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Guide to Storm Windows

Welcome to our complete guide to storm windows for your home. In the following text we will explore the general features, guidelines, and choices you will need to settle on for finding the right storm windows. Each of the sections provide a deeper corresponding resource for you to expand your knowledge and make informed decisions. Installing storm windows can be a cheaper alternative to getting inefficient windows replaced in most cases. Certain types of storm windows may actually cost about the same as simply getting the old, inefficient ones replaced.

The first question we should address is; what are storm windows? Sure, we know physically what they are; but what all functions do they perform? Many of us have an idea in mind of the windows we'd put up with the seasons or having to swap around a screen and a storm window. The answer to that question is a bit more in-depth. Storm windows provide a variety of great benefits for your home now than they did twenty years ago. Advances in technology have opened up a great many avenues of benefit to a homeowner.

General Benefits of Storm Windows

Storm windows do far more than protect your windows and help seal the house during foul weather. Newer models of storm windows feature coatings that can help filter out more harmful ultra-violet rays that cause your carpet, furniture, and other objects near the window to fade. Some coatings can also block more sunlight or allow more through than a window normally would. A variety of mountings and manufacturing materials allow a home owner a wide selection in choosing the right fit for their house and the climate they live in.

Quality storm windows and a correct installation can see a great reduction in your household heating and cooling bills. They increase the overall energy efficiency of your house while saving you money. External storm windows built with shatter-proof plexiglass or safety glass can improve your home's safety in areas prone to hurricanes or tornados.

A proper installation and fit will stop cold drafts from around leaky windows. This helps to maintain a comfortable living space for your home where the occupants will not be subject to varying temperature areas throughout the house. In some cases, the government gives tax credit for installation for helping to increase the energy efficiency of your house. Details on these programs can vary with different areas. A good place to start looking for information is your state government's webpage.

Prices and Costs of Storm Windows

The prices and costs of installation for storm windows can vary greatly depending on your area. There is no great rule of thumb when it comes to pricing. Be aware that you do get what you pay for with storm windows. If a window seems cheap then it probably is. You can find more tips on gauging the quality of the storm windows further down, and throughout the guide. If you opt to pay for installation; ensure that your contract is licensed, bonded, and insured to be performing the work. Do not settle for less, otherwise you may find yourself with some difficult problems if the contractor balks or botches.


The following terms will help you better understand the connected pages if you are not familiar with window terminology. Some of them can be difficult to interpret, share multiple definitions, or may be a bit obscure. If you are familiar with windows and their terminology, this section may be worth skipping for you.

Window Sash

The sash of a window is a section that moves. The sash may either hold a screen, panes of glass, or plexiglass. When installing storm windows, smooth operation of the sashes is one of the measure to check to ensure the they were installed correctly.

Window Stop

The window stop is the entirety of the section that holds the window sashes, including the immobile section. Most storm windows are typically mounted to the stop in some fashion.


Glazing can have a few different meanings. The most common use is in reference to the panes of glass or plexiglass. A glaze may also refer to a coating painted on the glazing to help with efficiency of the window or provide additional benefits.

Glazier Points

On storm window panes that are puttied into the window, one will find glazier points holding the window in. A glazier point is a small bit of metal spaced evenly around a wooden frame that holds the pane in place. The glazing putty is what acts as the insulator to seal it in.

Storm Window Types

This section of the guide to storm windows will help offer greater detail in the pros and cons of the different types. Making the correct decision about materials and style will ensure you are able to enjoy your storm windows and their effects for years to come.

Interior Storm Windows

Interior storm windows refer to the type that are mounted on the inside of the house, generally against the back facing of the stop. This style of storm window can provide an excellent benefit to those who own a historic home and do not want to compromise the look from the outside. They are engineered in such a fashion so as to be unobtrusive to onlookers indoors. The only people that will ever notice will need to be looking specifically for them. An interior storm window can add a great deal of efficiency to an older style window to help stop energy transfers of heat and drafts. This is also the style of choice for those living in apartment buildings or other shared buildings. They do not have to be installed in every room to generate a decent benefit from them or to not look strange from the outside.

Exterior Storm Windows

Exterior storm windows are mounted on the outside of the house, generally on that side of the window stop. An exterior storm window can offer great benefit to a home including increased safety, higher efficiency of the windows, and increased protection to the actual window behind it. These windows do require a bit more maintenance than their internal counterparts due to the exposure they are subjected to.

Double Track Storm Windows

A fairly popular style of storm window called the Double Track allows ease of movement of a pane of glass and a screen for easy changing between seasons. They do not typically offer the same flexibility as a Triple Track can but still give a fair amount of versatility to the window.

Triple Track Storm Windows

A style of storm window that has gained in popularity is known as a triple track storm window. The triple track refers to the fact that both panes of glass and the screen are all mobile. This particular design also allows for much easier cleaning as the sashes with panes can normally be removed. Other models may feature tilt-in designs that allow you to clean the outside of the window while standing inside. This style of storm window does tend to be a bit more expensive but it offers a great deal more versatility particularly in regards to upkeep.

Storm Window Materials

The common materials for manufacture of storm windows are aluminum, vinyl, and wood. Each one provides specific benefits and drawbacks that should be considered before making a choice. The following will provide a loose breakdown that can assist you in finding the right materials for your home.

Aluminum Storm Windows

Aluminum storm windows are extremely durable and light-weight in comparison to their counterparts. Anodized aluminum windows have an extremely high resilience to wear, tear, weathering, and rusting. The downside is they offer fairly poor insulation to the other materials as they permit a fair degree of energy transfer of hot and cold. A positive indicator of quality is over-lapping metal rather than being joined flush. A flush joint can work apart or be forced apart with weather and create drafts.

Vinyl Storm Windows

Vinyl storm windows are a popular choice due to their lightweight nature, general toughness, and large selection of color matching available. They perform very well as an insulator but do suffer a bit in the durability part in extreme conditions. Constant exposure to extreme heat can cause warping while constant exposure to extreme cold can cause cracking and splitting. Treat vinyl storm windows will have a fairly long lifespan, but they can fade with time under constant sun. A good indicator of quality is the method in which the corners of the vinyl storm windows are joined. A welded, over-lapped seal typically produces the best insulating properties.

Wood Storm Windows

Wooden storm windows offer a great value in general for their cost. They tend to be much better insulators than aluminum and vinyl but do require more upkeep and will decay faster. It is imperative to keep ventilation channels open with wood storm windows otherwise moisture collecting will accelerate the wood decay process. A good indicator of quality is for wooden storm windows to have interlocking joints in the corners.

Installation and Magnetic Windows

Installation of storm windows does not have to be a difficult or daunting task. Professional installation may be a better choice in some circumstances depending on your needs. External storm windows can be a challenge to install especially if you need to install them on multiple floors. Not everyone is comfortable with working on a ladder while trying to properly install an awkward window. This may be better left to the professionals as a faulty installation will cause degradation of the window and give it poor insulating qualities.

Interior storm windows are much easier to install oneself as that takes place all on the interior of the building. They are still a project to be undertaken seriously as a compromising of the seal will drastically reduce the efficiency of their insulating properties.

Magnetic window seals can offer a bit easier installation and some great benefits. The installation includes a metal frame strip that is mounted along the window sash with the storm window simply set in place. The magnetic seal provides a strong bond against air flow, moisture, and transfer of heat. The negative side is that with time the magnetic field can grow weaker, though it does require less maintenance than a caulk installation would.

General Tips and Reminders

Quality matters with storm windows! If you get a cheaply made, poor quality window you will lose money on your investment through poor efficiency and living conditions. A quick tip to checking the quality is to look at the corners and the hardware of the window. If the hardware is a good quality, it is likely the window is too. Corners should be over-lapped in some fashion no matter what material it is made out of. Weather-stripping should be of fairly decent quality.

If you paint your storm windows to match your trim or decor, do not paint over any moving parts. Painting over moving parts of your storm windows are going to make them difficult or impossible to operate. They need to operate smoothly so that they can be properly maintained to extend their lifespan.

Vent holes should not be clogged, painted, or caulked over! Know where your vent holes are for your storm windows. Before each summer and winter it would be prudent to run an awl or another thin object through them to clean them out. Condensation on the inside of your storm window will cause decay, mildew, and swelling in certain materials.

Materials matter for your climate. Some materials will hold up better in other climates than others. If you live in constantly hot terrain, vinyl may not be the best choice for a material. The same goes for using wood in constantly wet or humid climates. Choosing the right material for your house and your area can add a lot of life to your storm windows.

If you are going to install windows yourself, use a non-silicone exterior caulk. Otherwise you will be faced with a seal that breaks down and difficulty with a silicone caulk in clean up and control.

Deeper channels in the storm window for movement provide better insulation through thicker weather stripping. Depth of the channels can also indicate the quality of a storm window.

General Repairs and Maintenance

General repairs and maintenance are easy to perform for your storm windows. One simply wants to ensure it gets done in a concise fashion so that you get the most out of your storm windows.

This guide is meant to be a general introduction and understanding towards picking out the right storm windows for your home. Visit the links to learn more about the respective subjects so that you can make a good decision for your home. Installing storm windows is a benefit that pays off itself almost immediately if you consider the gain in home value. In the long term, you can look forward to a more comfortable home and reduced heat and cooling costs.