Experience with Allied, Spencerworks, or Adams storm windows?

farmgirlinkyApril 21, 2010

Our deliberations continue. There are 40 solid old windows in our Connecticut house, 6-over-6 and 6-over-9, single-glazed true divided lights with pretty old narrow muntons, that we now plan to restore one facade at a time, replacing ugly triple-track storms when we paint the exterior (does that sound like a reasonable plan?).

With THS help and more research I am interested in anyone's experience with Allied or SpencerWorks or Adams custom storm windows. Which looks best? What mix of storm window types would make sense in an urban Connecticut setting (considering security, maintenance, appearance not necessarily in that order)? 'Cause it occurs to me that ground-floor storms might be safer if the screen panel in summer were placed in the upper sash opening. And maybe a hinged single-light storm would make sense over the two large Palladian windows?


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It seems that we are both in CT doing the same old window /storm research. I have looked into Allied, adams, Spenserworks, and custom. We removed the old, very ugly triple track on our 1917 Craftsman when we painted the exterior this fall. Then the winter came--yes even with tightening up of some of the windows, we need storms, Spenser seems the most versatile, with the movable bottom sash. I keep opening windows all year, and don't want to have to take out panels. We may just do screens on some of the other windows, as this ia an expensive project. This is much more complex, with measuring, etc, than I had thought. What have you decided?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 9:26AM
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Hi, Cathy,

Here is a link to another thread that drew some comments from xoldtimecarpenter, a GW sage whose comments about windows in general are very helpful:


We haven't moved an inch on the storm window front, because 1) all our time and resources have been swallowed by a kitchen renovation, and 2) I was reminded that it didn't make sense to replace the storm windows until we painted the exterior of the house. Before we paint the exterior of the house we would like to replace rotting porches....and so it goes.

But I am thinking that Spenserworks seems mighty appealing. I wonder, too, whether they can customize which sash is removable. For instance, would it be possible to make the upper sash the movable, screened one? Probably not is my guess, maybe for rain issues, but in urban Connecticut it would be nice to be able to open just the top sash for ventilation of the ground floor, just for security reasons.

Two Palladian windows, one on the second floor landing and one in a third-floor gable, present challenges, too. We would like for both of them to remain operable. One of them is double-hung (and very large), and one of them is smaller and is hinged on one side, swinging to the inside of the house. Right now neither one has a storm window: major drafts. My husband works next to the third floor window, and is a solid block of ice at the end of the day.

Let me know how your research progresses, and I'll do the same for you! But you might be closer to pulling the trigger than we are. Figuratively.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 3:59PM
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I don't know that we have ever used Adams windows, but Allied and Spencer windows are good quality products. The upscale choice is clearly Spencer, but at $200+ per window, these can get rather pricey.

A good quality aluminum combination storm/screen window will do the job for you. The trick is the "good quality" part.

In or near your town is a storm window manufacturer. Look in the Yellow Pages or the Web for storm windows. In almost every case the local guy makes a very good quality combination storm window for not much money -- figure less than $80.00 per window -- and you can pick them up, avoiding delivery and shipping charges. He cn't compete with the box box stores on price, so he competes on quality, and usually wins.

He will also have a showroom of some kind to display his windows. There you can look at them. Never buy any window sight unseen. If they seem flimsy, they are. Look for heavy gauge aluminum and ease of operation. If they are hard to operate in the store, they will be harder to operate in your house. There's a lot of debate over whether mechanically joined or welded windows are better. We have never seen much difference -- but we did see a window last year that seems to have been glued together with some kind of epoxy -- not a good window. They fell apart when we took them down.

We buy our windows painted white, or, if we can get them, just primed (most fabricators will do that for you). Priming aluminum is something best left to the factory.

Once we get them to the house, we take them apart and paint the frames (but not the sashes) with a spray paint that exactly matches the house trim. The paint is easy to come by. Take a piece of painted trim to Sherwin-Williams (the commercial store that caters to pro painters -- not the neighborhood S-W store) and ask them to match and mix up the color in spray cans with a formulation for metal. Figure one can for every 5 windows. For most houses 5 cans is enough -- and in most stores this is also the minimum order.

Lightly sand the frames with a wet sanding sponge -- you can get these at the paint store. You want to rough up the factory paint a little so the new paint will adhere well. Wipe clean, then wipe again with alcohol. Spray two coats on the frames, let dry between coats and then for 24 hours. Reassemble the sashes and frames (you did remember to mark the sashes so you know which sash goes in which frame, yes? Use masking tape and a Sharpie.)

Now the windows do not have the aluminum look, and in fact virtually disappear against the house trim.

Install the windows in accordance with the manufacturer's instruction or, do it our way:

First, dry fit each window before you start to install it to make sure it fits.

Clean the frame and window trim with alcohol to remove all grease, dirt, etc. Let dry 15 seconds. Apply a generous bead of pure silicon caulk to the frame. Silicon remains flexible for centuries, yet, if you need to remove the window, you can break the silicon seal with a putty knife. DO NOT seal the weep holes at the bottom of the window. These allow any water or condensation trapped behind the storm window to get out rather than sitting there and rotting your sill. By the way -- the weep holes are DOWN. I can't tell you how many storm windows we have seen installed upside down. When handling the window, always keep the down side down. This reduces the risk you will install it upside down. Even pros do this on occasion. Certainly we have.

Press the window firmly into place. You want to ensure that the silicon has good contact with the window trim all around the perimeter. Now screw down the window alternating from right to left, top to bottom, until all the screws are installed. Do not omit screws. The window has all those screw holes for a reason. Alternating, just like you tighten the lug nuts on a car wheel, keeps you from bending the window by tightening all the screws on one side before you put the screws in the other.

When you are done, go inside and test the window. If it binds, then most likely it is twisted. Loosen screws just a little bit at a time until it operates smoothly. Now, still from the inside, put another tidy bead of silicon where the storm joins the window trim. Once this is done, there is very little risk of air infiltration around the edges of the window.

Figure one weekend to paint, the next weekend to install. It's not hard -- in fact, it's only a five or six beer job.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 11:34PM
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Thanks xoldtimecarpenter! That was at least two sixpacks' worth of good advice.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 8:47PM
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