anderson Windows tried to stop this for they want to replace everyone historic window and get you coming back every 15 years to replace the replacements. But too bad Anderson lost. Storm windows that qualify for the Energy Star program must have low-e glass however which I really recommend.
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.
Allied Windows makes a storm window to fit any window shape.
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.
Where to buy exterior storm windows .
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.
Do You Live in New England?
Window casings are designed differently on New England homes. If you live in New England you need to know what options you have for Eastern Style Window Casings .
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
Aluminum storm windows have the added benefit of protecting the wood inner sashes against condensation. Because their glass is colder than that of wooden windows, aluminum storm windows collect and condense moisture that circumvents the inner sashes. Because their metal frames cannot be harmed by moisture, aluminum storm windows 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. By James L. Garvin
With interior storm windows as with all storm windows you should understand and be aware of condensation issues.
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 .
You have three options to save energy. These articles have recommended manufacturers.
- Get an exterior storm window . More info and manufacturer recommendations.
- Get an interior storm window . More info and manufacturer recommendations.
- Replace the glass in your original window with the newly invented Pikington insulated glass . (don’t get rid of that wavy glass though)
Read about window screens here . There is more to window screens than you think.
The Door is the heart 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?