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Storm windows - Your home's reliable protection from the elements

As add-ons, storm units protect the original windows from the outside noise, insulate from cold drafts, retain heat, and make a home more energy efficient. They are offered in various styles, forms, and materials. Installing storm windows is extremely popular among homeowners seeking a cost-efficient option that can substitute a complete replacement of old windows. The choice of forms, materials, types and glazes of storm windows (be it exterior or interior ones) should rely on the home's location and architectural style, as well as your functional requirements and available budget. When all these factors are considered, you can expect to get the right secondary window option that will serve you for years to come.

Storm windows - Your home's reliable protection from the elements

Keep on reading if you want to know what types of storm windows exist, which ones best fit your home's needs, what benefits and drawbacks they have, how to install and maintain such windows, and how much money you need to spend on their purchase and installation.

What is a storm window?

A storm unit is a secondary window mounted over the existing windows. Protective windows improve the home's soundproofing and provide additional thermal insulation. Additionally, they ensure the protection of glass windows from any damage caused by branches or hail running into windows during storms. 

The range of materials used for producing storm windows varies from simple glass to rigid and flexible plastic sheets, with frames typically made of vinyl, wood, or aluminum.

The distinctive feature of storm windows is that they are pretty flexible in installation and further use:

  • You can either install a storm window permanently to get benefits all the year round, or
  • You can install it seasonally (e.g., use them during cold seasons and remove them during summer)

The lifespan of your storm windows will depend not only on weather conditions but also on frame materials you select: the better ones you buy, the longer they will serve you.

The variety of replacement storm windows

Wise homeowners willing to save on rising home energy costs know that storm windows installation can help them сut heat losses and control spending. 

With many different storm windows available on the market, most people prefer selecting them considering the following factors:

  • The type of a storm window
  • The type of a frame material

Let’s have a look at these factors in more detail.

Storm window types

Below you will find 3 kinds of storm windows widely used by homeowners:

  • Exterior storm windows

They are offered in different shapes and sizes and are usually set in aluminum, vinyl, or wood frame. Such windows are installed outside the standard glass windows and attached to them using screws and sealer. If you need to clean them or replace panes, you may do this by unclasping pins between the window frame’s protective layer and the wall.

As a rule, manufacturers make weep holes in exterior storm windows to prevent condensation accumulation between window layers and ensure a better drainage system.

  • Interior storm windows

People like installing such windows as they are pretty flexible:

  • They come with glass, plastic, or acrylic inserts
  • They are lightweight
  • They are not expensive
  • They can fit any unusual window shape or/and size
  • They are easily mounted or removed at any time and need no special skills

Interior storm windows can be framed in either fiberglass or vinyl. To attach such windows to your standard windows, you may use magnets or press them together using compression. While being easy to install, this storm window ideally fits multi-story buildings.

  • Disposable or temporary storm windows 

As the least expensive type of storm windows on the market, these units are usually used only during the cold season. Framed with plastic or acrylic panels, they can be made using transparent, translucent films and are fixed to the interior pane on the inside of the house using adhesive tape and a hair dryer to ensure a tight seal.

Storm window frame materials

To ensure a long service life for your secondary windows, consider picking the right frame material according to your local climate and functional requirements. Here are the three tried-and-true storm window frame materials to choose from: 

  • Aluminum

Aluminum is a relatively cheap and long-lasting material. As a rule, such units come with low-E or traditional glass panels and are attached to window frames with the help of screws. In addition, the high-quality versions of aluminum storm window frames are covered with a corrosion-resistant sealant to guarantee the proper operation of the windows. While buying an aluminum storm window, you may choose the color you like, as many window manufacturers offer a broad color palette.

  • Wood

Storm windows with wooden frames are typically made of solid wood (usually cypress or Ponderosa pine) that is water resistant and can easily be painted or repainted in any color you like. These windows are placed inside the standard window frame and fixed using clips.

When it comes to wooden frames, you may choose from virtually endless options of designs and shapes. Additionally, wooden storm windows will perfectly fit houses that need to preserve their historical authenticity.

  • Vinyl

If aluminum or wood windows do not meet your functional requirements or interior, vinyl can become a good alternative. It is a durable and weather-resistant material that features high insolation protection. Nevertheless, vinyl frames require periodic maintenance to ensure window integrity protection.

Selecting this type of window, be ready that frame colors can fade over time, and some cracks can appear due to extreme temperature discontinuity.

Advantages of storm windows

If you have doubts about the necessity of storm windows installation, look at the benefits they provide:

  1. Reducing utility costs. The U.S. Department of Energy states that installing secondary windows helps to cut down energy expenses by up to 30 percent.
  2. Retaining the architectural style of old windows. Storm windows are great for landlords willing to keep the looks of old windows that add a distinctive, historic charm to buildings.
  3. Soundproofing. Storm windows ensure the reduction of any outside noise. Additionally, some manufacturers promise their storm windows will block 95 percent of all sounds entering your home.
  4. Saving on new replacement windows installation. Instead of buying and mounting new replacement windows, you may purchase storm windows which are 25 to 50 percent cheaper.
  5. Protecting against poor weather conditions. Storm windows can help you extend your standard windows’ lifespan and protect them from winds, snowfalls, and rains.

Drawbacks of storm windows

You also need to understand what disadvantages the installation of secondary windows might bring you:

  1. Requiring professional help during installation. To make storm windows installation pass off without a hitch, you need to ask a certified window installer to help you.
  2. Changing the house’s appearance. Since external storm windows are placed from outside the house, they are seen from the street. Additionally, cheap versions will make your home look cheap and aesthetically bad-looking. But if you choose high-quality frame materials (e.g., aluminum) and ensure they fit well the size of your standard windows, your home will look fine.
  3. Requiring some maintenance. When you decide to mount storm windows, be ready to clean weep holes from time to time to avoid windowsill damage caused by water penetration. And while using wood storm frames, don’t forget to repaint them on a regular basis.

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Interior storm vs. exterior storm windows - What is the difference?

To know what type of storm window best meets your individual needs, you need to compare them first. Both interior and exterior storm windows improve the energy efficiency of the building, regulate the internal temperature making your house more comfortable and cozy to live in, decrease the level of outside noise entering the house, and provide better window insulation and protection.

Look at the comparative table below to get a better idea of the distinctive features of each window type and make an informed decision on the right option for your home.

Distinctive features Interior storm windows Exterior storm windows
Ease of installation and maintenance May be installed while staying in the house. Can be easily replaced or reinstalled. May not be easy to install by yourself as you may need the ladder to climb (unless you have a single-story house) and someone to help you with operating tools.
Curb appeal Are not visible from the street, thus preserving the aesthetic look of the building. Can worsen the appearance of your home as they are visible from the outside.
Protection from noise and air leaks Ensure excellent soundproofing and insulation thanks to an almost airtight seal. Ensure energy efficiency of your home and protect windows from outside damage but can’t guarantee all noise and air are blocked due to the presence of weep holes.

A step-by-step storm window installation

As we've already mentioned, storm windows installation inside the house is relatively easy and requires minimal to no tools. As for exterior storm windows, they are more challenging to mount, and it's better to understand what the installation procedure includes. Look at the quick step-by-step instruction below to decide whether you can tackle the installation task yourself or need someone skilled to assist you: 

  1. Place the standard-sized storm window into the opening to verify if it fits the opening. 
  2. Take the storm window away and caulk all sides of the current window opening, excluding the sill.
  3. Put the storm window back into the opening and adjust the window's top corners to the window frame with the help of screws.
  4. Adjust a window sill expander.
  5. Twist in all installation screws into the window unit.

How much do storm windows cost?

Are you looking to get high-quality storm windows that will serve you for years? Be ready for a significant upfront investment then. Nevertheless, you can rest assured that such an investment will pay you back, and you won't need to buy new windows (paying high prices again) in a few years.

To get a clear-cut storm window cost estimate, you need to consider (among others) the following factors:

  • The windows manufacturer and their reputation
  • The need for the existing storm windows replacement
  • The size of a secondary window you want to install
  • The selected window frame material 
  • Storm window installation cost (if you don’t want to do it yourself)
  • The warranty a manufacturer provides you with

On average, prices for storm windows, including materials and labor, range from $80 to $250 per unit, but the final estimate will be calculated based on your specific needs and requirements.

Does storm windows replacement worth the investment?

To calculate your savings after adding replacement storm units over the existing windows, you need to consider numerous variables, such as local climate, changes in weather conditions, the condition of your house, the cost of labor in your area, etc. Having analyzed all these factors, you may conclude that your decision to replace storm windows will become a long-term investment. 

We recommend you make a thorough market analysis before getting new storm windows as it helps to save on materials and labor. First, pay a visit to the brick-and-mortar home improvement retail stores to check the available storm window options. If the choice is poor, browse online assortments of the Home Depot, Andersen Windows, Lowe's, and other websites that offer windows of their own production or other popular brands. Match costs of storm windows and pick the unit that fits your requirements and budget.

Once you decide on the right storm window, start looking for a professional installer who can deal with its installation. It makes sense to check local directories or ask your neighborhood community for advice. However, if time plays a critical role in your case, entrust the task of installing storm windows to HomeQuote. Fill out your request by the direct link on the website and get offers from up to 4 local window contractors. Compare their offers and set up an appointment. You will be pleasantly surprised by our storm window replacement costs and quality of services.

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