History of Window Types in America
Have you ever wondered why the windows at your home look the way they do and made of the materials they are? The contemporary house window wasn’t designed overnight. And if you have a firm understanding of the history of windows in this country, it may help you to make a more informed decision when choosing products for your next window replacement project.
America’s First Windows
The first windows in America were casement windows made of wood. Not too long after, sliding windows and double-hung windows—all predominantly made of wood—were introduced. However, since wood is a rather flammable material, it wasn’t uncommon for wood windows to catch fire. In fact, this happened so often throughout major U.S. cities in the 19th century that stringent fire laws were put into effect, slowing the usage of wood windows. During this time, glass windows were prevalent in homes.
Advancements Spurned by the Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to many technological advancements, offered an alternative to wood-frame windows: steel. Manufacturers began using steel for window frames in place of wood as it was not only safer—steel does not catch fire—but also more durable. Using steel for window frames also made it possible to produce windows on a much larger scale, which propelled them become a permanent fixture in homes. Steel remained the most popular window frame material through the turn of the 20th century.
The Introduction of Aluminum
Although aluminum had been used for window frames on buses, trains, and street cars since the early 1900s, it hadn’t yet been used for house windows. This changed when the end of World War II brought with it the rise of the aluminum industry in the U.S. Manufacturers that were purposing aluminum for the war effort now needed new demand for their products, which they found in construction. Aluminum-frame windows were cheap to make and did not rust like steel or rot like wood. However, aluminum is a much weaker material than steel, which meant bulkier, less attractive windows.
Vinyl Comes on the Scene in the ‘60s
World War II left Germany in disarray. Having to rebuild their economy with little resources, German manufacturers turned to synthetic materials and, in 1954, created the first vinyl window. Ten years later, the concept of vinyl windows made its way to the United States. But the idea of a plastic window frame and a price tag that was on average twice as high as aluminum windows drove builders to steer clear of vinyl windows. It wasn’t until the energy crisis in the 1970s that demand for vinyl windows began to rise, as vinyl is more energy efficient than aluminum. Today, however, we know that vinyl does warp over time in extreme temperature shifts, which can compromise a home’s thermal performance.
Fibrex®: The Window Frame of Tomorrow
The history of window types in America is undoubtedly a lengthy one that has led to numerous advancements—many of which are evident in the products you have in your home. However, the evolution of house windows in this country is continuing. Industry-leading manufacturers, like Renewal by Andersen®, continue to design and custom craft windows that are reaching new heights in durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal.
At RBA of Greater Wisconsin, we’re proud to be the exclusive provider of Andersen replacement windows in Green Bay and surrounding areas. The windows we install are outfitted with proprietary Fibrex® frames, which boast twice the strength of vinyl and are 700 times more effective at slowing heat transfer than aluminum. What’s more, these windows can be customized to your liking thanks to an array of aesthetic options.
If you’re ready to invest in the windows of tomorrow for your home, contact us today to set up a time for an in-home consultation.