Earlier this year at the International Builders' Show, Marvin Windows and Doors introduced the operable Ultimate Double Hung Magnum window that measures a whopping 10 feet high by 5 feet wide. The introduction "is exciting because it's the first wood window to offer incredibly large sizes that perform to commercial standards," said Thomas Goetz, Marvin product planner.
This is big news–literally–and Marvin wasn't the only manufacturer to make such an announcement. Hurd Windows and Doors unveiled the Kingsview single-hung, which also measures 10 feet tall.
It's not surprising that windows are growing beyond the imagination. Even as families are getting smaller, houses are getting larger, and it was only a matter of time until windows and doors caught up. In addition, increasingly popular contemporary design often calls for extra-large views to the outdoors. "There is a serious demand for these products," says Rod Clark, windows product marketing manager for Jeld-Wen. "Architecturally, it is in vogue, and I think you will see even bigger sizes."
Homeowners crave mammoth windows to match extra-large front doors, and manufacturers are working overtime to oblige. "Home buyers want their exterior openings to match their interior openings," says Tom Sinning, director of dealer sales at Marvin. "It's for the aesthetics of the building, and the larger window makes the interior appear larger" because it allows light to penetrate deep into the house.
On the down side, pros familiar with such windows say installation headaches can be as colossal as the units themselves. "When you're installing something like that, you have to take your time," says Jack Crimmins, president of Crimmins Construction in Wayland, Mass. "There's so much glass and weight that everything needs to be thought out and installed properly. They're time-consuming to install properly."
Plus, there's the logistics issue of getting such a humongous window to the site and into place. "We're talking a 10-foot window here ... It takes four people to move it," says John Michael, president of Country Living Construction in Gurnee, Ill.
With the added cost of an extra-large window, many homeowners think twice before specing such a big-ticket item. "Once you get past the standard-size window, weight and shipping prices escalate. And because of the size, shipping and handling damage is possible," Michael says.
Once they are in place, most pros say they are worth the hassle. "I think that in the right situation they can look really sharp. They let in a lot of light from outside so you can take in a nice view. When done right, they can be quite awe-inspiring," Crimmins says.
George Digman, director of research and development at Kolbe & Kolbe, says consumers have been interested in larger-sized windows for years, but concerns over high energy bills kept many from actually specing them. Now thanks to energy-efficient innovations such as low-E glass, argon gas filling, and double and triple glazing, Digman says, "the pendulum has swung again."
Updated hardware allows homeowners to operate massive windows without much strain. Kolbe & Kolbe says that its Sterling double-hung, for example, uses a spring balance system so it is easy to operate. Meanwhile, Marvin's Ultimate double-hung has a spiral balance that carries 70 percent of the sash's weight.
Now that manufacturers can deliver giant windows, consumers are even more demanding, further pushing the limits of what's possible. "Some of the things being requested of manufacturers are more challenging," Clark says.
For example, even home buyers in hurricane-prone areas are inquiring about super-sized units. "There are a lot of large homes going up in coastal areas, so the pressure has been on us to go larger," Digman says. And consumers want these units to be energy efficient, too.
It is likely that the demand for colossal windows will continue whether a homeowner lives on the wide-open prairie or on the coast. "We have noticed the same requests in the metro markets, too," Clark adds. "[Those homeowners] only have a little access to the outdoors, but they still want to bring in as much as they can."
This story first appeared in Builder magazine. Megha Rajagopalan contributed to this report.
Kolbe & Kolbe. Sterling is a 10-by-4-foot double-hung window with a jamb liner that completely hides the vinyl components. There is no tilt latch applied to the interior sash of the window, and the multifunctional lock incorporates a dual-positioning lever that allows the sash to be unlocked and tilted in for cleaning. It is available in numerous wood species and over 20 exterior colors. 715-842-5666. www.kolbe-kolbe.com.
Jeld-Wen. This 7-foot casement window can be customized with divided lights in a variety of muntin bar widths, two profiles, and a host of other design options. It is available in 39 metal-clad exterior colors with Kynar 500 and factory-applied interior trim options in solid pine AuraLast wood, mahogany, Pacific Coast red alder, and vertical-grain Douglas fir. It is shown here with laminated glass. 800-877-9482. www.jeld-wen.com.
Marvin. The Ultimate Double Hung Magnum is a wood window that offers commercial performance, the manufacturer says. Measuring 10 feet tall by 5 feet wide, the window features a spiral balance system that allows it to operate smoothly and easily, the company says. It is available in various species, in 19 aluminum-clad exterior colors, and with a variety of glazing options. 888-537-8266. www.marvin.com.
Andersen. Because ceilings are getting higher, the manufacturer has expanded the size of its 400 series double-hung windows to 7 feet 8 inches high by 3 feet 9 inches wide. Builders can now choose from 18 new sizes. The windows can be specified with a standard two-tone color combination as well as a variety of other options, such as grilles between the glass. 800-426-4261. www.andersenwindows.com.
Pella. The company produces aluminum-clad wood windows in standard sizes up to 10 feet tall in the Architect and Designer lines. Larger custom sizes also are available. The taller windows also are available in the new Impervia line. Designed to withstand weather extremes, Impervia products are made of the firm's exclusive Duracast, the strongest, most durable material available for windows and patio doors, claims the maker. 800-374-4758. www.pella.com.