|he windows and doors you select will have a profound impact on the architectural identity of your new log home, as well as its performance.|
Windows and doors come in many shapes, sizes, styles and materials. Those that offer better weather protection cost more, but pay off in less maintenance and lower utility bills. They can be ordered from a menu of standard sizes and designs, or be custom-made to your specifications. Custom is typically more expensive.
Exterior doors come in metal, fiberglass, wood or wood composite. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Metal doors are strong, energy efficient, impervious to climatic changes and inexpensive. However, scratches and dents can turn into rust, especially in humid climates.
Fiberglass doors can dish out energy efficiency while accepting stains much like wood doors do. However, they do need to be periodically stained and sealed on all six sides, just like wood.
The natural beauty of wood doors often makes them the first choice among log home buyers. However, if not protected from the elements with routine maintenance, these doors will rot, warp or twist.
Wood-composite doors look like solid wood, but they provide better insulation because of the foam cores inside their wood veneers. They are low maintenance; however, if clumsy movers scar the veneer on these doors, they can be difficult to repair.
Window frame options include wood, aluminum, steel, vinyl and fiberglassor a combination of these materials. Wood tends to be the most popular, simply because it doesn’t conduct cold or allow condensation as much as other materials. However, wood requires routine maintenance.
Wood-clad windows offer the warmth of wood on the inside, with a tough exterior of aluminum or vinyl. The cladding, available in a few stock colors, dramatically reduces maintenance needs.
Aluminum windows are another option that is more durable than wood. They are insulated with a thermal “break” of vinyl and foam insulation. This reduces heat loss and condensation. Finishes protect the aluminum from corrosion, but it can still deteriorate in the salty air in coastal climates.
Vinyl windows are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), with hollow spaces inside for insulation. These windows are low-maintenance, but inexpensive versions have a tendency to distort when exposed to extreme heat and cold, allowing for air leakage.
When it comes to the glass in your windows or doors, manufacturers offer glazing that helps insulate. Typically, well-made windows will have two, or sometimes three, panes of glass sealed together with either air or argon gas between them to act as an insulator. Many manufacturers also offer low-emissivity, or Low-E, coatings on the glass that block ultraviolet rays. This reduces fading of carpets and upholstery and helps keep your home cool on a hot day and warm on a cold day.
Two important ratings to check when buying windows and glazed exterior doors are the R-value and the overall U-value. An R-value measures a material’s resistance to heat transfer; the higher the R-value, the better the insulating properties of the glazing.
The U-value measures overall energy-efficiency. It tells you the rate at which heat flows through the entire window or doorframe and all. The lower the U-value, the more energy-efficient the window or door. An average U-value is fine for warm climates; in cold climates, a lower U-value is worth the premium you are likely to pay for it.