Steel Windows and Doors

“Nerves of Steel” Required

Steel windows and doors are rising in popularity as homeowners clamor for sleek, timeless beauty.  Whether new construction, remodel, or replacement projects, large expanse of glass and slim profiles are highly desired. 

However, choosing a “look” for your home and choosing a product are often two completely different exercises.  While many Houston homeowners think they want steel windows and doors, once they do the research, what they truly desire is a steel “look”.  The cost, high maintenance, and other issues associated with steel windows and doors may require “nerves of steel”.      

The Texas Gulf Coast, including Houston, is not an ideal environment for steel windows and doors.  As we all know, steel is a natural conductor of heat and cold. Windows must have a thermal break to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer months.  Steel windows and doors tend to condensate, obstructing the view and allowing unwanted moisture into the space.  

The extreme temperatures and high humidity in the Texas Gulf Coast, including Houston, is not an ideal environment for many steel window and door products.  Steel is a natural conductor of heat and cold. Windows must have a thermal break to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer months.  While most steel window and door manufacturers offer thermally broken options, many do not, which results in poor thermal performance and condensation which obstructs the view and allows unwanted moisture into your home. 

Besides the temperature extremes of Houston, the high humidity, swimming pools, lakes, and beaches, all popular in the Houston area, can cause steel to corrode and rust if finishes are damaged and the steel is exposed. Many steel products are pre-finished to help protect the steel. However, any scratch or knick can expose the steel to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel options are available through select steel window and door manufacturers, but they carry a hefty price tag.

With any new or remodel project, the weight of steel may also factor into your cost. Additional reinforcement may be required in some cases.  In new construction, reinforcement accommodations can more easily be made. However, in a remodel, the structural requirements may carry a much higher price tag. Some steel windows are sold and delivered without glazing due to the extreme weight.  This burdens the builder, installation company or homeowner with the task of field glazing, which adds both time and money to the process.

Installation of steel is complicated to say the least. The sheer weight of the product, and the fact that it has “no give” makes it one of the most difficult and expensive fenestration products to install.   Once installed, maintenance can be a daunting task.  While you won’t have to paint the windows and doors, the hardware and any exposed steel must be oiled frequently to avoid rust and corrosion. Check for scratches, knicks and dents which could expose the steel. In the Houston area, that oiling can be twice as often due to the high humidity and harsh summer sun. 

The charming look of steel windows and doors can be had without the high price tag and costly maintenance.  Many manufacturers of aluminum windows and doors now offer simulated steel.  Homeowners are loving the simulated steel windows and doors which often cost at least 50% less than steel, are energy efficient, and virtually maintenance free.  

Large Expanse Glass, Moving Glass Walls

Western Window Systems offers simulated steel moving glass walls and windows.  These beautiful architecturally designed window systems reach new heights of luxury and refinement with clean, narrow profiles to keep glass big and maximize the amount of natural light.  From traditional projects with factory-style windows and doors to modern minimalist looks featuring large panes of glass, there is nearly limitless expression with simulated steel.  Custom moving glass walls and windows can go taller and wider than expected partly due to the fact that  aluminum is approximately ⅓ the weight of steel.  

Simulated steel windows and doors.  Beautiful elegance, 1/2 the price and maintenance free.
Lake property near Houston courtesy of Western Window Systems

The narrow, clean profiles are design-forward with fine details like beveled glass stops and .875” simulated divided lites (SDLs) to emulate a steel putty glaze.  Simulated steel doors and windows easily integrate to form a unified look. Pocketing, non-pocketing, bi-parting, and 90-degree configurations are available. High performing track systems with sealed stainless steel ball bearing rollers and Quad-Zilla rollers for extreme sizes and heavy glass types make for ease of operation.  System automation is available for effortless operation.  Concealed locking systems add to the sleek appearance. 

The simulated steel products offer superior performance and certified by the AAMA.  They are built with a signature aluminum extrusion design, across-the-board low U-value ratings, and low-E argon-filled dual pane glass to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer.  Western Window Systems’ thermally broken simulated steel line is all about reducing energy consumption.  A proprietary Insulbar profile assists in increased thermal performance and strength.  All product families are NFRC-tested to a design pressure rating of 50 and support laminated and security glass essential for noise reduction.  These products come fully glazed so calling a glass company is not needed.  This further reduces the handling, installation time, and cost. 

Architecturally Designed

Kolbe Windows and Doors offers the VistaLuxe® Collection AL line which was collaboratively developed with architects for designs that emphasize clean lines, coordinated profiles and multiple configurations.  As an alternative to steel, or an option to use in conjunction with steel products, Kolbe’s VistaLuxe AL Line offers thermally broken all-aluminum windows and doors for energy performance.  Designed for flexibility, functionality, and endless style choices, maximum sizes also allow for large expanses of glass.

Powder-coated or anodized aluminum interior and exterior finishes are virtually maintenance free. Window styles include tilt turns and hoppers which are a modern twist on classic European windows,  push-out and crank-out casement and awning, and direct sets for large openings and generous viewing areas. Door styles include swinging doors, pivot doors, folding doors, multi-slide doors which are also offered in floor-to-ceiling styles, and lift and slide doors. 

Door panels can have widths up to 10 feet and heights up to 12 feet with minimal sight lines.  Multi-slide doors offer corner, stacking and pocketing solutions.  Direct set windows with  dimensions up to 7 feet by 12 feet, offer multiple configurations and options including 90-degree corner units. 

Kolbe offers geographically designed glazing options to provide optimum energy efficiency. Low-E is a “smart” coating that reduces energy transfer through the insulated glass unit.  The result is reduced heating and cooling costs throughout the year.  Low-E coatings also reduce the potential for condensation, as well as provide protection against fading of furniture, fabrics, and carpeting.  Tempered glass is available to address safety concerns or hurricanes, especially important in the Houston area.  Neat+ is a glass coating that harnesses the sun’s UV rays to break down greenhouse gases, other pollutants and loosens the dirt so water can rinse it away, leaving windows cleaner, longer.  A special sputter-coating process makes the glass smooth, so the water “sheets off” more readily than it would on uncoated glass, allowing you to spend less time cleaning.  

Aluminum Clad and Replacement Pocket Windows

Windsor Windows and Doors offers a tall putty grille on their Pinnacle and Revive Series that emulates steel.  These wood clad windows are aluminum on the exterior with wood interior to give the coveted steel look on the exterior of the home and a versatile interior.  The exterior is a heavy-duty .050 extruded aluminum cladding.  It is sturdier and more resistant to damage including chips and dents.  Premium wood construction, one of the most energy efficient materials available, graces the interior.  A thermally-broken frame further enhances the energy efficiency.  Windsor offers Super Spacer® Technology for a dual-seal moisture barrier which helps the windows meet or exceed ENERGY STAR® guidelines in all zones.    The Revive Series offers similar wood clad windows in a pocket style for replacement projects.  Installation is quick and minimally invasive with pocket windows.  Replacement pocket windows use existing window frames, so interior trim, plaster, paint or wallpaper, and exterior siding, stucco, or brickwork, aren’t disturbed.  

In Conclusion

The beauty of steel windows and doors doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag, construction reinforcements, installation complications, high maintenance, and longevity issues.  While steel may be a good option for windows and doors in other parts of the world, the Houston climate with its high humidity and temperature extremes is not a good fit.  High quality aluminum, simulated steel products like those offered by Western, Kolbe and Windsor with slim profiles and sleek designs can give Houston homeowners the timeless beauty they desire that will last a lifetime. No need for “nerves of steel” with great simulated steel windows and doors.   

Renaissance Windows and Doors is proud to represent Western Window Systems, Kolbe, and Windsor along with other top window and door manufacturers. Our team of experts are second to none in the industry and deliver exceptional service at every step, from selecting the perfect windows and doors for your project to delivery and installation. Call Renaissance Windows and Doors today at 713-863-9988 to schedule a consultation.