Don’t Sacrifice Aesthetics

Oct. 5, 2001
Partnering with a company that cares about details

Cities all over America are experiencing a renaissance of older buildings. Both private and public funds are being used to preserve structures that have provided shelter and support human activity. In fact, of the more than 67,000 listings in the National Register of Historic Places, nearly 72 percent are historic buildings.

The fenestration is one of the few aspects of a building serving both as an interior and exterior feature. It also makes up a considerable amount of the historic fabric of a building and is usually given special considerations. When renovating old structures, a building owner needs to partner with a company that not only understands the guidelines established by the National Park Service for renovation, but also understands the construction of older windows. It's not enough to fill the opening with a standard window and some trim pieces. There are companies that will build a window to replicate what exists, which allows the reuse of the original interior casings.

If "old" or "historic" falls into the realm of your building, you should be aware of advances that have been made in the aluminum clad wood window market. Owners appreciate the aesthetic value of their windows but also have a practical side to them that wants to reduce maintenance. Now, they can have both and maintain the aesthetics of the original windows with aluminum extrusions that match the original wood profiles of the old windows.

In addition to matching the profiles, some manufacturers offer custom options that make replacement a rather simple task. When a project calls for brick mould casing, sill detail, ogee lug, etc., it doesn't always mean that building owners must be limited to a wood exterior that will need ongoing maintenance.

Darrin Peterson, from Marvin Windows and Doors Special Projects Division, has the ability to provide product flexibility on specific projects. This flexibility may include variations of Marvin's existing product lines and options, or designing a new product or option to meet a unique need. "The majority of our commercial business is designing custom extrusions for these types of projects," Peterson explains. "We have been successful getting clad products through historic reviews by replicating existing sill and casing conditions."

From an owner's perspective, another savings encountered by having a window company provide factory-applied clad casings is substantial. Other companies may have the ability to provide similar parts and pieces but commonly do not apply the trim in their factory; rather, this additional jobsite labor would need to be covered by the owner. This practice can also result in damaged or lost trim long before it gets a chance to be installed.

In addition, owners don't need to feel limited by wood species. Many manufacturers have started to introduce a wider variety of species for wood windows and doors. Some companies provide many of their products in woods like Red Cedar, White Oak, and Mahogany. This is just another way that an owner can closely replicate without losing the charm or elegance of those original windows while providing a more energy-efficient product.

Jerry Busch is commercial manager at the Overland Park, KS, site of Marvin Windows and Doors (; (800) 537-8266. Busch works with local Marvin distributors and their architectural customers on non-residential projects for the western United States.

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