Products: Windows and Doors

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorWith the ability to alter the entire look of a building and the power to change the layout of units, windows and doors are certainly critical to a building’s visual appeal.”Six years ago, we saw the move from aluminum [windows] to vinyl as the general trend. Now, we are seeing a trend back towards aluminum,” says R.C. Alley, a partner for Architects Orange, an Orange, Calif.-based architectural and planning firm. “Vinyl has a very limited color selection which may not be appropriate for contemporary projects.”In the past, the problem with aluminum windows was their high thermal conductance. Many new aluminum windows, as well as glass doors, however, now contain thermal breaks, splitting the frame into two components, with a non-conductive material between them. This new system prevents temperature transmittance from the exterior into the units and meets California’s stringent energy requirements, explains Alley.Today’s technology has increased the energy efficiency of many materials. Low-E glass improves a window’s thermal performance, consequently reducing heating costs. Additionally, many windows now contain argon and/or krypton gas, both of which reduce heat transference. Doors are benefiting from the greater emphasis that is now being placed on the entrance. “What you see is a very noticeable shift towards a different proportion; entry doors tend to be higher than they have been in the past,” says Maria de las Mercedes Farrando, director of design services for Boston-based Beacon Communities LLC. Additionally, Farrando notes an increased interest in sliding doors. “They give residents the possibility to customize their spaces,” says Farrando. “They allow residents to seamlessly connect one space to another.”In terms of energy efficiency, Farrando has found that self-closing entry doors are growing in prevalence. “They eliminate excessive filtration of air,” she says.In general, the material used, the number of installed glass panes and the seal’s tightness can impact the green-ness of a door. Fiberglass, wood cladding and steel with a polyurethane core are highly efficient materials. Weather-stripping and tighter fits create seals to remedy the problem of air leakage. An exterior door with a polyurethane foam insulation core requires no additional weatherstripping. Some new frames also include magnetic strips to create tighter fits. Today’s rising energy prices mandate that form follows function. Fortunately, many developers, designers and builders have discovered that there is no need to compromise, as many of today’s products are both practical and visually appealing. Product Picks…With a swiveling exterior, the Ultimate Replacement Casement from Marvin [1] features a wash mode that allows homeowners to clean both the interior and exterior of the window without going outdoors. The window, made with low-E II glass with argon filler and aluminum cladding with a Kynar 500 finish, is available in many configurations, including awning and picture varieties (….Andersen’s Hinged Inswing Patio Door [2] includes French styling and glass fiber construction, while maintaining energy efficiency. Available in both single- and double-panel configurations and white, sandtone or terratone exterior frame finishes, the door features Dual-Pane, Low-E or Low-E Sun tempered glass, adjustable hinges and durable weatherstripping (…With a single frame system, Peachtree’s Avanti steel entry door [3] reduces air and water penetration. The door, which is free of CFCs, is available in 6’8″ and 8′ heights with a choice of standard, spring-loaded or commercial ball bearing hinges, as well as seven finishes: Polished Brass, Antique Brass, Oil-Rubbed, Brushed Nickel, Polished Chrome, Brushed Chrome and White (…Suited for entry doors, Timely’s new fixed throat kerf frame [4] reduces light, sound and smoke transmission. The frame is made of 18-gauge steel and is available in six stocking and 29 custom colors ( comment on this article, e-mail Diana Mosher at