A primer on doors, windows and weatherproofing in South Florida

Doors and windows do more than just bring natural light into our homes. They offer a wonderful opportunity to clean out the inside air and enjoy the lovely weather, especially in times like these, when the South Florida winter actually allows for us to do so.

Often I hear in conversation when the temperatures drop that friends run home and open the windows to get a fresh breeze and escape the air conditioned air for a few days or weeks.

Door and windows indeed serve many purposes. There is the connection to the outside as noted with air and light, they provide security to keep unwanted intruders and critters out of the home and they do significantly affect the energy consumption of your space.

A good roof with ample insulation and other external finishes do come first, but the next line of defense are the doors and windows. These are typically the areas where we can control the amount of air moving between the inside and the outside. During hot summer month heat easily leaks through the crevasses and raises the overall amount of inside air to be cooled. Proper installation or weatherization is key to ensure that these much appreciated openings do not contribute to your energy bill. If you have new doors and windows installed, ensure that they are properly caulked and that there are not wholes on the edges. If the windows and doors are exiting go through the frames and caulk them where you have holes or consider weather-strips for the joints. These are very inexpensive fixes that will make a difference. Do not think so? Consider this: if you only have a few air leaks along the frame one could argue that is it minimal and more air goes out of the house just be opening the front door to exit the house. In itself this is a correct thought, HOWEVER. Consider the number of small openings that you have all around the house. Now take them all and merge them into one single opening. This whole will likely be 1 to 3 square feet. Would you like to leave a permanent 12” x 12” whole in your house? That is in essence what improper installation and weatherization does. So before the temperatures rise again, take a moment to check your doors and windows and seal them or get professional help, if preferred.

If thinking about replacing your old leaky windows and doors, this is a great move to help with your energy savings. Consider the basic option for windows (same applies for doors):

A Standard window will be well constructed and reduce significantly the amount of leakage over older ones. To comply with building code hurricane requirements, a standard window does require the installation of shutters.

An impact window is more expensive than a standard window but will eliminate the need for shutters, as it complies with the building code. Impact (high velocity impact) windows also have the added benefit of security as a simple brick or other tool will not break the glass to allow access into the house. Furthermore, impact windows do allow to maintain visual connection during the event of a hurricane.

An energy star window, typically a Low E gas filled window, focuses on reduced heat transmission. Energy star windows are also more expensive than standard windows but will significantly contribute to your energy savings. Consider energy windows especially if your glazing area faces south, southwest or west.

As an alternative to energy star windows tints may be installed over standard windows. I generally do not recommend tints as they are not part of the manufacturers assembly and therefore tend to peal and crack over time. Tints also have some aesthetic drawbacks as well as cleaning challenges. They are a great option for economical quick fixes.

Impact Energy Star windows are the most expensive option but do give you a great deal of benefits; from security to energy savings. They are always my recommended option, if the budget allows for it.

Finally, let’s look at the different styles of windows. Most windows are either wood, alumni or vinyl. There are also combinations of wood with metal cladding and other constellations. Wood windows are without a doubt the most appealing and impressive option, but do require some ongoing maintenance, especially in the South Florida climate. Most economical windows in this part of the country are aluminum windows with manufacturers like PGT (used in the Chamber South project) and CGI (local manufacturer) providing a good value. Aluminum windows easily comply with anchoring requirements are also very easy to install.

PGT Impact Window at Chamber South


Besides the material, there are a few options to consider for style. The two main options are:

Single hung windows are a basic slider, mostly up and down. About 40% of the window actually opens and about 80% has glazing. They are the most economical option and are operated completely manually by simply sliding half of the panel. Connections on single hung windows do tend to wear out and weatherization is important to maintain.

Casement windows are constructed by having the full glass area in a frame that sits in another frame which is attached to the building. The inner frame is hinged on one side and thus fully operational. Casement windows provide about 80% glazing and 85% opening. The weak point for these windows are the hinges to operate the inner frame. They provide an even better weather seal than single hung windows and are easily maintained.

Casement and fixed combination window


Other forms of windows are fixed, awning (these are multiple glazing frames that are operated on a hinge and open forward and out, very typical in older Florida homes) and bay windows (typically a combination of fixed and casement).

Ready to tackle your window upgrade? Miami Dade County does require a permit for window and door replacement. SEA is ready to help with your project. www.SebastianEilert.com





2 responses to “A primer on doors, windows and weatherproofing in South Florida”

  1. french doors Avatar

    Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing many months of hard work due to no back up.

    1. Sebastian Eilert Avatar

      so far so good! sorry to hear baout your problem… not the way blogging should be.

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