Its window decision time. That means we are fast approaching our deadline to decide what kind of windows we want in the house or the project gets delayed.
After months of searching and scoping out all possibilities we’ve narrowed it down to 2 firms both who specialize in modern well designed aluminum windows….. Alumatherm – a local Oakland based company, or Gerkin an Idaho based firm.
We have been working with Jonathan Rosendall, our highly recommended glazing consultant, at Division 8 Resource to navigate the glazing industry maze and to gather samples and here’s our thoughts:
Gerkin – These are great windows, they are not typically produced for residential homes, they are more often used in commercial buildings, but they have a modern clean look to them. The negative was that their U value performance was higher than we wanted, but all aluminum windows suffer from this. Price wise tho they are very affordable . They had a range of finishes too but the one major issue for us was they were limited on their flexibility for some of our more unique windows. Because everything is commercially made they can’t be as flexible on some of their sizing and our hallway long thin window was going to have to be cut in two – I didn’t want that so that was a major issue for me. Certain windows were also to be field jointed due to the size – building windows on site was not something we wanted to deal with.
They also had a slightly longer lead time than Alumatherm which was a factor that we also considered. Finally they only offered a 5 year warranty compared to longer ones from elsewhere.
Here’s our Gerkin sample window with fly screen included:
I wasn’t loving the hardware detail on this window, there’s a lot to it and it seems really fussy compared to the Alumatherm one.
Alumatherm – I really liked that these windows were being locally produced and its a family run firm, and they have a great look to them. They are more of a premium window – used in some of the most expensive residential projects around but we were really surprised when they agreed to match the price of Gerkin for our project. They also use a thermal break design that is similar to the way windows are made in Europe and is nice and energy-efficient. The nail fin and the waterproofing are built into the extruded aluminum frame (rather than being an add on) which makes it structurally sound and extra water tight. They are also a custom shop that will make anything to the exact size you want which was important for some of our major feature windows. One other thing they do is a parallel opening window – where the glass comes away from the frame parallel to the frame – it’s very cool!
The final piece was that they made us a sample window to our exact specs, see below, with the anodized finish so that we could see exactly how they would look and interact with our building fabric. Finally they have offered to store any windows we don’t immediately need until we do need them which is a huge thing for us as we are doing this project in phases.
So as you can guess in the end we went with Alumatherm. This decision has been about 4 months in the making and in that time we’ve assessed and ruled out everyone from Marvin to Sierra Pacific to Gerkin.
I’m excited to see the first lot of windows go into the house in about 6 weeks time and to get rid of our single glazed 40 year old windows. It will dramatically change the front visual of the house and the amount of light pouring into the upstairs. It will also be nice to have big windows to soak up the amazing views of the San Francisco Bay that we are super lucky to have.