Each year as the weather gets colder, we receive a number of inquiries via email, phone or FaceBook asking for suppliers of traditional wood storm windows. For the houses we’ve worked on we’ve tried a large number of suppliers, fabricators, and contractors, so are in a good position to provide the review below. For those with a home dating before 1940, you likely had traditional wood storms and separate wood screen sash on your home. Over the past century these important original components may have been carefully stored in a garage, attic or basement to be maintained and installed seasonally, or they were tossed when an aluminum triple-track storm window salesman was successful in convincing the homeowner to adopt this modern solution that would eliminate the need to drag out the ladder two times each year. Our house was one of the many among the latter case, so when we acquired it, we had only one original wood storm on the double hung windows and a handful of wood storms and screens for the basement windows. In other homes we’ve worked on we have been fortunate to find several original storms in the attic. If only that were the case with all homes…original fabric kept on site and stored for later use in the attic.
When you are lacking your original traditional wood storms, the best bet is to find and work with a cabinet maker or carpenter that is skilled in mortise and tenon joinery…the installation of glass or screen is the easy part. We have had a number of storm or screen sash made by local mill shops, including the one in our basement. One caveat however is that cabinet makers tend to require that the homeowner or the contractor that intends to install the storms provide them with the dimensions or shop drawings, as they generally don’t do the site work/field measuring. Unfortunately no one in the immediate Albany area has seen the value and market of this type of business, which is probably why we get so many inquiries. Thus some local (Upstate NY) examples include:
- Contractor’s Millwork Inc. (Alden & Steve Witham) in Sharon Springs – (518) 284-2040. They do custom windows using traditional sash making machinery.
- Denis O’Meara of Meara Woodworking is also a fine carpenter in the Sharon Springs area that does window restoration and replication and would likely create storm windows. Website: http://www.mearawoodwork.com/
- Damon and MaryAnn Clark of Clark’s Woodworking in Herkimer, NY – (315) 866-3694. While generally cabinet makers they have the skills to create storm or screen frames.
- Michael Kershaw of Wood Window Workshop in Utica. They are window contractors so they can probably do everything from field measurements, to shop drawings, to fabrication and installation. http://www.woodwindowworkshop.com
If interior storms are the better route for your windows, then we’d recommend Advanced Energy Panels out of Hoosick Falls. http://advancedenergypanels.com/
When we feel the need to go out of state for a supplier, we have two favorites that we have used. Harbrook, the local Marvin window dealer does offer traditional storm or screen sash as well as a combination storm that has a wood frame but interchangeable screen or storm panels that are removable from the inside. (http://www.harbrook.com/) These are not products that they advertise extensively so you won’t find them on the showroom floor or on the Marvin website. You need to ask specifically about their storm window options. Also keep in mind that they are made in MN, so not local.
One of our favorite storm window suppliers is Spencerworks out of Lincoln, NE (http://www.spencerworks.com/). John Spencer is a small biz owner/inventor and works very hard to encourage the use of traditional storm windows with a modern twist. He is very easy to work and has in fact solicited feedback from customers with the intention of constantly improving his products. We’ve been happy to see such improvements based on our own suggestions. His all-season sash are strong, durable and energy efficient storms with traditional hanging hardware and factory painting, however at certain times of the year, there can be long lead times because he tends to get many whole house orders at a time. We’ve used these storms on several rental houses that we have restored and feel they are especially fitting for urban rowhouses where storage and access for seasonal changing can be limited.
Another options for local historic homes is Historic Albany’s Parts Warehouse. (http://www.historic-albany.org/about-the-warehouse/). We have found salvaged storms or screens there that need only refreshed paint or new screening and we’ve been able to do that ourselves. The key is to go there with a list of the measurements you need. It is probably the most sustainable option, as you are reusing/recycling an architectural element that otherwise may have ended up in a landfill and was made with traditional materials and craftsmanship.
Lastly, a word of advice, when we install new or salvaged storm windows we often add silicone open bulb weatherstripping to the inside face of the storm (where it is compressed against the window frame). This creates an airtight seal around your storm and gives you the best energy efficiency for your storm and primary (old) window system. It can create an assembly that has better U-value and R-value than any modern thermopaned, replacement window unit because it stops air infiltration at the colder side of the system and created a conditioned air space in between the storm and the primary window. If you primary window also has weatherstripping, you can effectively eliminate any chance of condensation on either glass surface. A skilled carpenter can easily cut a reglet into the wood frame and insert the silicone bulb weatherstripping around the perimeter. The best part is that the cost of the weatherstrip is relatively low (about $1 per linear ft) so very much worth the effort and the energy savings payback. We recognize the difference (air and sound) immediately when we put our storm windows up each fall. While there are a number of sources online, we tend to order from Architectural Resource Center in NH or Resource Conservation Technology in MD. (http://www.architecturalresourcecenter.com/bulb-vinyl-silicon-leaf-weather-stripping/; http://www.conservationtechnology.com/building_weatherseals_components.html) Another hint, avoid the peel and stick (self-adhesive) kind if you can, as it does not last.
While we feel anyone of the resources listed above should be able to help a home or property owner develop storm window solutions, Landmark Consulting is happy to provide on-site consultations and technical assistance given our experience on the subject.
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