Iron Steel Windows

Olek fabricates, finishes and installs iron and steel windows. Commonly made around the time of World War I when the Tudor style was popular, until the 1930’s and even into the 1950’s in apartment buildings, most of these windows are in need of restoration, repair or replacement today. There is a resurgence of the style in loft buildings being restored, and new loft-style buildings being constructed today. They are being made today as originally made, and in more thermally efficient versions with insulated glass.

Industrial Style Steel Windows and Doors 16 feet high for Norfolk Virginia Art Gallery.

All original sashes sandblasted and restored prior to installing new framing, and new stainless steel edge profile, to be anchored into masonry. Ready for painting.

Hardware – Casement Sash Adjusters, Pivot Hinges, and Locks

Vintage casement style hardware is readilty available, in bronze, brass, and nickel plated. Steel windows are almost always designed as casement or pivoting windows (notable exceptions are for lot line fire rated substitutions for Double Hung Double Sash windows). The vintage style casement sash adjusters and locks are readily available. Antique styles that are not in production today may be custom modeled, cast, and finished by chemical patination to match original hardware. See our link for these services:

http://www.oleklejbzon.com/Iron_Door_Ornamental/iron_bronze_casting.htm

New Iron Windows with Insulated Glass are more thermally efficient than the Single Glazed Originals

Steel windows are available with insulated glass for greater thermal efficiency than the original single pane design. They do have an inherent design issue, lacking a thermal break. The steel is continuous from the exterior through the full thickness of the sash and muntins into the interior, so the steel conducts more heat from the interior than either thermally broken extruded aluminum windows, or wood windows. In a thermally broken aluminum design, the frame, sash, and muntins are made of interlocking components that have a thermal insulating layer, such as plastic or rubber or even wood between inner and outer layers of the aluminum. As rubber and plastic have very limited lives, such windows are generally engineered to last about as long as the insulating glass, ten to twenty years and to be replaced in their entirety. With painting, a steel frame window can easily last 100 years. Even without maintenance painting, they are still secure and immensely strong after 50 years.

These steel windows in a 1920’s factory building, are outliving the concrete and steel lintels, with out any maintenance or painting. Such windows are susceptible to deforming from rust, which prevents proper sealing.

The insulated glass units (IGU’s) are made sometimes of clear q3 plate glass, but more often with a coated glass for greater thermal insulating value. The AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association) and ASTM (American Society for Testing of Materials) have testing criteria and standards, determining R-values for the IGU’s and windows as a complete unit. The coatings of the glass vary widely, from a soft smoky layer deposition ruined immediately by condensation, to a relatively durable hard tin composite plasma deposition process for the inside surface of the outer glass layer, that reflect heat and increase the insulation value of the IGU’s, far above that of single layer glass. The IGU’s can be made with laminated glass layers for ballistic and greater acoustic insulation. The coated IGU’s are all tinted more or less, and result in a green, black or gray, or other tint to the glass, more noticeable from outside.

Maintenance of Iron or Steel Windows requires Painting, and Insulated Glass replacement

The life of insulated glass window units is short due to failure of the sealants between the glass and the typical aluminum spacers between. The seals are subjected to thermal stress from the sun creating a large rise in temperature, aging of the sealant, and expansion and contraction of the window components from the daily heating and cooling cycles. Ice can form on the outside of the sash and be physically destructive with changes in temperature, damaging the seals. The window units have an inert gas, usually argon between the glass, sealed inside that is thermally less conductive than the 79% nitrogen 20% oxygen mixture of the atmosphere. Once the seals fail, the gas leaks out, and moist air with humidity enters the glass units, and can condense inside the glass, clouding them up and causing permanent etching of the glass, or damage to the thermal coatings of the glass inside. The seals fail surprisingly quickly. Thermally conductive aluminum spacers cause condensation between the glass and the spacers after the failure of the silicone secondary sealants, and that degrades the typical polyisobutylene inner seals. At the present time, the “gold standard” for the industry set by the IGMA (Insulated Glass Manufacturers Association) is that 80% of the windows still have an effective seal after 5 years of use. So you can expect that 20% will fail, of the highest rated insulated glass in only 5 years. Within ten years, almost all seals will have failed in an insulated window glass with aluminum spacers. A better space design has been developed recently, a thermally non-conductive foam spacer, that promises longer life. They are not commonly available and have not been fully adopted by window manufacturers today.

Insulated glass panes require a different type of sealant for the glass than do the original design single glazed windows. Although natural linseed oil glazing putty lasts 60-80 years typically, the organic rubber seals of insulated glass would be damaged by linseed oil over time, so acid free curing of the silicone caulking and neoprene is used to seal insulated glass units instead. That sealant is only replaced as the insulated window units are replaced. Depending on exposure, windows should be painted at least as often, or more often than the insulated glass units.

This hundred year old building on 57th St. in NYC has hundred year old steel windows, about 15′ high. Note the loft-style new windows to the left, and the scale of these windows compared with the regular apartments to the right.

Restoration of 30′ high x 10′ wide steel window from the 1920’s was re-glazed, 12 stories above Central Park West from inside.