Tall OrderSpecing durable, high-performance windows for multifamily is both harder and easier than you think.

  • By Nigel F. Maynard

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Although architects likely know what the codes allow and forbid, experienced design pros also have developed personal checklists of do's and don'ts and have a sense of which specific issues to keep in mind when researching window options. Stockman, for example, says el dorado mainly specs operable systems for its projects to facilitate the circulation of fresh air.

Meanwhile, merzproject uses only thermally broken aluminum frames for energy efficiency and applies the same orientation techniques in multifamily façades that it uses for houses. "We do a lot of building modeling on window placement and exposure, so we use overhangs to help avoid direct sunlight," Busick says. The firm also is reassured by at least one aspect of commercial products: "The nice thing about storefronts is that [the suppliers] do the installation," he says. "They are very familiar with these systems."

Stockman considers himself a fan of commercial systems, but he cautions architects to be mindful of the products' susceptibility to defects. Residential windows are less likely to leak, he explains, because they come pre-assembled, whereas "commercial windows are cut and fitted on site, so end dams, flashing details, and corners are potential" problem areas. Consequently, he continues, installation is key: "A lot more windows leak than you know, but they leak into cavities," so the damage isn't seen. As a preventive measure, he "highly recommends" architects have any system they spec tested for leakage early enough to ward off potential problems.

Because even the best windows will leak if not installed correctly, Lander's company holds "drill" meetings to discuss how to go about it. After all, he says, "It's not just the window-but how the window is installed-that makes the difference."

Courtesy Marvin Windows and Doors

Lander Group favors Marvin's Integrity fiberglass windows and doors for its multifamily projects. The windows offer good looks, durability, and energy efficiency, developer Michael Lander says.

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