Soft-Lite Windows Announces New Vice President of Operations

Soft-Lite Windows recently announced the appointment of Don Fisher as its new Vice President of Operations, making Soft-Lite’s management team even stronger and more dynamic in the marketplace.

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Soft-Lite Windows Acquired by Harvey Building Products

Harvey Building Products announced it has acquired Soft-Lite Windows. Both companies
manufacture windows, while Harvey also distributes siding, roofing, decking and many other building materials.

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Soft-Lite Windows Named 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award Winner by EPA

Soft-Lite Windows has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a winner of the prestigious 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award for its continued leadership in protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency achievements.

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Soft-Lite Windows Introduces New “Barcelona” Line of Hurricane Windows for Maximum Protection & Energy Efficiency

Soft-Lite Windows has introduced an all-new line of hurricane windows that is especially
designed to protect homeowners and their homes from airborne debris during hurricane-strength storms and other forms of violent weather. The new Barcelona Series includes double and single-hung models with tilt-in sashes, lift-out sliding windows, casement and awning models, and picture windows.

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Soft-Lite Windows Named a Crystal Achievement Award Winner by Window & Door Magazine

Soft-Lite Windows has been recognized by Window & Door magazine as a winner of the
prestigious 2016 Crystal Achievement Award for “Best Dealer Support Program”.

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What Do Structural, or Design Pressure, Ratings Mean?

What is Design Pressure, and how does it impact the windows or doors you are considering for your home?

Let’s start with the definition of Design Pressure. According to AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association), WDMA (Window and Door Manufacturers Association), and the NAFS (North American Fenestration Standard), Design Pressure (DP) is a rating that identifies the load – induced by wind and/or static snow – that a product is rated to withstand in its end-use application. So basically, DP is a performance specification for how strong a window is, expressed in how many pounds per square foot (psf) of pressure the window can withstand. This specification can fluctuate based on several factors, such as geographic location, the height of the building, the location of the window in relationship to the building, etc. All of these factors are used to calculate what the Design Pressure (DP) is for a specific window or door.

Image of in house testing for design pressure.

In house testing of a Soft-Lite window for design pressure.

During testing, a window or door is attached to a wooden frame and clamped to a specially designed wall. Air pressure is gradually reduced on the inside of the window, which increases the pressure on the outside until the window fails (breaks beyond repair). The test pressure must reach 1.5 times the design pressure for 10 seconds without the window suffering permanent damage. In other words, a window with a DP of 30 would have to withstand 45 psf. The instant the window fails, the psf is recorded and is used for the calculation. Laboratories will then issue labels that indicate the DP for the window or door – labels used by the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and other organizations.

The Design Pressure that you need for the windows in your home will vary. For example, in the State of Florida, the DP required for a window can range anywhere from DP 35 (if you are in the center of the state) to DP 60 (if you are located along the coast). Your local building department can assist you in determining what DP rating you need, based on the location and design of your home. Most municipalities have maps or easy-to-read charts that clearly explain the requirements you will need to meet in order to effectively protect your home with the proper Design Pressure. You can then verify that the replacement windows you are considering meets the required DP rating by checking the sticker on the window and matching it to the engineering drawings for that window.

It’s also important to have a licensed and insured company install your windows and doors. Companies that are reputable will have no problem helping you verify the Design Pressure for your windows and doors. They will assist you with gathering all the information you need to make your decision. If they baulk at your request, you may want to reconsider purchasing from that company.

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What are Hurricane Windows or Impact Windows?

Hurricane Windows or Impact Windows are a product that have become prevalent over the past 25 years. Born in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, municipalities led by Miami-Dade in South Florida, saw the need for stronger window systems. Studies showed that if you were able to keep the exterior envelope intake during the storms (hurricanes), you have a greater chance of keeping the roof on the building in place and lessen the damage that could be created. To do this, the window industry didn’t have to go far to find a solution.

Soft-Lite Armor Max Plus Hurricane Windows

Soft-Lite Armor Max Plus Hurricane Windows

For years, the automotive industry had been using laminated glass for the windows in vehicles. Laminated glass is a type of safety glass that holds together when impacted with an object. In the event of breaking, it is held in place by an interlayer, typically of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), between its two or more layers of glass. The interlayer keeps the layers of glass bonded even when broken, and its high strength prevents the glass from breaking up into large sharp pieces. This produces a characteristic “spider web” cracking pattern when the impact is not enough to completely pierce the glass. Unlike the automotive industry, the window industry is trying reduce the shards of glass from flying, as well keep the window intact and not fail or “blow out” of the building.

Depending on the location, size of the panels, and design pressures, the interlayer used in the laminate may be of different thicknesses or types. For example, a .060-in PVB interlayer is a typical thickness and type of interlayer for Level C glazed areas. Other stiffer, more structural, interlayers, in thicknesses of .090, provide better resistance to tearing when subjected to Level D impacts at higher design pressures. The strength and other properties of laminated glass can be tailored to meet specific needs. The driving force behind the type of protection you are “required” to have is based on the geographic location of your home. These requirements are based on the local municipality building codes.

Soft-Lite Hurricane & Impact Windows Testing

Soft-Lite Hurricane & Impact Windows Testing

The State of Florida has been the driving force behind the development and implementation of building codes regarding hurricanes. After Andrew, Miami-Dade led the way with stricter codes for windows. In 2001, the rest of the state adopted the 2001 Florida Building Code standards. Since that time, several versions have come about. Florida is currently under the 2014 FBC standards. Taking Florida’s lead, other states in hurricane-affected areas began looking at their standards. Shortly after Florida rolled out its codes, states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana adopted the International Building Code or IBC. States like South Carolina and North Carolina followed as well. Texas developed the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) for its protocols. All of these standards are designed to give a uniform standard to test and grade impact windows for safety and reliability to withstand hurricane-force winds and flying debris. But the term hurricane windows is a little misleading.

The benefits of these windows exceeds just those homes located in areas prone to hurricanes. Impact windows increase safety, noise reduction, and intrusion resistance. Burglars run once they try to smash one of these windows and realize that it is not going anywhere. Parents are not nervous when their small children play around a large picture window. And homeowners marvel just how much of the outside world’s noise no longer enters into the home. Impact windows are a great way to help reduce damage from severe thunderstorms that can have damaging wind. These types of storms can hit anywhere at any time. There is no replacing the peace of mind that a homeowner with impact windows goes to bed with.

As building designs and styles continue to evolve, many new features will come and go in the market place. One product that’s here to stay is impact windows. Their ability to add safety to any home provides you with more than just a return on investment. It provides you with the assurance that you have taken measures to protect your family and property from whatever life throws at you. For these reason, impact windows are an investment that all homeowners should evaluate.

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What is a bay or a bow window?

If you are asking the questions “What is a bay or a bow window, and when should I choose one for my home?”, you may receive several different answers. Let’s start with just a basic definition of each style.

Soft-Lite Bay window with copper roof and decorative glass

Soft-Lite Bay window with copper roof and decorative glass

Bay: A bay window is made up of three windows in a wood frame that’s projecting outward from the main walls of a building and forming a bay in a room. Bay window is a generic term for all protruding window constructions, regardless of height. The most common inside angles are 15, 30 and 45 degrees. Traditionally, the center window is larger than the end units.

Soft-Lite Bow Window in Light Oak

Soft-Lite Bow Window in Light Oak

Bow: A bow window, or compass window, is an equally curved bay window with three to six openings. Bow windows are designed to create space by projecting beyond the exterior wall of a building, and typically incorporate casement windows, which join together to form an equal arch or radius of 10 and 15 degrees.

Now that you know the difference between the two styles, the question that most often gets asked is where will one of these window fit? The simple answer is in any home with an opening at least 48 1/2” wide. Typically a bay or a bow would replace a series of windows or an existing bay or bow in the home. Most are in the front of the house and are the focal point of the house, offering a distinctive beauty that other window styles don’t. A bay or a bow can totally change the exterior look of a house and give it some real curb appeal. From the inside, it makes the existing room look bigger.

By choosing a bay or bow window for your home, you allow yourself the opportunity not only to be different, but also, if done correctly, create a new space for your home that is as comfortable as it is beautiful!

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Picture Windows: History of the first window

Picture windows, or fixed windows, were literally a hole in the wall, centuries ago, to allow light and air into a home. The holes were covered with animal hide, cloth or wood. It wasn’t until much later that windows were built to protect the occupants from the outside elements. When flattened pieces of translucent animal horn, thin slices of marble, or pieces of glass were placed into frames of iron, wood or lead, the first picture window was created.

Antique Roman picture window glass from Straubing Bavaria Germany.

Antique Roman picture window glass from Straubing Bavaria Germany. Photo by Bullenwächter

Romans were the first known to use glass for windows. In 100 AD, in Alexandria, cast glass windows started to appear. The glass was nothing more than blown glass jars flattened into sheets, making the glass difficult to see through. Techniques were developed to shear one side of the flattened blown glass to produce a thinner more rectangular shape. The blown glass later led to the creation of the stained glass window.

Around 532 AD, early Christian and Byzantine churches used pierced marble frames, enclosing panes of glass. The Islamic mosque builders took it a step further by using thin marble to create pattern designs and allowing color to be used. It wasn’t until the 12th and 13th centuries in western and northern Europe that the stained glass practice reached full expansion. Using strips of lead, called cames, European glaziers shaped the lead into patterns to separate the different colors, creating the elaborate stained glass windows seen in churches.
It would be over a millennium before window glass became transparent enough to see through, like it is today — allowing any homeowner to have a beautiful, decorative glass picture window to view outside and let light into their home.

Today picture windows:

  • Come in all shapes and sizes, from triangles to octagons, from floor to ceiling.
Picture Window Specialty Shapes

Picture Window Specialty Shapes

  • Can be paired with other window styles, such as a double-hung.
  • Are often used in a bay window
  • Are the most energy-efficient window, because they are inoperable, keeping air infiltration to a minimum and making many models ENERGY STAR certified
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What is a casement or awning window?

Casement and Awning Windows

Casement and awning windows in Light Oak Woodgrain

When deciding what style of window to put in your home, let the existing dimensional shape of the old window opening guide you to the best style available for you. In the 80s and 90s, many casement and awning windows were installed by builders; unfortunately, casement windows usually have to be replaced with casements.

There can be some drawbacks with older casements, however most of those drawbacks have been fixed by innovation. Premium vinyl casements windows and awning windows, such as those manufactured by Soft-Lite, are superior for several reasons:

First, it maximizes air flow and visibility because it swings outward to grab air passing by and brings it into the home.

Second, the casement dimensionally meets egress with the smallest size available by law. When egress is a must and you are limited by size, casements are your best option.

Third, unlike all the other window styles, casement and awning windows have their screens on the inside, which makes for easier removal.

Fourth, these are the only style windows that actually have a lever to tighten or compress the moving sash with Q-lon weather stripping – making it tighter than any other window. Consequently, the casement/awning is the most airtight of all styles of operating windows, which maximizes the warmth in the rooms to keep you comfortable year round.

One thing to be aware if is that most casements and awnings have ugly clips to hold their screen in place – but Soft-Lite is unique. With Soft-lite casement and awning windows, the unique pressure screen fits snuggly in the frame and stays in place. The rugged extruded screen frame is durable, plus color coordinated to match all six interior color options. You can also choose from 16 different glass options to make sure these windows meet or exceed the new ENERGY STAR requirements in your area.

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