It is amazing how things come full circle. It seems the wooden storm window, which fell into obscurity after the mass availability of their aluminum counterpart many years ago, is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. The aluminum storm, namely the triple-track storm window, found favor originally due to its fantastic functionality and low maintenance burden. The wooden storm sash simply could not meet the desires at the time.
The aluminum triple-track storm was/is attached to the building and never needed to be removed. It contained two glass sashes and one screen all within the unit. If someone wanted fresh air they simply slid the lower sash up and slid down the screen sash. No ladders and no trips to the basement. They both could deliver well on energy efficiency but the aluminum made it so easy to let in fresh air. And fresh air was so very important then. With air conditioning being such a luxury item, particularly central air, accessing fresh air easily was key.
Now it seems the tables have turned a bit. The large majority of homes are centrally cooled. Due to allergy concerns, many folks opt to keep their windows closed and utilize their HVAC unit to condition and filter all of their air. The desire for accessing fresh outside air has diminished greatly. The aluminum storm’s competitive advantage doesn’t seem as advantageous and its weaknesses are far more apparent.
If you remove functionality from the equation, you are really left with three other parameters: efficiency, maintenance, and aesthetics. Efficiency is mostly a draw. Aesthetics is a resounding victory for the wooden storm. They are beautiful while aluminum storms are utilitarian. Maintenance? Well that gets a bit interesting. Wood rots and aluminum does not. There is no getting around that. Yet, wood only rots when its protective paint layer fails. Although you do not need to paint your aluminum storms, you do need to paint the wooden trim and casings around your window. If you have to paint that anyway, painting the wooden storm isn’t all that much of a burden. Now, if your casings are capped in aluminum, I would highly recommend removing it for reasons I will explain in a future post. Finally, wood storm windows take paint very well while painting aluminum storms leaves a lot to be desired.
I am personally torn between the two. An aluminum storm is highly efficient and relatively low-cost. I always say in terms of energy efficiency it is probably your best bang for your buck. It is certainly hard to argue with that. However, the wood storm window is so much more pleasing on the eye. When you see them they just look right. But they also come with a considerably higher price tag in the range of $100 more per window. We gladly offer both services to our customers and in the end it makes no difference to us which one they choose. I am just happy to see folks increasingly interested in the wooden storm sash.