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Triple-Hung Windows: A Modern Classic

(HIT) - Windows began as mere slits in ancient fortifications. Their principal functions in medieval times were to let in light and air and, in warfare, to let out spears and arrows. The word window is itself derived from "wind eye" or "wind hole."

With the hole came the inspiration for glazing, the earliest being thin sheets of mica. But tiny sections of glass cast in shallow molds soon followed and sash windows, casement and double hung, were used as early as 1670. However, the poor and middle classes continued to use oiled paper or fabric to illuminate their homes for the next several generations.

"The first window glass was hand blown then cut into lights, or panes. In the 18th century, the 12 pane window was consistently used in Europe and North America. The knob that remained where the glass blower attached his pipe—called the ‘bull’s eye’—was sold for transoms over doorways because it was less desirable than the flat sheets but too precious to be thrown away," says Frank Marvin, president of Marvin Windows & Doors.

Early windows in the United States were carefully handcrafted, displaying fine woodworking and a frugal use of glass. Glass, a rare commodity before the age of mass production, was still made by hand in small rectangles and was very expensive.

After World War II, methods to measure window performance (air and water infiltration and thermal conductivity) were finally developed.

Because of the classic simplicity of early American architecture, windows are often the single most important exterior feature of older homes and commercial buildings. Recognizing that, manufacturers like Marvin Windows & Doors have developed modern replacements for classic window styles. Triple Hung windows and other unique designs that replicate historic windows are now available with the added benefit of modern efficiencies.

Let In Light—And Air—With Modern Triple Hung Windows

The idea of a triple-hung window is not new. One of the earliest homeowners to recognize its benefits was Thomas Jefferson, United States President, diplomat, author—and architect.

Jefferson incorporated the triple-hung window design into his own home, Monticello, now an historic landmark building near Charlottesville, Va. The placement of the windows allowed Jefferson to use natural mountain breezes for ventilation and cooling during the summer months and, equally important, to capture natural light for his favorite pastimes, reading and writing.

Is your dark, stuffy house getting you down? Do you want to build a new home or room addition that emphasizes natural light and fresh air? If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s time to take another look at triple-hung windows.

Modern triple-hung windows are unique because the design offers better floor to ceiling ventilation. As the bottom sash is raised, the top sash automatically lowers, allowing air to pass through both the top and bottom of the window. Other triple-hung windows, including Jefferson’s, raise from the floor to cover the top sash which is typically fixed.

"Our counterbalance system lets warm, stale air go out at the top and fresh air come in below—much like the traditional, time-honored double-hung window. But when a triple-hung window is fully open, the top and bottom sash align over the middle sash for a dramatically clean, uniform appearance that brings outdoors right into the room," says Frank Marvin, president of Marvin Windows & Doors.

Marvin’s research and development department first designed and engineered the company’s Triple Hung window in 1991 at the request of a well-known singer and musician who wanted a large window with at least two working sash for his home.

"The client wanted to frame enormous, breathtaking views with windows that actually opened," says Jerry Dalen, a research and development technician with Marvin Windows & Doors. "We designed our Triple Hung window to operate very smoothly, eliminating springs and balances, and added characteristics we felt would appeal to more typical homeowners. For example, the window hardware is concealed in vinyl tracks along the edges of the jambs, the two operating sash tilt into the room for cleaning and the three sash can be removed from their tracks altogether."

The result, says Dalen, is an elegant multipurpose window that, considering its large size, is easy to maintain and is energy efficient. "The Triple Hung window fills clerestory space, admitting light to lofty areas or vaulted rooms. Joined together in floor to ceiling heights, it’s a great choice for sun-rooms, breezeways or windowed walls. And, flanking entry doors, it can add curb appeal to almost any home," he says.

Whether building or remodeling, Marvin’s Triple Hung window is a good product to consider when selecting windows that not only delight your senses, but also contribute to the lasting value and versatility of your home. For example, enclosing a porch can create additional room out of existing space. But by using windows more generously, that same room can instill a greater feeling of being outdoors, with the benefit of temperate year-round conditions.

According to Jamie Parash, spokeswoman for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, windows like the Triple Hung play a major role in satisfying the growing consumer demand for open, airy spaces.

"Homeowners are installing larger windows in virtually every room of the house. They are replacing the ‘picture window’ of the 1960’s with huge multiple units, many with arched and round tops, to bring in more light. The focus really is on the window. Curtains, drapes and blinds are being kept to a minimum, especially in rooms with vaulted and cathedral ceilings, so that the beauty of the window itself is apparent," says Parash.

Windows, more than any other design aspect, add overall character to buildings. Parash says money spent on windows is money well spent. "Windows do double duty for the consumer, effecting both the exterior and interior of a home. From the street, they can project an image that is graceful, clean and well maintained. From inside the house, they can make rooms look and feel larger. In addition to updated kitchens and baths, it is daylight and simplicity that will increase the value of homes," she says.

According to Frank Marvin, the Triple Hung window, a perfected version of a 200-year-old window style, is an ideal solution for bringing in light. And, in addition to providing a natural alternative to air-conditioning, it adds high performance to its list of efficiencies.
"We’ve taken a classic, understated design and made it better. Our Triple Hung window meets or exceeds industry standards for air infiltration and wind lead. Three-quarter-inch insulating glass is standard, with a list of options that includes authentic divided panes for historic buildings and traditional home designs and energy efficient Lowe-E glass with Argon gas," says Marvin.

To reduce drafts, the company applies high-grade weatherstripping at the header, both check rails and along the bottom sash. Interior ‘energy panels’ are also available for both top and bottom sash. Consumers will like the optional full exterior screens for use in the more bug infested regions of the country.

Marvin Windows & Doors builds the Triple Hung to homeowner specifications. The window can be ordered singly or positioned side by side in multiple units. Factory applied finishes are available, including four standard and 50 optional colors. Heights range from six to 12 feet and up; widths from three feet and more. Jamb extensions for different wall thicknesses are also available.

"Best of all, because of its unique engineering and heavy construction, the Triple Hung can be ordered in very large sizes, with many glazing options. It’s suitable for both residential and commercial use. Aesthetically and economically, it can make a restoration or remodeling project, a room addition or an entirely new home a better value," says Frank Marvin.

"This window is one of a kind," he emphasizes. "Not only is the Triple Hung practical, it is lovely to look at. Mr. Jefferson would have like that."

"The correct style of window will rarely be standard. It may seem like a minor detail when making window selections, but even a slightly thicker glazing bar or six panes instead of eight could make a substantial difference when the windows are actually installed," says Marvin. "Our replacement windows combine authentic designs with all the advantages of draft-free double glass to maintain the character of older and traditional-style buildings, while conserving energy and preserving warmth."

Marvin Windows & Doors is the nation’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood windows and doors. The company offers over 8,000 standard sizes and a virtually unlimited number of custom sizes, shapes and options, including the Triple Hung window, now available through Marvin’s national network of dealers and distributors.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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