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Windows are an important component of a home. In addition to enhancing the esthetic beauty of the house, windows can provide fresh air and ventilation to the home, allow daylighting to brighten interior spaces and keep out harsh outdoor elements (wind, rain, snow).
Buying new windows can be a daunting task, especially for the uninitiated. Knowing the type of window best suited for your home and geographic location can help you choose a window that reduces direct drafts from air leakage and the potential for damage from water leaks. It’s important to understand how windows perform with respect to these factors. Equally important, knowing what to look for in a window can help you avoid buying something you don’t need.
The ABC’s of Window Performance
The performance of windows sold in Canada is defined in a Canadian Standards Association standard called CSA A440 (Windows). This standard sets the type of materials that are to be used in the manufacture of windows and some minimum material properties, such as thickness, hardness and durability. The A440 Standard also defines minimum performance levels for windows evaluated under a standardized set of conditions. The characteristics defined in the A440 Standard include:
- Wind load resistance*
- Ease of operation
- Resistance to forced entry
- Condensation resistance
- Screen strength
All windows sold in Canada must be evaluated for their performance level in airtightness, watertightness and wind load resistance — the characteristics marked with an asterisk (*) in the list above. This About Your House focuses primarily on these characteristics. Evaluating windows for the other characteristics is voluntary, so not all windows are evaluated for their ability to resist, for example, forced entry.
A — Air Leakage
Why is an Air Leakage Standard so Important?
The uncontrolled movement of air into or out of the house is a cost to the homeowner. For example, any cold outdoor air that leaks into the home (air infiltration) must be heated to room temperature to maintain the comfort of the occupants, so air infiltration is a heating cost. The same problem occurs in air-conditioned homes during the summer, when warm outdoor air infiltrates, resulting in an additional cooling load.
When interior-conditioned air (either heated for winter or cooled for summer) leaks to the outside, the homeowner also pays the energy costs associated with the air leakage.
Windows are tested for air leakage by applying a standardized air pressure (roughly equivalent to a 40 km/h — 25 mph — wind) across a window of a standard size. The amount of air that leaks through the window at that pressure difference is measured.
Depending on the test result, windows are given one of the following airtightness performance ratings:
- A1 (somewhat leaky),
- A2 (slightly leaky), or
- A3 (not very leaky).
In general, fixed windows tend to have higher airtightness performance ratings because they allow less air to pass through the unit than windows that open and shut. Slider windows tend to be leakier than casement windows. All windows sold in Canada must at least meet the A1 performance level to comply with local building codes.
A higher A rating is a desirable attribute for a window if your home is located in a region known to have frequent high winds or gusty winds.
The rated performance only indicates the window’s leakiness relative to other products evaluated. Installation procedures, manufacturing tolerances and other factors also contribute to performance of an installed window. Window units are not evaluated when installed in a wall, so a window rated at a specific performance level may not perform at that level when installed.
Window rating programs are intended to allow consumers to compare similar products, not to predict, for example, air leakage rates. The thinking is that, if one window has a better airtightness rating than another, it will have less air leakage when installed.
B — Resistance to Wind-driven Rain
Windows may also allow water to leak into the house during rainstorms, leading to water damage of interior finishes and potential mold growth. Because of this, all windows sold in Canada are evaluated for their ability to resist water leakage and for resistance to wind-driven rain. Water is continuously sprayed onto the outside of a standard-sized window under standard temperature and air pressure conditions.
The window is rated in accordance with the highest air-pressure level for which no water leakage occurs.
A B1 rating is assigned to a window that exhibits no water leakage at a relatively low air-pressure difference across the window. It is the lowest permissible result.
All windows sold in Canada must meet at least the B1 rating to comply with local building codes.
Every rating number above B1 represents the highest air-pressure condition for which no water leakage occurs. For example, a window rated B4 that shows no water leakage at a test pressure of 400 pascals (Pa) — the metric unit of pressure — presumably leaks at higher pressures.
The highest possible rating in the A440 Standard for resistance to wind-driven rain is B7, equivalent to a window resisting water leakage at wind speeds greater than 120 km/h (75 mph.) — a high-performance product.
As noted for air leakage, the B rating does not necessarily indicate the performance of the product as installed. It should only be used to compare products. The B rating is a very important performance index in coastal climates, where wind-driven rain is relatively common. A window rated B2 would be the minimum advisable for low-rise houses (typically four stories or less) in most of Canada, except for the areas mentioned in Table 1.
Table 1 — Suggested Minimum Ratings for Wind-driven Rain Resistance
|For most of Canada||B2|
|Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands||B5|
|Western Vancouver Island||B4|
|Eastern Vancouver Island and north coast of B.C.||B3|
|Southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan||B3|
|St. Lawrence Valley, east Baffin Island, east New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, central Newfoundland||B3|
|Gaspé, Prince Edward Island, Gulf of St. Lawrence, coastal Labrador, coastal Newfoundland||B4|
The above B ratings are appropriate for low-rise residences in relatively sheltered areas, and are only a suggested minimum. Building height, shape and location, such as on hilltops, promontories or bluffs, can increase the effect of wind-driven rain, so that higher B ratings are advised. In new construction or replacement of existing windows, it is advisable to discuss and choose the window rating levels with a design professional.
C — Wind Resistance
Windows are also tested for their ability to resist wind pressures without deforming too much and without blowing out of their frames. Test windows are subjected to a large air-pressure difference to simulate hurricane-force winds (120 km/h and higher). The resulting deformation of the framing components is measured, with the window receiving a rating ranging from C1 — deflection or blowout of the window at gale-force winds (62 – 74 km/h — 39 – 46 mph.) — to C5 — resistance to extremely high wind pressures without blowout or permanent deformation. Windows rated C5 are appropriate for some high-rise buildings, or for low-rise buildings in very windy climates.
A window rated C2 is the minimum advisable for low-rise houses in most of Canada, except for the areas in the Table 2.
Table 2 — Suggested Minimum Ratings for Wind Resistance
|For most of Canada||C2|
|Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands, western Vancouver Island||C3|
|Alberta south of High River, except Cardston area (see below)||C3|
|Cardston area of Alberta||C4|
|Lower St. Lawrence Valley (Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Matane), western Prince Edward Island, western Cape Breton Island, east Baffin Island, Labrador, Newfoundland (see exceptions below)||C3|
|Cape Race, Gaspé region, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Resolution Island, Coral Harbour||C4|
The above C ratings are suggested for low-rise houses in relatively sheltered areas. They are typical values for the regions listed. Building height, shape and location, such as on hilltops, promontories or bluffs, increase the effect of wind pressures, so higher C ratings are advised. Higher ratings are also suggested if local wind conditions are higher than the average values for the regions listed. Typical wind-pressure levels for the regions listed (upon which the suggested C ratings are based) are taken from meteorological data valid for the location of the meteorological station. There may be, for example, regions in the Gaspé or in southern Alberta for which C5 ratings would be advisable.
Manufacturers may, but are not required to, have their windows tested for ease of operation, resistance to forced entry, condensation and screen strength.
Ease of Operation
Many operable windows are tested to ensure that their operation is relatively smooth, with no jamming of operator mechanisms. The amount of force required to turn operator cranks or slide windows open and closed is measured in the test and cannot exceed set levels.
As is always the case with standardized testing, however, the performance of the product sold may vary slightly from the rated value. The CSA Standard only indicates whether a window model meets or does not meet the requirements of this (voluntary) portion of the test. Consumers are encouraged to test window operation for themselves, noting that showroom models may have been opened and closed many times, and that dealers are unlikely to display products that do not operate properly.
Over time, gaskets and seals will tend to wear, so that window operation will become easier, but the window will also tend to leak more air and water.
Resistance to Forced Entry
The CSA Window Standard includes a test method to determine a window’s resistance to forced entry, but consumers are advised not to rely entirely on this rating for security of their person and property. A consumer-rating index is no substitute for normal precautions against unwanted or unlawful entry.
The CSA procedure contains standardized test methods to evaluate a window’s tendency to allow condensation to form on the glazing or framing members under winter conditions. Condensation, due to air leakage or heat loss through the unit itself, can damage adjacent building materials or cause fungal growth.
The warning that rated performance is different from actual performance of products sold is never more important than with this index. A wide range of variables can influence the formation of condensation, including:
- air leakage, through the window and around its perimeter;
- relative humidity of the interior air (the higher the humidity the greater the potential for condensation);
- where the window is installed in the wall (windows installed farther to the outside of the wall tend to exhibit more condensation);
- the presence (or absence) of convection heaters below the window;
- placing objects (plants, photographs, books, and so on) on the windowsill tends to restrict air movement on the window and thus promotes condensation.
Condensation resistance of windows has an index called the Temperature Factor (TF). The TF can be thought of as an indication of whether the interior surface temperatures are more like the interior or the exterior. If the interior surface temperatures of the window were the same as the outdoor temperature, the TF would be 0; if the interior surfaces of the window were as warm as the room air, the TF would be 100.
If a window is tested for condensation resistance, the minimum level required to meet the A440 performance standard is TF 40. This is approximately equivalent to a double-glazed window with a thermally broken metal frame. Higher ratings are suggested for humid climates, for example, near lakeshores, oceans or in river valleys.
Higher ratings may also be necessary in homes where interior relative humidity levels are higher than average — for example, where frequent showers are taken, or an unusually large number of plants are maintained, or food preparation involves large quantities of boiling water. However, in situations where high indoor humidity levels are expected, it may be more appropriate to address that issue directly (for example, by installing a dehumidifier or exhaust fan) rather than buying condensation-resistant windows.
Operable windows usually feature a screen over the open portion of the window to keep insects outside. Depending on the force that can be applied without separating the screen from the frame, the screen is rated as either “Standard” or “Heavy Duty.” It is important to note that the screen strength test is only designed to determine the ability of the screen to resist nominal loads. An insect screen is neither a fall-prevention device nor an anti-theft feature: it is only intended to keep insects out.
Windows must be carefully selected to meet your needs. They must be suitable for resisting certain environmental exposures (such as rain and wind) and be within your budget. It takes care for the average homeowner and many professionals to make the best selection.
All windows sold in Canada must be evaluated for three key performance criteria, commonly referred to as the A-B-C window ratings.
- A — airtightness (levels A1 to A3)
- B — water resistance (levels B1 to B7)
- C — wind resistance (levels C1 to C5)
Generally speaking, the higher the numbers, the better the window performance. Choose a rating level that satisfies the environmental conditions of your home. Determine if any of the voluntary performance criteria are required for your window(s) and if they meet the required standards.
This is a list of available energy efficient options available for all our windows. Improve the energy efficiencies of your home and lower your heat bills.
Argon gas is placed between the panes of glass in a sealed unit to ensure that less energy is transferred through it. This helps improve the energy rating of the sealed unit, keeping you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Edgetech and SuperSpacer®
Edgetech I.G. manufactures Super Spacer, a line of thermal resistant, flexible insulating glass edge-seal products that provide maximum condensation resistance, durability and energy performance.
Westeck windows are edged with SuperSpacer which help reduce energy costs by up to 38 percent!
Read more about SuperSpacer.
Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC)
Read more about the Efficient Windows Collaborative (EWC), your gateway to information on how to choose energy-efficient windows.
Maximum tempered sizes by thickness
Standard spacer bar thickness for our Wood Windows and our 2000 Series Slider Windows is 1/2″, for our Combo Windows and our 4000 Series Casement windows the spacer bar thickness is 5/8″.
Westeck assumes no responsibility for glass left at our facility for over 10 days.
Insulated Glass Sizing Chart
Westeck is not responsible for customer’s own glass at any time during insulation, fabrication, tempering, loading/unloading, transportation or storage. All claims for damaged or defective goods must be made within 48 hours of receipt. Westeck assumes no responsibility for breakage of any kind, after the customer receives the order. Freight damage by common carrier must be claimed against the freight company. Westeck assumes no responsibly for third party freight damage.
For safety identification, Westeck uses a logo on all heat treated glass. If your application does not require a logo, you must indicate on each order that you place with us. Westeck assumes no responsibility for code compliance on glass that has been ordered without logo’s.
Westeck views pinhead as having no specific pattern orientation and cuts accordingly.
When ordering shapes, always list: BASE x LEFT x RIGHT x TOP. Westeck assumes without exception, that glass is measured and ordered from the outside looking into the building. Cutting tolerances are: +/- 1/16″…3-6MM, +/- 1/8″…8-12MM, +/- 3/16″…15-19MM
Cleaning the Window
When cleaning Westeck Windows use the mildest cleaners’ possible. NEVER use solvents, abrasives, or acid based cleansers on or near the product. Some chemicals can harm vinyl and other window components. NEVER use hydrochloric or muriatic acid based cleaners – i.e. ‘brickwash’ on or around the product. These acids can be very harmful to hardware, reinforcing, and glass. Doing this will void the warranty.
You can clean the glass with any common household glass cleaner or mild detergent. DO NOT use any petroleum-based cleansers or solvent. We recommend using soft lint free cloths; paper towel is fine too. Be aware that soil deposits may contain abrasive elements and vigorous wiping, scrubbing may cause scratching or damage to the glass surface. After the soil is removed, all soap or cleaning solution and dirt debris must be thoroughly rinsed off the glass. Rinse and dry all cleaning solution from widow gaskets, sealants, and frames. On the area where the lable was removed from the glass, water may ‘bead up’ for a time.
You should not add any attachments to the window or glass without the manufacturer approval. Doing this may void the warranty.
Be aware that exposure to hard water or sea air may result in mineral deposits on your Westeck Glass. Prolonged exposure may damage glass surface. If it does not rinse away, ensure this is cleaned by hand as soon as it is noticed. Hard water mineral deposits from any source, including overspray from lawn and garden sprinkler systems may build up over time and that can permanently damage the glass; therefore, we recommend you do not expose your glass to repeated contact with any hard water sources. If your Westeck Glass is subjected to hard water exposure, it should be promptly dried/cleaned with a cloth to avoid spotting, streaking or damage.
As with any glass:
- DO NOT use scrapers or razor blades to remove stubborn deposits or lables
- DO NOT use abrasive cleaning solutions such as Ajax® or Comet®
- DO NOT allow splashed materials such as paint, stucco, mortar, or drywall putty/gyproc dust to dry or remain on the window frame, window seals, or glass surface.
Cleaning the Window Frames:
Keeping your windows and doors clean is more than just the glass. Here are some helpful tips for cleaning vinyl frames and sashes of your Westeck Windows and Doors effectively without damaging them.
- Clean window and door frames with a mixture of mild dish detergent and water.
- Abrasive cleaners or solvents are never recommended because they might cause permanent damage to frame finishes. Mild non-abrasive soaps are usually safest for most dirt and stain removal.
- Always rinse completely with clear water and wipe dry.
- Ensure drainage holes are always clear of dirt and debris that might obstruct free flow of water, both inside and outside of the window or door in the bottom of the frame and sash.
During and after construction, the product should be protected from spills, runoff, and over-spray from common building materials: Installation sealants, paints, and drywall/gyproc putty or dust should be removed promptly.
Every 6 months to one year thoroughly clean hardware and hardware points of contact in casements and awnings as well as tracks in slider and patio door profiles. Spray a silicone lubricant on hardware points of contact (casements) and inside tracks, bottom and top of slider and patio door profiles. Check all drainholes, inside and out, and ensure they are clean and free of obstruction(s). Check all weatherstrips and bulbseals for tears, or looseness and replace/reinsert if found.
Periodic condensation on windows is normal, particularly in cold weather. However, hidden condensation can become a significant problem if not corrected. This Guide to Energy Management will help you recognize the sources of excessive condensation and take action to remedy the problem.
What is condensation?
Air in the home is actually a mixture of air and invisible water vapor. The average family produces 10 to 50 litres of moisture a day from activities like cooking, bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry. Condensation is the conversion of the water vapor into a liquid and usually happens when the vapor cools. The temperature at which the vapor begins to condense is called the dew point. Condensation occurs whenever warm, moist air comes in contact with a surface or object cold enough to chill the moisture in the air below its dew point.
As a rule, the coolest visible surfaces in a home will be the cold water pipes, windows, and hinges and locks on exterior doors. It is on these surfaces that condensation first becomes apparent. However, condensation may also occur in areas where it is not visible such as in the attic and exterior walls.
Condensation on windows may be little more than a nuisance, but condensation on walls and ceilings can cause paint to peel. Hidden condensation can lead to problems that range from mould, mildew, and stains on walls and ceilings, to dry rot and destruction of a wood frame structure.
Condensation on windows
Windows are one of the coldest surfaces in a house. Condensation forms on a window when the temperature of the glass is below the dew point of the air and the warm air that contacts it cools rapidly. Like glass, metal is also a poor insulator. If the window has a metal frame, condensation also occurs on the frame.
Hidden condensation can occur when warm moist air migrates into the walls, attic, or other interior areas of the structure. Most of the moisture is carried into walls and attics by air leaking through openings for plumbing, piping, electrical boxes and wires, gaps between framing and drywall, attic hatches and other openings.
If at some area in the wall or attic, the moist air encounters a temperature below the dew point, condensation will occur. Moisture inside the walls may also cause blistering of paint on exterior siding. New housing is required to have a continuous vapor barrier, sealed at all penetrations. This requirement is intended to prevent, or at least severely inhibit, hidden condensation
If the temperature is low enough, moisture may deposit as ice or frost. If the amount of moisture is small, it may change back into water vapor with a rise in temperature and be carried away by natural air movement. However, large deposits of ice will melt and soak insulation materials, ruin interior and exterior finishes and possibly lead to structural deterioration.
Causes and solutions
Activities such as cooking, washing or bathing will often result in some condensation on windows for short periods of time during cold weather. Other than causing deterioration of the finish on wood frames, sills or casings, such condensation is harmless. Therefore, moderate, intermittent condensation on windows is probably no cause for alarm. However, if windows are consistently wet, or water stains appear on ceilings or walls, prompt action should be taken to avoid further problems.
The quickest and most effective response to a condensation problem is to increase the ventilation of the house. This can be done in several ways:
- Using exhaust fans, particularly when cooking, bathing or washing
- Opening the fireplace damper
- Opening doors and windows to increase the amount of outdoor air being brought into the house
Outdoor air, when heated to indoor temperatures, will be dryer than the air indoors. Increased ventilation will reduce condensation, but it doesn’t correct the cause. The cause should be located and corrected.
NOTE: Installing a dehumidifier does not solve overall home humidity problems, it is only capable of lowering the relative humidity to 50 or 60%.
Conventional wisdom has it that PVC is not paintable. Is that a reasonable statement? Had Westeck not already been painting uPVC for eight years we’d say the same thing. So: Can PVC be painted?
The fact is that uPVC and cPVC (PVC from here on) are difficult to paint. The reason is, is that PVC has a low surface energy. All materials and liquids have a “surface energy”. The scientific unit of surface energy is Dynes/Centimeter. For purposes of discussion we will talk about the surface energy, SE, of water and how it relates to PVC.
Water has a surface energy of 72DYNE (DYNE is short for Dynes/Centimeter) and PVC has a surface energy of 41DYNE (list of the surface energy of various polymers). Since water has a higher surface energy (SE) than PVC, it will bead up and roll of like: “water-on-aducks- back”. In order for the water to “stick” or “wet out” onto PVC, PVC has to be treated to rise the SE of the PVC above the SE of water. Can this be done? By the average consumer? …well…no…but don’t give up yet, and read on… The average consumer can do two things to increase the SE of PVC, the first of which is to sand the surface lightly. This will remove the surface waxes to the degree and create more area for the water to wet out. We recommend you use Green Scotch Brite because sand paper will load up very quickly with the surface waxes on the PVC, this raises the SE. The second way to raise the SE is to wipe the PVC with Acetone. Acetone is detrimental to PVC. If one were to immerse PVC in Acetone, it would break down the molecular structure over time and destroy the PVC. This, however, can be a benefit when preparing PVC for painting. The Acetone does two things: (1) it swells the surface making it slightly more porous and (2) it disperses the surface waxes that are inherent on the surface from the extrusion process when it is manufactured. So, Acetone will also raise the SE of the PVC.
There is another piece of the equation that has to be considered. Even if a consumer prepares the surface as described, the SE of PVC will never reach the SE of water (with these techniques) which is 72DYNE and with all the best preparation, the SE of the PVC will be variable due to the waxes that are external and internal to the PVC. To combat this, paints made of a blend of acrylic and polyurethane, (i.e. special latex paints) have been formulated with additives to reduce the SE of the liquid paint. These additives reduce the SE of PVC paints down to 34DYNE which is lower than the untreated SE of PVC.
In theory one would not have to treat the PVC if the paint has a surface energy below the PVC; but there’s a problem with theory – reality. Empirical results suggest a combination of good surface preparation and a paint coating with a low SE can result in good adhesion of paint to PVC.
There is a lot more to it than that: the paint formulation is actually a cacophony of chemistry. Every micro ingredient and every pigment change can change the adhesion of the liquid paint to the PVC substrate but that’s beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that the paints developed for PVC niche have been tested for adhesion on PVC each and every time a change is made to the formulation.
Yet another layer of the Onion to remove
At Westeck we subject the PVC to a flame treat process that can raise the surface energy from 42DYNE to above that of Waters 72DYNE.
To try to better explain it. When the surface energy of PVC is raised to this type of energy be thought of as “micro anchors points’ to which the paint can adhere.
In our flame treat process, we subject the PVC to a very lean burn flame of natural gas. The temperature of the flame is roughly 5000°F. At these temperatures a low temperature plasma is created. In effect the excess oxygen in the flame is heated to the point of ionization. Which means that the oxygen loses an electron and becomes a positive ion. In this state the oxygen is very very reactive and wants to bond to another atom or molecule. In our process the 0+ is introduced next to the PVC and bonds to the PVC. The result is the surface energy of the PVC is raised tremendously. There is another benefit of the flame process which is to remove the surface waxes on the PVC raising the surface energy of the PVC.
So, whew… there you have it. PVC can be painted but it has to be prepared correctly and it needs to (note: I said needs to, not has to) be painted with paints that are formulated for PVC. At Westeck we also put reflective pigments in the paint so that the PVC will not rise above it’s distortion temperature of 140°F. (note: for dark colors PVC has to have reflective pigments)
With our reflective pigment paint you can paint your windows with black paint and not have distortion issues –
At Westeck Windows and Doors we have merged the markets between Clad-Wood windows and Vinyl windows. Take a look at the picture, this window looks exactly like a contemporary aluminum-clad or vinyl-clad wood window but now you can get better performance at a fraction of the cost.
Can PVC be painted: ABSOLUTELY and it’s guaranteed for 10 years!!
Original article by Abe Gaskin MGM Industries June 2011
AAMA: American Architectural Manufacturers Association, a national trade association that establishes voluntary standards for the window, door, and skylight industry.
Acrylic: Thermoplastic glazing material in sheets and sealants.
Aerogel: A micro-porous, transparent silicate foam currently under development for potential use as a glazing cavity fill material, offering very high thermal performance.
Air infiltration: The amount of air leaking in and out of a building through cracks in walls, windows, and doors.
Airspacer: Component fitted around the perimeter of an insulating glass unit to separate the two lites of glass.
ANSI: American National Standards Institute, a clearinghouse organization for all types of standards and product specifications.
Annealed glass: Standard float glass.
Arch-top: One of several terms used for a variety of window units with one or more curved frame members, often used over another window or door opening. Also referred to as eyebrows.
Argon: An inert, nontoxic gas used in insulating glass to reduce heat transfer.
Astragal: Center post between two swinging doors
ASTM: International: Formerly, the American Society for Testing and Materials, a trade association that establishes material standards (including glass) and test methods. It has also produced a window installation standard.
Awning: Window with sash swinging outward from bottom.
Backbedding: Sealant used to bond the glass to a window sash.
Balance: Mechanical device (normally spring loaded) used in single- and double-hung windows as a means of counterbalancing the weight of the sash during opening and closing. Popular designs include coil spring or constant force, block and tackle, and spiral balancers.
Bay Window: A combination of three window units, which projects to the exterior. Usually features a large center unit with two flanking units at 30% or 45% angles to the wall.
Bottom rail: The bottom horizontal member of a window sash or door panel.
Bow Window: A combination window, which projects to the exterior. Usually features four or more window units in a radial or bow formation.
Box bay: A combination of three window units, which projects to the exterior. Usually features a large center unit with two flanking units at 90% angles to the wall.
Breather Tube or Capillary Tube: A tube placed through airspacer and seal of insulating glass that allows sealed unit to “breathe”, accommodating differentials in pressure between elevation of manufacture and elevation of installation. Breather tubes are designed to be crimped and sealed upon installation at final elevation. Capillary tubes are designed to permit restricted diffusion without required crimping, and are therefore more popular with residential window producers. Neither tube should be used with argon gas. Usually used to accommodate changes in altitude between plant and job site.
Brick mould: A type of external casing for windows and doors.
Caming: The metal, typically lead or zinc, used in the construction of decorative glass panels, it is also tape-applied to single glass lites to create a decorative glass look.
Casement: Window with sash cranking outward to right or left.
Casing: Exposed moulding or profile around a window or door, on either the inside of outside, to cover the space between the window frame or doorjamb and the wall.
Caulking: A compound, commonly 100% silicone, for filling joints and sealing cracks to prevent leakage of water and air.
Cellular PVC: A composite of materials featuring polyvinyl chloride material used in window and door components and trim that features a cell-structure. It can be nailed, sawed, and fabricated like wood.
Cellulosic composite: Generally, a material combining an organic material, such as wood fiber, extruded with plastic.
Check rail: The bottom rail on the upper sash and the upper rail of the lower sash of a double-hung window unit, where the lock is mounted. Also referred to as a meeting rail.
Circle-top: One of several terms used for a variety of window units with one or more curved frame members, often used over another window or door opening. Also referred to as circle-heads and round-tops.
Cladding: Material placed on the exterior of wood frame and sash components to provide ease of maintenance. Common cladding materials include vinyl and extruded or roll-formed aluminum.
Clerestory: A window in the upper part of a high-ceilinged room that admits light to the center of the room.
Combination door: A screen or storm door that features a combination of screen and glass panels.
Composite: A term used for window or door components, which consist of two or more materials, such as wood and plastic. The term also is loosely used for windows and doors which combine two or more materials in the frame or sash construction, such as a product with a wood interior and a vinyl or aluminum exterior.
Condensation: Water vapor from the air deposited on any cold surface, which has a temperature below the dew point. Sometimes seen on cold (and poorly insulated) window glass or framing that is exposed to humid indoor air.
Corner cleaner: Machine, which removes the bead of excess material, formed in welding vinyl window corners.
Cottage double-hung: A double-hung window in which the top sash is shorter than the bottom sash.
CRF: Condensation Resistance Factor. A rating of a window’s ability to resist condensation. The higher the CRF, the less likely condensation is to occur.
Desiccant: A zeolite material used to adsorb (spelled correctly) moisture vapor from within the sealed airspace of an insulating glass unit. Commonly used in silica gel bags found packed with shoes, cameras, and other dry goods.
Design pressure (DP): A measurement of the structural performance of a window or door. Usually specified as one-and-half times greater than necessary based on expected building wind and weather conditions.
Divided lites: Separately framed pieces or panes of glass. A double-hung window, for instance, often has several lites divided by muntins in each sash. These designs are often referred to as six-over-six, eight-over-one, etc., to indicate the number of lites in each sash. Designs simulating the appearance of separately framed panes of glass are often referred to as SDL’s or simulated divided lites. Designs using actual separate pieces of glass are sometimes referred to as TDL’s or true divided lites.
Dormer: An area, which protrudes from the roof of a house, generally featuring one or more windows.
Double glazing: Use of two panes of glass in a window to increase energy efficiency and provide other performance benefits. May or may not refer to an insulating glass unit.
Double-hung window: Window featuring two operable sash which move vertically in the frame.
Double-strength glass: “DSB” referring to double strength billet, this is glass between 0.115 and 0.133 inches thick. DSB glass at 1/8” is thicker that “SSB” (single strength billet) glass, which is about 3/32”.
Drip cap: Moulding placed on top of the header brick mould or casing of a window frame.
Edge effect: Heat transfer at the edge of an insulating glass unit due to the thermal properties of spacers and sealants.
Egress window: Window designed to be large enough for a firefighter to climb in or a person to climb out in an emergency. U.S. building codes require each bedroom of a home to have an emergency exit window, with minimum sizes specified.
Electro chromic glazing: Glass or other glazing material that can be switched from clear to opaque electronically.
Energy Star: A program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, which establishes minimum performance standards for windows to be recognized as energy efficient. Three different sets of standards for U-value and solar heat gain have been established for three different climate zones in the U.S.
Extension jamb: A trim component, which extends from the interior of the window frame to the interior wall.
Extrusion: The process, in which a heated material is forced through a die, used to produce aluminum, vinyl (PVC), and other profiles or components used in the production of windows and doors. Term also is used to refer to the profiles or lineal manufactured by this process and used to make window and door components.
Eyebrows: A curved head on a single hung or fixed lite window, sometimes referred to as an archtop. Common rise is 2 inches per foot of width.
Fanlight: A half-circle window over a door or window with radiating bars.
Fogging: A deposit or film left on an interior surface of a sealed insulating glass unit due to extreme conditions or failed seals. Contrasted to condensation, fogging refers to moisture between the panes.
Fenestration: Originally, an architectural term for the arrangement of windows, doors, and other glazed areas in a wall. Has evolved to become a standard industry term for windows, doors, skylights, and other glazed building openings. From the Latin word, “fenestra,” meaning window.
Finger-joint: A toothed joint used to combine two pieces of wood end-to-end.
Fixed lite: Non-venting or non-operable window. Also called picture window.
Fixed panel: Non-operable door usually combined with operable door unit.
Flashing: A thin strip of metal or other material that diverts water away from a window, door, or skylight.
Float glass: Glass produced by a process in which the liquid-state glass ribbon is floated across a bath of molten tin. The vast majority of flat glass is now produced using this method. The terms “plate” glass and “sheet” glass refer to older manufacturing methods still in limited use.
Flush door: Door produced using two skins or faces separated by a stile-and-rail frame construction at the perimeter. Flush doors may be produced with hollow core or solid core.
French door: Generally refers to a pair of hinged doors, which open from the middle. Also incorporates wider stile and rail components around the glass than typical glazed doors.
Fusion-weld: A term used for a type of corner construction, used with vinyl and other types of windows and doors, in which a small amount of material on the ends of two pieces are melted or softened, then pushed together to form a single piece. This also is referred to simply as a welded corner.
Glazing: Glass (and other materials) in a window or door. Also, the act or process of fitting a unit with glass, such as with backbedding.
Glazing stop: A component of the sash or door panel, which holds the glass in place.
Glider: A window with a movable sash that slides horizontally. Also referred to as a horizontal sliding window or slider.
Grille: A term referring to window pane dividers or muntins. It may be a type of assembly fitted to the interior of the window or door unit, which can be detached for cleaning. Also can be fitted inside the sealed insulating glass unit, when it also is referred to as a grid, internal grids, or GBG (grids between the glass).
Hard-coat low-e: Also known as a pyrolytic low-e coating, this type of low-e is “burned into” the glass in its liquid form and offers a surface that is generally as durable as an ordinary glass surface, and therefore requires no special handling and does not need to be protected in an insulating glass unit. The other type of glass coating is sputter-coat, which is applied in a secondary process. Sometimes referred to as a soft-coat, or MSVD (magnetic sputter vacuum deposition), these types of coatings generally require some additional care in handling and fabrication and must be protected within an insulating glass unit.
Head: Main horizontal frame member at the top of a window or door.
Header: Horizontal framing member placed over the rough opening of a window or door to prevent the weight of wall or roof from resting on the frame. Also known as lintel.
Heat gain: The transfer of heat from outside to inside by means of conduction, convection, and radiation through all surfaces of a house.
Heat loss: The transfer of heat from inside to outside by means of conduction, convection, and radiation through al surfaces of a house.
Hollow-core door: Flush door constructed with two skins or door faces separated by stiles and rails at the perimeter. Generally, a honeycomb type support is used inside the door between the two faces.
Hopper: Window with sash that swings inward from the top, typical in basements.
Horizontal slider: A window with a movable sash that slides horizontally. Also referred to as a gliding window or slider.
Insulating glass (IG): Two or more lites of glass separated and sealed to form a hermetic airspace. The sealed space may contain air or be filled with an inert and denser gas, such as argon, to deepen the effect of dead air space.
IRC: International Residential Code. Published by the International Code Council, the IRC primarily covers low-rise residential construction.
Jalousie: Window made up of horizontally mounted glass louvers or slats that abut each other tightly when closed and rotate outward when cranked open.
Jamb: Main vertical members forming the sides of a window or door frame; contrasted to sash stiles, or the sides of a sash.
Jamb depth: Width of a window or door from the interior to the exterior of the frame.
Jambliner: The track installed inside the jambs of a double-hung window, on which the window sash slide.
J-Channel: Installed or built-in to the side of a window or door, this channel is designed to accommodate the ends of siding pieces to provide a finished appearance.
KD (Knocked Down): Unassembled window or door.
Laminated glass: Two or more sheets of glass compressed against an inner sheet of transparent plastic to which the glass adheres if broken. Used for enhanced safety and security, as well as sound reduction.
Lineal: A standard length profile or shape, typically of vinyl or thermally broken aluminum, which is cut and processed to make window and door components.
Lintel: A structural component or beam above a window or door opening that supports the wall above. Also referred to as a header.
Lite: A pane of glass. In windows and doors, refers to separately framed panes of glass (as well as designs simulating the look of separately framed pieces of glass). Sometimes spelled “light”.
Low-emissivity (Low-E) glass: A coated glass product, which reflects heat.
Masonry opening: Area in a masonry wall left open for windows or door.
MDF: Medium-density fiberboard. A wood-fiber composite used in a variety of window, door, and millwork applications.
Mechanical window: A term for a product, usually vinyl, in which the corners are assembled using screws or other fastening mechanisms, as opposed to a welded corner construction. Also referred to as a mechanically fastened window.
Mullion: A component used to structurally join two window or door units.
Multipoint lock: A locking system, operated with one handle, which secures a window or door at two or more locking points.
Muntin: Profile or moulding, either vertical or horizontal, used to separate glass in a sash into multiple lites. Generally refers to components used to construct divided lite grids or grilles simulating a divided lite look.
Nailing fin: An accessory component or integral extension of a window or patio door frame which generally laps over the conventional stud construction and through which nails are driven to secure the frame in place.
NFRC: National Fenestration Rating Council. A group that has established specific methods for rating and certifying the energy performance of windows.
NWWDA: National Wood Window and Door Association. Trade organization, which has established many standards, related to wood window and door products. It is now the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA).
One-step distributor: An industry term for a wholesale company, which buys building products from a manufacturer and sells them to builders, contractors, and homeowners is referred to as a one-step distributor. A wholesaler, which buys building products from the manufacturer and sells them to lumberyards and home centers, which in turn sell to builders, contractors, and homeowners is referred to as a two-step distributor.
Oriel: Window style in which the upper sash is larger than the lower sash.
Palladian: A large, arch-top window flanked by smaller windows on each side.
Panel: Component, usually wood, mounted within stile and rail members of doors. Also used to refer to the entire door.
Panning: In replacement window work, the outside aluminum trim that can extend around the perimeter of the window opening.
Parting stop: A narrow moulding, either integral or applied, that holds a sash or panel in position in a wood window frame.
Picture window: Large, non-operating window. It is usually longer than it is wide to provide a panoramic view.
Pivot window: A unit with a sash that swings open or shut by revolving on pivots at either side of the sash or at top and bottom.
Polycarbonate: A plastic material used for glazing.
Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB): Plastic material used as the interlayer in the construction of some types of laminated glass.
Plate glass: Flat glass produced by grinding and polishing to create parallel plane surfaces affording excellent vision. Although the term is still used commonly, most window glass is now produced using the float process. See float glass.
Pre-hanger: A company, which buys doors, framing, hardware, glass lites, and other components, and prepares (or pre-hangs) the unit for installation.
Prime window: A primary window, as opposed to a storm or combination unit added on.
Projected window: A window in which the sash opens on hinges or pivots. Refers to casements, awnings, and hoppers.
Pultrusion: The process used to produce fiberglass composite profiles or components used for the production of windows and doors. Term also is used generally to refer to the composite profiles or lineals cut and processed to make window and door components.
PVC: Polyvinylchloride. An extruded material used for window and door framing.
Pyrolytic glass: A glass product that is coated, usually to provide low-emissivity or solar control benefits, during manufacturing process at the molten glass stage. Commonly referred to as a hard coat, this type of coating offers a surface that is generally as durable as an ordinary glass surface, and therefore requires no special handling and does not need to be used in an insulating glass unit. The other type of glass coating is a sputter-coat, which is applied in a secondary process. Sometimes referred to as a soft-coat, these types of coatings generally require some additional care in handling and fabrication and must be used within an insulating glass unit.
Radiation: The transfer of heat in the form of electromagnetic waves from one separated surface to another. Low-E glass is designed to reduce this type of heat transfer by reflecting electromagnetic waves.
Rail: Horizontal member of the framework of a window sash or door.
Reflective glass: Window glass coated to reflect visible light and solar radiation striking the surface of the glass.
Roof window: An operable unit similar to a skylight placed in the sloping surface of a roof.
Rough opening: Framed opening in a wall into which a window or door is to be installed.
Round-top: One of several terms used for a variety of window units with one or more curved frame members, often used over another window or door opening. Also referred to as circle-tops and circle-heads.
R-value: Resistance to thermal transfer or heat flow. Higher R-value numbers indicate greater insulating value. R-value is frequently used by the insulation industry and is the reciprocal of U-value, a value more generally used in the window industry.
Safety glass: A strengthened or reinforced glass that is less subject to breakage or splintering and less likely to cause injury if broken. Law requires glass in doors to be some type of safety glazing product, such as tempered or laminated glass.
Sash: An assembly of stiles and rails (vertical and horizontal members) made into a frame for holding glass.
Sash cord: Rope or chain in double-hung windows, which attaches the sash to the counter balance.
Sash lift: Protruding or recessed handle on the inside bottom rail of the lower sash on a double or single-hung window.
Sash weights: Concealed cast-iron weights used to counterbalance the sash of older double-hung windows.
Self-cleaning glass: Glass that features a coating that uses the sun’s UV rays to break down organic dirt through what is called a photo catalytic effect. The coating also provides a hydrophilic effect, which reduces the surface tension of water to cause it to sheet down the surface easily and wash away dirt. There are several types of similar coated glass products that perform similarly.
Shading coefficient (SC): A measure of a window’s ability to transmit solar heat, relative to that ability for 1/8-inch clear glass. The lower a unit’s shading coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits, and the greater it shading ability. It is being phased out in favor of the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).
Sheet glass: A transparent, flat glass found in older windows, now largely replaced by float glass.
Sidelites: Narrow fixed units mulled or joined to operating door units to give a more open appearance.
Sill: The mail horizontal member forming the bottom of the frame of a window or door.
Simulated divided lites (SDL’s): A type of grille or grid design that creates the appearance of a number of smaller panes of glass separated by muntins, but actually uses larger lites of glass with the muntins placed between and/or on the surfaces of the glass layers.
Single-glazing: Use of single lite of glass in a window. Generally not as energy efficient as insulating glass or other forms of double-glazing.
Single-hung: A window resembling a double-hung, or vertically sliding window, with a fixed top sash.
Single-strength glass: Glass with thickness between 0.085 and 0.100 inches.
Skin: A single piece of material used as the face of a door.
Slab: A term for a complete door panel that has not been prepared for installation into a frame.
Smart window: Generic term sometimes used for windows offering high-energy efficiency or windows featuring switchable glass to control solar heat gain.
Solar control glass: Glass produced with a coating or tint that absorbs or reflects solar energy, thereby reducing solar heat gain.
Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC): A rating, which is now generally replacing shading coefficient, measuring a window’s ability to transmit solar heat. It measures both the solar radiation, which is directly transmitted, as well as the solar radiation absorbed by the glass and subsequently transmitted. The lower a unit’s solar heat gain coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits, and the greater is its shading ability. It is approximately equal to the shading coefficient divided by 1.15. It is expressed as a number without units between 0 and 1. Energy Star™ guidelines in most southern states require a SHGC of .40 or better, which eliminates all but sputter-coat low-e glass.
Solid-core door: Flush door produced with a solid material placed within the door skins.
Soft-coat glass: See Sputter-coat low-e.
Sound transmission class (STC): A rating measuring a window’s acoustic properties or its ability to reduce sound transmission. An STC rating is determined by measuring the sound transmission over a selected range of sound frequencies. The higher the number, the less sound transmitted.
Spectrally selective glass: A coated or tinted glazing with optical properties that are transparent to some wavelengths of energy and reflective to others. Typically, spectrally selective coatings are designed to allow high levels of visible light or daylight into a building and reflect short wave and long-wave infrared radiation.
Sputter-coat low-e: A secondary manufacturing process in which a thin layer of metals, usually designed to offer low-emissivity or solar control benefits, is applied to glass. Referred to as MSVD (magnetic sputter vacuum deposition), sputter-coatings are most commonly referred to as soft-coats, as they generally require some additional care in handling and fabrication and must be used within an insulating glass unit. By contrast, hard-coat or pyrolytic glass is burned into the glass during the manufacturing process at the molten glass stage. Pyrolitic low-e glass offers a surface that is generally as durable as an ordinary glass surface, and therefore requires no special handling and does not need to be used in an insulating glass unit.
Stile: The main vertical frame members of a sash or door.
Stile-and-rail door: Traditional type of wood door constructed with vertical stiles and rails with openings filled with raised wood panels or glass.
Stool: Interior trim piece sometime used to extend a window sill and act as a narrow shelf.
Stop: A moulding used to hold, position, or separated window or door parts. Also, the moulding or component on the inside of a window frame against which the window sash rests or closes. Also called a bead, side stop, window stop, and parting stop.
Super window: A generic term for a window with a very low U-value. Typically, it incorporates multiple glazing, low-E coatings, gas fills, and an insulating spacer.
Tempered glass: Glass heat treated to withstand greater than normal forces on its surface. It is difficult to break and withstands heat better than untreated glass; when it breaks, it shatters into small pieces to reduce shard hazards.
Tenon: A rectangular projection cut out of a piece of wood for insertion into a mortise.
Thermal break aluminum: A thermally insulating and low-conductance polyurethane of extreme density poured and de-bridged to separate interior and exterior aluminum window and door components.
Tilt window: A single- or double-hung window whose operable sash can be tilted into a room to allow cleaning of the exterior surface on the inside.
Transom: Window used over the top of a door or window, primarily for additional light and aesthetic value.
Triple glazing: Use of three panes of glass or plastic with two airspaces between. Generally refers to a sealed insulating unit.
True divided lites (TDL’s): Traditional window construction incorporating smaller panes of glass actually separated by muntins, rather than simulating such an appearance with larger lites of glass and a muntin, grid, or grille placed between or on the surfaces of the glass layers.
U-factor: Rate of heat flow-value through a window, from room air to outside air. Also referred to as U-value. The lower the U-factor, the better the insulating value. U-factor, a rating more generally used in the window industry, is the reciprocal of R-value, a rating commonly used in the insulation industry. This means one divided by R-value equals U-factor and vice-versa. R factor is sometimes confused with R ratings regarding structural tests on windows that lead to Residential or Commercial ratings.
Ultraviolet light (UV): Invisible rays of solar radiation at the short-wavelength violet end of the spectrum. Ultraviolet light rays can cause fading of paint finishes, carpets, and fabrics, as well as deterioration of some materials.
Vinyl: Generic term for polyvinyl chloride or PVC, an extruded material used for window and door framing.
Warm-edge: A type of insulating glass construction using an airspacer offering lower thermal conductance than traditional aluminum spacer. Warm-edge IG units typically offer higher resistance to condensation and an incremental improvement in window energy performance.
WDMA: Window and Door Manufacturers Association. Formerly the National Wood Window and Door Association, this trade organization has established many standards related to wood window and door products.
Weather-stripping: A material or device used to seal the openings, gaps, or cracks of venting window and door units to prevent water and air infiltration.
Weep hole: A small opening in window or sill member through which water may drain to the building exterior.
Weld: A term used for a type of corner construction, used with vinyl and other types of windows and doors, in which a small amount of material at the two pieces are melted or softened, then pushed together to form a single piece. This also is referred to commonly as a fusion-weld.
Wild and urban interface: An area where buildings are bounded by wild or natural areas, which are a particular concern in regions where wild fires are a concern. Some fire and code officials are looking at the establishment of fire-resistance requirements for exterior building products in these “interface” areas.
Windload: Force exerted on a surface by moving air.
Standard Defects and Allowances
Things You need to Know
Adjustment Part ID
2000 Series Vent Removal
Mulling (Coupling of 2 windows)
Installation of PVC Windows and Doors in a New Construction
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