WindowsWindow Talk – Ep. 1

May 25, 2020by jason0

Jason is a 30-year veteran of the windows and doors business. Join us while we discuss a small project to replace the window’s in my 1926 cottage in a historic neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.


(Tristan) I am Tristan, and this is Jason. We’re here to talk about windows a little bit. We’re in my house and I recently, started a window, or at least did the order for a small window project that ended up, of course, being a very expensive window project.

Jason’s a 30 year veteran of the window and door business. So he came over to answer some questions and talk a little bit about this project, which is for some Prairie-style windows in 1926 cottage in Portland, Oregon. So this is one of them. A couple of things about the windows, just from a homeowner perspective, you can kind of see there’s a plexiglass, insert in these because they are single pane.

They’re drafty. In the winter, they’re freezing. So I paid quite a bit of money for these, I called Indo windows maybe seven or eight years ago, and they really make a big difference. They helped a lot and I was happy to keep these and keep the existing windows. this window, you can’t probably see it, but it has the original wavy glass, which I really love.

It just gives a little bit of a soft effect when you’re looking through it. You can kind of see the bubbles and the imperfections in the glass. The other window on the other side of the room that’s identical to this one. The wavy glass has already gone. It was replaced. At some point, someone probably threw a baseball through the window, and now this regular glass you can get where you need glass replacement.

But what I found was it was insanely expensive, just outrageously expensive. Do you do, is that your, do you have any words of wisdom?

(Jason) So I, we can just talk about wavy glass. wavy glass used to be a, an effect of the manufacturing, a poor manufacturing effect. So the way the glass was, because they actually polished the surface of the glass with the machine and were not able to get it flat.

And then today’s glass, they actually float the glass on a bed of mercury, which is perfectly flat. So your optics on the glass is much clearer without any distortion. But in a home like this, it does give you that. Nice distorted, soft feel that is authentic to the home. Now to recreate that clearly is very expensive by today’s manufacturing standards.

(Tristan) Yeah. It was going to be like maybe an extra thousand dollars per window just to even start going in that direction. And it also meant wood windows, not a aluminum flat, no metal cladding or whatever on the outside. So you go with historic original, all original. So it’s super expensive. Custom made. And you don’t even get the, the sort of modern options that I kind of want it because I don’t want to have to paint these windows anymore.

Correct. So the reason that I ended up going with that, I’m getting to windows is I the sill, and I’ll, I’ll take you out and show you the sill in a minute, but the sill’s a mess. And it’s, I’d had it painted and, and filled, maybe six years ago, and then he came back two years later because it was still coming apart.

And then this year it’s really coming apart. So I thought, okay, well I need to get these sills replaced, but I still thought I would keep these windows. The handyman came out and just poked his finger into the window cell and then he poked his finger into the sash and he came in and said, you need more than just sills.

You need windows. So the project went from being what I thought and hoped was going to be a pretty small project and the whole deal, not uncommon with a hundred year old product. And I guess it’s impressive that they lasted as long as they did, but you can see it. I mean, inside the glaze, the glazing is old and has been falling apart.

So this one even had started. it gets a little moisture in between this insert, the plexiglass insert and the glass itself. So it’s been failing for a while. and, so I went and did, did quite a bit of research trying to find someone. I honestly had a hard time finding anyone to come out and. On a reasonable timeline just to look at the project.

A lot of people wouldn’t even come out just in what didn’t want the project. It’s too small. It’s too small. So I’ve got two windows on the front of the house, and later when I go outside, I’ll show you there’s a third window.  kind of up in the attic. It didn’t really need to be replaced, but, because the three are on the front facade of the house, I want them all to match exactly.

And I couldn’t get exactly the same color of kind of red-orange that I’ve currently got on the painted surface. But like I said, I really wanted that metal that has the baked-on finish. And so, I mean, in a historic district like this, apparently that’s a little risky because they want original, original.

So fingers crossed, I’m just going to do the project and hope that they don’t come and tell me I have to remove them. I don’t think they will because they will look very good. Close to the original, I think. But have you had any experience with, replacing historic wooden windows with clad?

(Jason) Yes. In my years at Jeld-Wen, roughly 30% of the products that we produced in wood-clad were custom colors, specifically for historic districts to match.

(Tristan) Exactly. So they would bring us a paint chip and we would match that, exterior paint color exactly. Over the aluminum. So the other, can you tell me. I don’t remember the choices I made. I just sort of said yes to most of the things I knew. I didn’t want that. There were certain coatings or fillings or something that can give the glass a little bit of a green cast from the street, and I know I didn’t want that.

So I think I made all the choices not to get that. But can you tell us why? What are the the main choices that I probably made but didn’t think very much about it. Sure we can talk about glass coding first off. So this particular glass you’re seeing right here is entirely translucent. There’s no coding on either side.

So the green tint that you’d be talking about is what’s called a low ego glass or low emissivity. So what its intention is is to actually mirror longwave radiation. So it’s job is to take the heat that your furnace makes and reflect it back into the home. So it is a coding that will either go on surface four, which is what you touch, or in between the two panes of an insulated unit.

And there’s also gas that sometimes they’ll put inside of there either argon or Krypton, which will increase the thermal efficiency and slow the transfer heat between that. but that actual glass, especially in the higher efficiencies, or excuse me, that coding is actually green. so if you would say the most efficient one that you use today is what’s called the Lowy three 66.

That is three coats of silver, and it has a 66% light transmittance. This clear glass has a 95% light transmission.  If it blocks almost none of your light because there’s no coding on it, so you can imagine how not only dark it is, but how green the actual color is for comparison, bronze or a gray-tinted glass has a 65% light transmission. So it is a really important selection to make when selecting especially in a  historic district to make sure that you get the right clarity of glass and make sure you get the right colors. Cause that green can be quite off-putting. I don’t want to exempt that. I was concerned, I didn’t want to see green when I look at the house.

But it sounds like also had I gone with that, one of those coated glasses. Then the light here in the living room would have been diminished by some notice, some noticeable amount.

Yeah. They are very tinted. Now the opposite of that is that the thermal efficiency of that product compared to this product is many factors, right?

So not only  the air infiltration water, and your energy output is dramatically increased with the new products.

So I wasn’t that worried. I’m most remote for installation. I’m mostly worried about your heat. I have air conditioning, but it doesn’t really get hot, so hot here in Portland. If I were really concerned, if I were in a hotter climate, what would, what other considerations would I have needed to, to like what I have had to consider that green look in order to get.

In order to sort of keep my expensive, cool air in, or are there other options for hot climates too?

(Jason) Yeah. So you’re talking about there’s the, the two, the cooling and the heating. two variables are you value in solar heat gain coefficient, so that you value in the Northern climates is designed to keep the heat from your furnace in your house right.

The second is what’s called solar heat gain coefficient. So solar heat gain is the ability of the sun to get heat inside your house. So what we do in the Southern climates is we turn all of that reflective quality towards the outside. So instead of it, the heat going in, it’s reflecting it back out, to the house.

So you, in the Southern climates, you’re looking for a very low solar heat gain coefficient. It’s less important in the North. Because you actually want pole passive solar gain in the winter overall because when the sun comes out, you want it to warm your house and then also reflect your long wave heaters radiation back into the house.

So, and is there a way to, if you’re in a warm climate, is there a way to get that, without the green or is that, yeah. Yeah. They make a number of more clear products, that, that. Cause a lot of people are unhappy with the agreement. Like the PPG version is blue, the Cardinal version is more green. and then just depends on how high you go.

The other property is the higher efficiency you go in the Northern climate, the more likely you are to have condensation on the exterior window at certain times of the day. Oh, got it. Okay. And yeah, I wouldn’t want that either. And it seems like that would be also be really bad for the window itself.

Right. If you have condensation, then. Snow? Well, no worse than water, no worse than rain. It’s just more just like you don’t want to see condensation on your new window. And it is essentially like a pitcher. So if you put a pitcher of water with ice in it on the sun and it condenses on the outside, it’s the same thing.

So once, once a window is especially a higher efficiency product, will actually condense in certain environmental conditions. So the other thing on these is I had the option of doing, of doing something that would tilt out. I chose to just stick with the static windows. I never, I mean as the front doors, right between these two windows, so I didn’t think that I really needed the ability to vent.

But what are your thoughts about that? There are certain situations where you would recommend venting should I have done? I think that’s a tough one. It really depends on your passive airflow, right? A lot of people don’t want their front door open from a security perspective. They want your front door locked and so you’re going to get this here.

This particular window would set up as a, you could have run the bar right in the same spot and then put what’s called a double hung. So the top could go down and the bottom could go up, and then you could get, you know, a small, ventilation across the top. Now you do get a significantly larger bar here, and then you have hardware locking mechanisms, that type of thing.

And then also it’s not nearly as. Air efficient because there’s operation, there’s weather stripping and that type of thing. So you’d use lose a significant amount of efficiency and that’s fine, but it does open, it’s just personal, personal preference from a historical perspective. I doubt they would have given you any grief because the look of the home would be virtually identical.

Right. If that makes sense. And then as far as the, so what I’m getting is going to be dual glazed instead of saying single like this, so I won’t need this plastic in here anymore. But you sometimes see these windows that are, that they have this sort of the, the millions would be called the, the, the divisions in it, but there’s just smooth glass on both sides.

That’s not what I am getting. can you talk about that? It was the making the choice between those two. Right. So the first thing that’s different about this window and your new windows is that this is a single painted glass. So this would be called a single glass. The new window is going to be dual glazed, so it will have an insulated unit with an airspace in between.

So the grow you’re talking about, the one you can’t actually touch would be as what’s called a grow between the glass. And so it was just an aluminum bar that’s painted to match the color, either interior or exterior or both. and it’s placed in between the panes of glass. So from an aesthetic point of view, this one’s the least favorable in a historic situation, but it’s also the easiest to clean.

And it’s also the least likely to fail. and then as far as cost goes, it’s on the lower spectrum. The next step up would be what’s called an SDL, which is a simulated divided light, in which case the glass is actually not broken. So in this line of here, this glass is actually divided. and those, the simulated divided light looks just like this.

They just stick it on the surface of the glasses, taped them. so it gives you the identical look. It’s just that the unit is only one. And the reason why this one here is actually a true divided light. So you can actually see his glasses divided individually in these mullions. and the reason why you wouldn’t want to do that for an insulated unit is that from the failure perspective, when they do fail, the number of units that you have to replace creates the cost just much, much higher as far as maintaining that product.

So. Longer term, if this was a simulated divided light, there’s only one piece of glass here rather than six. And so you’re not paying individually for each one of those as they fail over time. It’s, it makes sense. So yeah, I’m the same way to do it. LA is the next most expensive. And then most aluminum cloud products don’t even do a true divided light anymore.

It is a dying breed. ever since the simulated divided light has gotten to. A level of craftsmanship where it looks authentic, you almost can’t tell the difference. So it is, it is the right way to go. Good. Good. And what about for my exterior? So like I said, I’m doing some kind of metal clad that has like a color is baked on or something.

So theoretically I don’t ever have to paint it. well, you can’t paint it. Actually, the surface is very similar to a Teflon pan. So it is a kind our surface, which is a brand name of a baked enamel process. and so it is likely a 20 year warranty, and should last you for a long time. it is very difficult to paint because it is so slick.

so you really, it’s not that you couldn’t paint it, you can’t paint it. Right. The paint won’t stick. It’ll just peel right off. so they can repaint it at some point. Yeah. but it would be probably less expensive to just replace the window entirely. Got it. And, and that is a 20 year low, paint process.

so it is, and the aluminum cloud world, almost everything is custom or is painted exterior with a similar process. Got it. So, in speaking of the private scope, this was, I, I didn’t. I didn’t, it didn’t really have an option to go with the cheapest because I couldn’t find a single contractor who would, I had somebody who came out and said, Oh, I’ll throw a charge.

You have roughly, I think you said about a thousand dollars a hole or something, you know, go find out where you want to buy your windows and call me back. Okay. Then I was having a hard time finding any, I found a place with windows I liked. They would give me a price, but. Just trying to broker who’s going to measure, who’s going to be responsible for that very expensive product.

I don’t want to take the measurements myself like I don’t want to be the middleman. So I went with the only company that came out in a timely fashion and said, we will take the measurements and we will install your windows, and they hold the bag for everything. This project with these two windows in the upper window is an $8,000 project, so something like $3,000 $3,000 and.

And 2000 for the upstairs window, which I’ll show you. This is about half the size or a little less than that of one of these. So a really expensive project, but that’s a part of why we’re wanting to give a little bit of info for folks who might be looking at similar projects. give you a little bit of background on, this type of wind or this type of type of project, a little bit of insider info on what it might actually cost.

You might be able to find it for cheaper. But at least in this market, I had such a hard time finding someone that I trusted. It’s, It’s a lot of money to spend. I kind of went for when I could see how irresponsible everybody was. I kind of went for the, they were the most expensive, but they were also the only ones who really instilled confidence.

So I thought, well, I’ll spend an extra thousand dollars. Like I maybe could cut corners and make this a handyman plus Sierra, I think it’s called Sierra Pacific, or, they made a really nice looking window. But I could have saved some money if I wanted to, but I just felt like that was one of those opportunities where you think you’re saving money and then five years down the road the windows are fine, but you’ve got leads coming in or something like that.

So I didn’t want to mess with it. Anyway, so I think we’ll wrap up here and thanks for the info and we’ll be back again another time with a slightly different project to talk about.

All right, so here we are outside of my house, looking at one of the two larger windows that they needed to replace. Just so you can kind of see the color. We may talk a little bit. What’s interesting here is that, you can, you can see right here, there’s no trim around the window. And originally there would have been a pretty wide, maybe a six-inch wood trim all the way around and we believe it’s still back there.

Yeah, so it’s buried. It’s buried under the aluminum siding. I don’t love the aluminum siding. I just don’t have the money to deal with it right now. So my hope is that they’re going to come in, rip out this window, trim back, that aluminum to reveal the wood trim, which then I will paint in this sort of dark gray. The new window will come with them with a metal-clad.

This is, this is the part that you can poke your finger into that’s melted, that’s the sash that is in the process of helping as well. So I think it’s going to be, it’s going to be amazing. and about $8,000 from now, hang on a second.

I’m going to show you more of the, the front of the house.

Okay, so now we’re looking at the front of the house from the sidewalk, just to give you a little bit of a of more context for the, for the full project. So it’s this window here, this window over here, the trees in the way of it a little bit, which generally I like, but you can kind of see that that top Gable window.

In the attic. So in order to get the three of them to make sure that they match identically, that the color and the sheen are the same, I decided to go ahead and replace all three, even though the one upstairs technically could have lasted a bit longer. But as long as I’m doing that one, I did make it an opening window.

So, yeah, and the, the exterior trim is really going to make the biggest difference here. The trim is on these original windows is designed to actually. Cover up the weight boxes for the authentic windows that would open and close. So that’s why that big band of trim, you really see a lot of, yeah. But it gives it an, it brings it back to the authentic look of the home where it was originally.

Yeah. It’s always bothered me a little bit to have the way that these windows are kind of, they look a little bit soulless, you know, there’s, there’s no real  weight to them visually. So I’m looking forward to getting something that will kind of frame them a little bit better and set them apart from that white siding.

Yeah. That’s going to be a nice addition. I think so. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shop Windows and Doors LLC, 2020 © All Rights Reserved