What to do with those Leaky Windows?

In many houses, windows are among the most important features that attract our attention and make us feel at home. While post-World War II windows were different from those before the war, windows were always an important part of the home. But in addition to the beauty they add to a home, they also bring with them some challenges for heating and cooling. These challenges are why the Nevada Preservation Foundation’s first ever workshop and resource fair will be on dealing with historic windows.

We will bring in more than fifteen vendors and their wares in order to present a wide array of ways in which we can work with our simultaneously wonderful and challenging historic windows. We do hope you can join us on February 21 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Trinity Life Center at 1000 E. St. Louis Avenue. We will have vendors with products that take five different approaches to making windows more energy efficient: weatherstripping & caulking, interior window film, insulating cellular shades, interior window inserts, and replacement windows.

Below is a sneak peek at some of the vendors participating in our Windows Resource Fair:

  • Savi construction
  • Magnetite Interior Window Inserts
  • Energy Saver Window Inserts
  • Milgard Windows
  • American Heritage Windows
  • Insulated Cellular Shades from: Home Depot and Nest Featherings

While the staff here at the Preservation Press is excited to be able to bring so many great products to our readers, we also thought it might be a good idea to provide some vocabulary for talking about windows. There are lots of types of windows, materials for windows, and even lots of window vocabulary. So, we decided to provide you with a bit of background on the ins and outs of windows. We’re hoping it will help you be able to talk more easily about your windows to the vendors at our upcoming Windows Resource Fair.

Window Vocabulary

There are a myriad of terms relating to windows. However, we have pared them down to just the basics and only those that relate to historic windows.

Window anatomy.Casing: The trim or molding that is mounted on the interior or exterior wall around the window.
Jamb: A structural support for the window. They are located inside the window framing along the top and sides. If a window opens, the jamb may include the track and latches.
Mullion: Often confused with a muntin (below), a mullion is a structural support that also divides two adjacent windows.
Muntin: Pieces of wood or metal that divide windows into smaller panes of glass called lights.
Reglazing: The replacement of individual glass panes or lights.
Sash: One or more panels (either operating or fixed) that create a frame to hold the glass for the window.
Sill: The lowest portion of the window frame. The exterior sill slopes outward to help water drain.
Stile: A vertical portion of a sash that holds the glass in place.
Window Wheels: Rollers that sit inside the bottom and possibly top window rails and allow sliding sashes to move easily.

Window Materials

Vinyl windowsHere, too, there are other materials with which windows are made. Since fiberglass and vinyl windows – as well as window grille inserts – compromise the historic integrity of our homes, we will be focusing only on those materials that help us to maintain our homes to the standards of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Wood: Originally, most windows were made of wooden sashes, sills, stiles, and jambs not to mention wooden muntins. Wood windows that are properly cared for will outlast many more modern materials.
Aluminum: Many midcentury windows have aluminum sashes, etc. Here in the Southwest, unlike colder climates elsewhere, aluminum windows are quite energy efficient. Recently, there have been some innovations in aluminum windows where a material that doesn’t conduct heat is placed between the interior and exterior stiles. Such windows are said to be thermally broken.
Steel: In addition to aluminum, some homes in Southern Nevada have steel windows. Most often these appear in 1940s and early 1950s homes, but may appear in newer homes also. They are often casement windows (see below).

Types of Windows

This is probably the most complex category, so we will focus mainly on the windows that are most common in Southern Nevada, namely single hung, casement, sliding, and fixed.

Casement window.Single hung windows are common in our older historic homes, generally from the 1940s and earlier. They are made up of two sashes one above the other with only the bottom sash sliding vertically to open the window.
Casement windows are most common in 1940s and early 1950s homes. They are hinged on one side and swing outward. They are often made of steel with a large fixed window between two casement windows or as a single casement with an identical fixed window pair.
Sliding windows may be the most ubiquitous in Southern Nevada. They can be made of wood or aluminum, and are most often made up of a single horizontally moving sash. I have seen some sliding windows in which both sashes move, but most often it is only one that slides.
Fixed windows became increasingly common in post-World War II America after innovations in technology allowed for larger and larger panes of glass. We do see fixed windows in the early 1950s Howard and Hassett designed homes off Tenth Street. But they are much more common as we move through the 50s and into the 1960s. For anyone who’s been lucky enough to visit Steve Evans’ home, you’ll see some amazing fixed windows.
Clerestory window.Clerestory windows are a type of window, most often fixed, that are set where a wall meets the ceiling. In Southern Nevada, these are very common in 1960s homes especially in neighborhoods like Paradise Palms.
Leaded glass windows are a kind of fixed window that is made up of many small panes of glass that are held together by pieces called cames or muntins (see above) made of lead, zinc, copper or other material. Leaded glass windows seem to be most popular in ranch houses from the 1950s and early 60s.

This is just a starter list of window terms and types. But we hope it can serve as a handy reference to historic windows in our community. If there are any bits of vocabulary that we have missed, please click on “Add Comment” below to the left and let us know what we missed!

We look forward to seeing you on February 21st!

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