The Amazing Removable Post Trick

May 1  |  Windows  |   wcadmin

Innovation – No Problem

We were recently asked to provide a solution to an interesting problem.

It was a basement window at the front of an older home in the Annex area of Toronto. The window was a double in swing casement with a historically detailed center post. The glass was divided into multiple panes. We began to explain that we could faithfully match the details, but the client interrupted and took us to the small back yard to look at the source of the real problem — a sixteen-foot cedar strip canoe. His problem was how to get his pride and joy stored in the basement.

It took some sketching, searching for appropriate parts, and a bit of shop talk  to come up with a solution.

A concealed sliding track allowed the post to be removed. Flush bolts were used to hold the post in place. It slid in and out like a charm!

While under construction, the window was an ‘attraction’ when we took people through the shop on a “cooks tour”. We were almost sad to see her go.

The other day we took a look at a basement window. This time we interrupted the client by saying

— No problem!

Size Matters

July 7  |  Windows  |   wcadmin

How high, low or wide should a window be?

Technology has allowed glass to be made in very large sizes, but do we want to live in a fish bowl. There are many controlling factors such as room size, building code restrictions, but what size should a window be?

This is an interesting question. Try this experiment. Stand at a blank wall at arms lengths. Look straight ahead, and without shifting your eyes attempt to determine your vertical and horizontal focal distances. A friend with a tape measure may need to help you here. The arms length distance is your area of protection.

It is the distance that you keep when talking to someone, unless of course you know this person more intimately. It is also the distance that you feel secure when looking out a window, especially an upper floor.

This focal range varies on the person, but the writer found his range at two feet above the floor to about the eight foot level vertically and about four feet on either side horizontally. Coming any closer to a window changed this perception immediately.

Try another experiment. Hold hands with another adult of a fair difference in height. You will notice that your fingertips are at about the same level, probably a bit more than two feet above the floor. Again this is a level of comfort. Anything below that requires you to stoop, putting you out of balance.

Window-wise anything below this comfort level requires an adjustment in perception. These are some suggestions.

Stand farther away from the opening to increase our focal distance. Not a productive move.

Bring the immediate exterior view closer to you with grading, or plants creating a horizon line within our comfort level.

Provide a visual break such as dividing mullions, muntin bars, leaded glass, or a window seat.

The window could be narrowed to bring it into focal range.

It is these considerations that make a window more than just an opening in a wall.

Hung Windows

April 1  |  Windows  |   wcadmin

Installations into existing frames

Hung windows frames are normally quite deep, because of a wind stop on the exterior and a sash stop on the interior, making them difficult to fit into existing frames.
Installing windows into existing frames is usually done to maintain the interior trim and finishes. It is a solution that has mixed results, especially when dealing with hung windows.

Working with architect Robert Sims on the windows for his 1880’s Cabbagetown home, we looked for a solution that would provide all new material to the exterior, and minimize the effect of fitting the new window into the existing frame. On a single hung window the wind stop is redundant since the upper sash is fixed. We resolved that the interior sash stop could be installed on site. Many sketches later the solution was resolved. We went into production.

The installation became the next important step. The talents of Innovative Building Systems took on the challenge. The existing sashes and brick mould were carefully removed. The new window fit like a glove into the old frame. The installation of the interior sash stops had to be done with care, as they became a working part of the window. New brick mould and an exterior sill piece completed the installation. The results were very pleasing.

We have repeated this detail many times. Each situation needs to be evaluated individually and skilled installation is necessary.

Muntin Bars…

October 1  |  Windows  |   wcadmin

Keeping it historically correct

The Oxford Dictionary tells us that a “muntin” or “munting” is an English derivation of the French word “montant”—a vertical dividing bar, which stems from the verb “monter”—to rise or to mount.

Nevertheless, it describes a wood section that separates window glazing into individual panes, since glass at one time was only available in small pieces, requiring multiple groupings.

The use of plate glass “picture windows” was thought to put us more directly in touch with nature because it was more like an opening, more like air. The opposite is in fact true. A divided window allows different views from different positions in the room, while a large window tends to be the same from all views. Muntin divisions provide a sense of protection and shelter. They provide a multitude of visual snapshots, all different and ever changing.

In the early 1980’s, Windowcraft was instrumental in the development of the authentic muntin bar for thermal glazing. Over the years, we refined the width of the bar, but due to the thermal spacer we could not approach the slender ¾” width of a single glass muntin.

The 1990’s saw the introduction of the “simulated muntin bar”, which was essentially a profile glued to either side of a thermal unit. This movement was spear headed by the larger manufacturers as their answer to the authentic muntin bar.

Normally the word “simulated” does not sit well with us at Windowcraft, unless of course, it is done correctly.

Our approach was straightforward. We used our historic single glass knife to create the inside profile. A trapezoidal shaped piece on the outside replicates authentic putty work. An optional grill between the two layers of glass provides a visual separation. A special mounting tape designed specifically for this purpose adheres the profiles to the glass.

The result is a historically correct detail that has become so popular with clients that we have made it our “house profile”.