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Storm Windows Buying Guide

Storm windows are an economical, easy way to increase the efficiency of older, single-pane windows. They reduce the flow of outside air into your home, and the airspace between storm windows and existing windows acts as added insulation.

Exterior window image.

What Are Storm Windows

Storm windows are mounted as additional windows, usually to the outside of your home’s primary windows. They aren't replacement windows, but people often install storm windows in lieu of replacement windows to achieve similar benefits at a lower cost.

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Benefits of Installing Storm Windows

Installing storm windows can be a simple, inexpensive way to increase the efficiency of your home's existing windows. There are many benefits to installing storm windows, including:

Increased Energy Efficiency

  • Reduces infiltration of outside air, helping your HVAC unit spend less energy to maintain desired temperature

Additional Insulation

  • Helps you stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter with added air space between primary and storm windows

Improved Exterior Appearance

  • Offers several finish options to complement the color of the home’s exterior

Protection of Primary Windows

  • Lengthens the life of seals on insulated windows
  • Protects from damage due to prolonged exposure to dust, light, wind and other harmful elements

Reduction of Street Noise

  • Helps deaden sounds from busy streets, nearby construction, loud neighbors, barking dogs, etc.

Easy Installation

  • Can usually be installed in an afternoon, depending on number of windows
  • Doesn't generally require carpentry

Types of Storm Windows

Different types of windows.

There are four basic configurations of storm windows: two-track, triple-track, two-track slider and basement (also called picture) storm windows.

Two-Track

In a two-track configuration, the outer track contains a half-screen on the bottom portion and the outer pane of glass on the top portion; neither the screen nor the pane slides up or down. The inside track contains the inside pane, which can be raised to allow fresh air to enter the home through the screen.

When shopping for two-track storm windows, look for these features for better performance:

  • Adjustable ventilation stops on inside track
  • Removable glass and screen for easy cleaning
  • Predrilled holes for easier installation
  • Quality weather stripping for reduced air infiltration

Two-track storm windows are for use with double-hung windows.

Triple-Track

In a triple-track configuration, the two windowpanes and half-screen each rest in their own track, so each sash can move independently. This configuration adds flexibility, giving you the capability to pass items through the open window when necessary. You can also move both glass panes to the bottom and the screen to the top for effective cross-ventilation.

When shopping for triple-track storm windows, look for these features for better performance:

  • Removable glass and screen for easy cleaning
  • Predrilled holes for easier installation
  • Quality weather stripping for reduced air infiltration
  • Stabilizer bar for added strength

Triple-track storm windows are for use with double-hung windows.

Two-Track Slider

Two-track slider storm windows are just like regular two-track storm windows, except they open horizontally instead of vertically.

When shopping for two-track storm windows, look for these features for better performance:

  • Adjustable ventilation stops on inside track
  • Removable glass and screen for easy cleaning
  • Predrilled holes for easier installation
  • Quality weather stripping for reduced air infiltration

Two-track sliders are for use with slider windows.

Basement (Picture)

Basement storm windows have only one pane, similar to a typical picture window. The pane is held in place by thumb latches on the outside of the frame for easy removal.

When shopping for basement storm windows, look for these features for better performance:

  • Removable glass for easy cleaning or ventilation
  • Built-in screen to keep insects out when pane is removed
  • Predrilled holes for easier installation
  • Quality weather stripping for reduced air infiltration
  • Stabilizer bar for added strength

Basement storm windows are usually available only in the following sizes:

  • 32 1/16-in. (w) x 14 1/16-in. (h)
  • 32 1/16-in. (w) x 18 1/16-in. (h)
  • 32 1/16-in. (w) x 22 1/16-in. (h)
Good to Know

To make sure you choose quality windows, examine each corner. They should be strong and airtight. Corner joints that overlap are preferable to those that are mitered. If you can see through the joints, they'll leak air.

Low-E Glass for Storm Windows

All types of storm windows mentioned above should be available with Low-emissive (Low-E) glass to achieve even greater energy efficiency.

Low-E glass is window glass that has been treated with an invisible metal or metallic oxide coating, creating a surface that reflects heat, while allowing light to pass through. This energy-saving technology first became available in 1979 and continues to grow in popularity. Windows treated with Low-E coatings are proven to reduce energy consumption, decrease fading of fabrics, such as window treatments, and increase overall comfort in your home.

Storm Window Colors

Storm windows are commonly available in white, brown and mill (a silvery, aluminum color). Some manufacturers also produce storm windows in almond. You should have no problem finding storm windows in a color that complements your home.

Measuring for Storm Windows

To ensure a good fit, it's important to have accurate measurements for every window in your home. Although some windows may appear to be the same size, it's best to measure each one individually.

  • To determine the width, measure from the inside of the moulding on one side of the window to the inside of the moulding on the other side of the window. Measure at the bottom, middle and top of the window. Use the narrowest measurement for the width of your storm window.
  • To determine the height, measure from the sill to the inside of the moulding at the top of the window. Measure at the left, middle and right of the window. Use the shortest measurement for the height of your storm window.
  • Using the smallest measurements ensures that the storm window's flanges will fit inside the exterior trim.

After You Install Storm Windows

Man installing storm windows.

It’s important to examine your storm windows after installation, as poor installation can lead to misalignment, leaks or other issues that can negatively affect the performance of your storm windows. Make sure the movable window and screen sashes move smoothly and seal tightly when closed, and check to ensure there's a tightly caulked seal around all edges of the windows.