We are seeing history repeat itself as the 19th century industrial-style steel windows are back and making their way into custom residences, luxury storefronts, and public buildings all around the world. The modern version of the steel window has the same classic appearance, but is more energy efficient and versatile than ever before. The look of these iconic, slim framed, vast expanses of glass make the windows a popular choice, and something that will last for several years to come.
Steel frame windows offer huge advantages as they allow for slim sightlines, and maximum structural potential to support large spans of glass. That aesthetically pleasing quality has drawn architects to steel windows for years. Today’s modern thermally broken steel windows are even more attractive to architects and homeowners thanks to the perfect combination of form and function.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to incorporate thermally broken steel windows and doors into your next project, we’ve got you covered. In fact, we’ve got seven reasons steel can’t be beat.
The Top Seven Reasons to Choose Thermally Broken Steel Windows
The beauty of steel windows and doors earns it the number one spot on our list, for good reason. The aesthetic beauty and elegance of steel makes it a highly desirable frame material in both residential and commercial buildings.
Frank Lloyd Wright selected steel for many of his designs, adorning the windows of iconic projects such as the Pennsylvania Fallingwater home and NYC’s Guggenheim Museum with steel.
- Steel is one of the strongest building materials available. That’s why it’s used to build skyscrapers, aircraft, airports, automobiles, and bridges. So just how strong is steel, anyway?
- Steel buildings can withstand hurricane force winds.
- A 1” piece of steel could withstand an impact of approx. 30 mph before it bent. Steel’s ability to hold heavy loads and bend without breaking makes it a desirable material in the event of an earthquake or car crash.
When it comes to windows, steel’s structural integrity is three times greater than aluminum, and the material’s physical capabilities are nothing less than magnificent. Because of steel's sheer strength, the design potential is extensive, and seen through the use of floor-to-ceiling glass walls, expansive pocket doors, and towering 14’ entryway French doors.
Steel’s not only strong, it’s durable and long-lasting. Many century-old steel windows are still hard at work today. Unlike other frame materials, steel does not shrink or expand in temperature fluctuations therefore eliminating the chances of cracking and warping. Steel is not vulnerable to termites, and it won’t rot, crack, or split.
Generally, there are only a few reasons you could find to replace an older steel window. The best reason would be to take advantage of the new window technologies that improve thermal performance.
The only thing better than a steel window is a thermally broken steel window. Anytime a metal is used to frame a window or door, it presents the problem of thermal conductivity. Even though steel has a lower rate of thermal conductivity compared to other metals, such as aluminum, it will still transfer hot or cold. Which means extreme hot or cold on the exterior of a window frame could transfer to the interior frame, and vice versa.
Thermally broken windows provide an elegant and modern solution to the issue of thermal transfer. A thermal barrier, or thermal break, is inserted between the interior and exterior frames. When hot or cold energy comes into contact with the metal on the outside, it dissipates at the thermal barrier.
When you combine thermally broken steel window frames with modern glass techniques such as multiple panes of glass, the result is a window with timeless beauty, long-lasting strength and durability, and energy efficiency that can meet the ever-increasing stringent building code requirements.
Low Cost of Ownership
There is a cost to pay for a building material that is both aesthetically pleasing, long-lasting, strong, durable, and energy efficient. Steel can sometimes be one of the most expensive window materials, and, by some estimates, costs about four times more than aluminum. While steel may not be the cheapest material for a project, it actually has a very low cost of ownership in the long run.
The average lifespan for an aluminum window frame is approximately 15 - 20 years. Vinyl and wood windows may last a bit longer with the right care. But steel window frames can stand for generations.
The inherent strength and durability associated with steel windows and doors results in a product that outperforms any other window material on the market. When you consider the low maintenance costs, longevity, and durability of steel, the total cost of ownership makes it an attractive alternative to other materials.
Safety and Security
Steel is the safe choice for many building applications. Whether you’re designing a home where a family will dwell, or a commercial building where many will work, shop, or visit, steel is ideal to keep anyone who walks through the door safe and secure.
Steel is the material of choice for buildings to withstand forces of nature such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Steel windows can be designed to meet the most stringent building requirements for both blast resistance and impact resistance.
Steel’s strength makes it the perfect building material for detention centers and other buildings where security and window strength are top priorities.
There are few other building materials that possess the versatility of steel. Steel can accept a wide variety of specialized patina finishes, and be used in numerous operational large glass openings including swing, slide, fold and pivot types. From modern to traditional, craftsman to colonial, victorian, gothic and everything in between, steel windows and doors can complement any architectural design.
Every architect has his or her own reasons for choosing thermally broken steel windows and doors for a project. For some, the choice comes down to energy efficiency and thermal performance. For others, it’s a need for unparalleled strength and long-lasting durability. For many, it’s the elegant beauty and versatility that steel offers. No matter the reason, there’s no doubt that steel will continue to be one of the most widely used building materials in the world, and the architect’s number one choice for world-class windows and doors.