I had a time deciding if this was a business or architectural millwork question. We make windows and doors. Literally every time I try to reach out to present our work to architects and such I get asked "are your windows clad?" They're not, and on finding that out I can see them check out and the conversation ends. I would like to be able to serve these type of customers a product they can use and believe in. So it seems my options are:
1-convince them all wood windows are still a viable product.
2-develop an aluminum clad product.
Iíve been trying to do number 1 for a decade with very limited success. Its almost like our product is a novelty and or only appropriate for very specific historic restoration projects.
I've looked into developing a clad product and decided extrusions are the way to go over roll formed. It seems like a guy could source the extrusions like any other piece of hardware but Iíve been looking for a long time and have found basically nothing. Iíve contacted custom aluminum extruders and I wouldnít say the cost is prohibitive but its certainly a risk, and it means id have to up my volume, which means Id have to think about getting a product NFRC rated before too long.
so either help me convince customers all wood is good or help me find aluminum cladding.
Personally, I wouldn't buy all wood windows for my home. Modern cut wood does not have the endurance of old growth. With all the composite and vinyl siding options, seems odd to put an all wood windows in the same wall. What kind of life expectancy do you give your windows? I know, that's based on proper painting and maintenance. But what is it in the real world?
There is a nitch market for wood windows in this country. Generally on the very high end and historic projects. Vinyl and plastic windows look pretty out of place on log, stone and old buildings. There are many options for durable timber, unfortunately the big window companies gave wood a bad name by using sap wood that rotted easily a few years back.
Check out the link from the UK.
What type window do you build? Off the shelf cladding is tooling driven.
I agree with Rich. No way would I buy an all wood window. With the aluminum and vinyl you have a builtin flashing and easier to install. The large window manufacturers are buying the extruded aluminum from someone. Dig a little deeper.
Like you, we also make wooden windows and doors, but we live in an historic town that requires wooden windows in a large part of the market. We have also found that restoring historic, old-growth wood windows complements our business and we have invested in the right equipment and knowledge to do it efficiently.
According to the National Historic Preservation Council, the average life of replacement windows, of all types, is 14.2 years. And I'm assuming that the window manufacturers like that just fine.
Extruded cladding that allows for an air gap and avoids the problems of rolled cladding only works on casement and tilt turn, not sliding box sash windows. That will take you in the direction of European designed windows.
The Alpine Technical workshops that Joe Calhoon leads, along with Rangate, would be an excellent place to start.
Properly maintained wood windows made of quality hard woods should last for many decades as well as provide superb aesthetics and pleasure in use.
I'm a professional architectural woodworker/finish carpenter. I've made hundreds of historic correct doors & windows in my 20 year career. I've installed miles of clapboards and exterior trim on average houses to mansions.
If I was to build my own house today. I would use pvc clad windows, pvc clad doors, and a wood entrance door if its protected.
As for siding painted cedar clapboards it is out of the question. Just the thought of wasting all of the trees, prepping the boards, 3 coats of expensive acrylic paint plus all of the labor. Then 8-10 years later the labor, material, and pollution all over again.
At the very least switching to a Hardie fiber cement product is vastly superior for holding the paint. You could also go pvc trim and weather cedar shakes Nantucket style.
The other option would be some higher end pvc shakes. 6 feet away you wouldn't know the difference, except they look like the best painted shakes you've ever seen.
I would not clad a wood window in aluminum. Only pvc.
Historic all the way or somebody who can afford the maintenance is the go for wood windows. Wood doors will always have a place.
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