Windows: Contemporary Considerations

Manufacturers produce windows with substantial viewing areas, darker exterior colors and superior performance characteristics to satisfy the market.

authors Kyle Clapham 

The demand for larger windows continues to grow as homeowners desire better views and more natural light. In response, manufacturers have increased the size of their units, which use narrow frames and bigger panes of glass to render cleaner sightlines. An interest in darker finishes has also spurred many companies to expand their palettes with colors such as black and dark bronze.

Once windows enlarge, however, they typically sacrifice energy efficiency because the glass needs to cover additional surface area. As manufacturers develop new products, they must test the units for insulating performance and assess whether the windows could withstand the impact of severe weather. In addition, consumers now expect automated technology that integrates with their smart home.

Large but efficient

Marvin Windows and Doors offers a wide selection of customizable windows in expansive sizes that retain performance values, says Kris Hanson, senior manager, product management for The Marvin Family of Brands. The Marvin Ultimate Double Hung Next Generation window, for example, comes in sizes up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, with a Performance Grade rating of 50 (PG50) available on most sizes, he adds.

Marvin Windows and Doors

“Homeowners continue to request bigger windows, and we don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon,” Hanson notes. The Marvin Ultimate Casement window, the largest operating wood-clad casement in the industry, can reach sizes up to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The Marvin Contemporary Casement, which features a flush exterior frame and sash as well as a narrow frame for larger views and streamlined sightlines, delivers up to a PG50 rating, he says.

Western Window Systems, a custom aluminum window and door manufacturer, can be a single source for remodeling projects, says Ty Cranford, architectural director. The company’s classic line of products contains just about every window and door makeup possible, he notes, and its new performance line improves on the classic line with Insulbar technology and Cardinal glass.

Western Window Systems

“Under the Insulbar brand name, we produce insulating profiles for the thermal separation of our frames. The Insulbar thermal insulation profile helps reduce energy consumption significantly and drives down both cooling and heating costs,” Cranford explains. Western Window provides a wide variety of insulated glass to maximize efficiency as well, and the most popular makeups include Cardinal 366, a triple-coated low-E glass, and Cardinal 270, a double-coated low-E glass.

Andersen Windows & Doors also has multiple high-performance glass options, says Tom Pugh, senior business manager. “Most people can enjoy optimal energy performance and comfort with our standard low-E/low-E4 glass offerings. Low-E glass reflects heat in the summer and helps keep heat inside in the winter, making this a good choice in climates where both heating and cooling costs are a concern,” he adds.

Andersen Windows & Doors

Additional options include SmartSun glass, which blocks 95 percent of harmful UV rays, and PassiveSun glass that brings heat from sunlight into the home. The new Easy Connect Joining System for A-Series products, moreover, allows contractors to construct monumental window combinations. This patented system utilizes interlocking joining plates pre-applied to smaller, factory- assembled sub-groups that join together as they are installed in the rough opening.

“It also offers the design flexibility of achieving both one-way and two-way combinations without compromising performance,” Pugh notes. “Most contractors surveyed said they could reduce the number of installers by 50 percent using the Andersen Easy Connect Joining System.”

The darker the better

Windsor Windows & DoorsWindsor Windows & Doors recently expanded manufacturing space and purchased equipment so it could produce larger windows, says Cathy Leonard, marketing communications. The company also has the capability now to paint the interior of its windows before they leave the facility. This development enables Windsor to meet the burgeoning demand for contemporary design finishes.

“We continuously work to improve our products. Some are more visible changes, like offering new cladding colors or hardware finishes,” she adds. “Black has been very popular, on both the interior and exterior. In our wood-clad windows, we offer a smooth flat black finish as well as a textured black finish. We now even offer black interiors and exteriors on our vinyl windows.”

Ply Gem Windows has seen a significant increase in demand for its Mira wood clad windows, which allow homeowners to choose from more than 40 exterior colors, says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing. “We’ve been seeing more and more interest in bold color window exteriors: deep bronzes, black, grays and earth-tone shades,” he notes.

Ply Gem Windows

The Ply Gem 1500 Vinyl Brickmould Collection incorporates popular black and dark bronze co-extruded vinyl exterior options, combined with neutral white interiors that complement a variety of design themes. This year, the company will introduce a new Dove Grey co-extruded exterior color for the 1500 Vinyl Brickmould Collection, Montgomery adds.

Weather Shield released 10 new furniture-grade stain finishes from Sherwin-Willliams this year to address the trend toward darker colors, says Brandon Budimlija, associate product manager. A premium Italian topcoat from Sayerlack provides a durable finish with non-yellowing properties that further protect and enhance the beauty of windows and doors for years to come, he explains.

Weather Shield

“Not only are these high-quality, furniture-grade stain offerings beautiful, but they are extremely durable,” Budimlija notes. “Finishes like Rich Coffee and Ebony are great examples of popular colors. Gray tones are also growing in popularity due to their sophisticated characteristics. Our new designer stain color Greystone fits this trend.”

The company also has developed Weather Shield Premium Coastal products to help homeowners protect against the severe weather associated with coastal climates. Without these impact-rated windows, flying debris can tear through the residence and cause catastrophic, structural failure, Budimlija says. “Other issues that homeowners may experience by not choosing impact-rated glass include higher insurance premiums, lower resale value, less UV protection and higher noise levels during larger weather events,” he adds.

Resisting impact


Pella has made the home as close to hurricane-proof as possible with impact-resistant windows in its HurricaneShield line of products, says Polly Tousey, director of product management. An exceptionally strong polymer interlayer sandwiched between two sheets of glass reinforce the windows, and the interlayer holds the glass together if it shatters, preventing damage and injury.

When strong, hurricane winds enter a residence through broken windows or doors, the increased pressure can lift off the roof and push out the structure. HurricaneShield products withstand an impact equivalent to a 2-by-4 traveling at 50 feet per second, according to the company. Because the interlayer cannot be easily penetrated, even if the glass shatters, HurricaneShield windows also can help impede forced entry.

MI Windows recently launched a comprehensive impact-rated product family enhanced with the StormArmor impact-resistant package, says Anthony Matter, director of marketing. The product line represents the most robust and well-rounded impact offering the company has ever had, and the window units include the 1620 single hung, 1630 single slider, and the 1675 and 9770 casements.

“Offering products that help keep homes safe and secure during a violent storm is not only a good business practice, but it’s also part of our civic duty to provide solutions that are good for communities and the people who live in them,” Matter explains.

MI Windows

“Additionally, impact-rated windows [can] help reduce the burden of preparing for an oncoming storm,” he notes. “Homeowners and contractors don’t need to apply exterior shutters or plywood to protect their windows because they are already rated for impact. This is especially important for vacation homes, where the owners may not be on-site when a storm arrives.”

The Marvin StormPlus and Integrity IMPACT lines provide several window options specifically designed to withstand destructive coastal elements without sacrificing beautiful design features, Hanson says. The Marvin Ultimate Double Hung Next Generation, in particular, is certified for Impact Zone 3 (IZ3) and has reinforced frames, laminated glass, corrosion-resistant exterior parts and a Design Pressure (DP) rating up to 65.

Marvin Windows and Doors

“Living in coastal areas offers breathtaking views thanks to Mother Nature, but it also brings harsh elements, including high winds, severe temperatures, damaging rain and withering salt, that need to be considered,” Hanson adds. “Homeowners shouldn’t have to sacrifice views, which is why hurricane impact-rated windows are necessary for coastal homes.”

This year, the company introduced the Marvin Home Automation Lock Status Sensor, which integrates seamlessly with just about any security system and lets homeowners know whether their windows are open or closed and locked or unlocked. The installation process proves easy and intuitive because of the prep work done in the factory, eliminating the need to drill into the unit and jeopardize the warranty.

Technology at home

Andersen also offers a smart home solution with its wireless Verilock Security Sensors, which indicate if windows are open or closed and locked or unlocked. Closed but unlocked windows lose air at a rate up to three times of a closed and locked window, according to the company’s website.

Insynctive Technology from Pella encompasses both security sensors and motorized window shades with home automation systems. The built-in sensors remain hidden and unseen, and a solar panel charging pack helps power the motorized window shading.


Milgard developed its own innovation with the SmartTouch window lock that enables people to live independently in their own homes longer and more comfortably, says Brent Wright, product manager. Incorporated into the window sash for a sleek, low-profile design, the mechanism needs only one smooth, single motion to open or close the window and lock it—with no pinching, squeezing or twisting required. When the handle is down, the window remains locked, making use easier. | QR

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