Tag Archives: windows

History of Curtains: How They Came into Existence

Curtains are still the main form of window covering for the majority of households. They are versatile, warm and perform a wide variety of functions. Yet, despite their importance they are often hung as an afterthought! In fact, a well hung curtain can make a huge difference to the décor and feel of any room. When you choose your curtains you must think about their purpose, the style of your room and even the form of the curtains. Understanding their history will help you to choose the right one for your room.

Warmth

Originally, curtains were used to help keep a property warm; there was no central heating! These curtain were usually long, heavy affairs, the more of the space they covered the better the heat insulation. In fact, it was common to hang tapestries and drapes on castle walls to help keep the warmth in. Choosing a curtain to maximize light in a room was an unheard of option in medieval times. The earliest known curtains were hung over doorways and windows; they were made of animal hide and did not hang well.

The Egyptians

To many, the Egyptians are the founder of the modern clothing material. They were experts at spinning linen and flax, later they moved onto wool, cotton and even silk. These materials were created as advancements in dyeing; weaving and mass production were becoming a part of industry. The result was a curtain made of a pleasing textile that not only looked good but flowed well; whilst keeping the warmth in.

Glass

In the 13th century the Italians perfected the making of glass and it became an option for windows. Until then, wooden shutters had been the only option and these not only let drafts in but blocked out all light. Keeping a large house or castle warm was nearly impossible, even with an open fire in every room. The smoke inside the building, combined with the darkness would have made for a very unpleasant living environment over the winter months. The more northern you were the colder it got and the more essential these heavy drape curtains became.

The Renaissance period

The period between the 14th and 17th centuries is known as the Renaissance; it was during this period that the average home started to resemble the modern homes we live in today. Glass became a standard feature and helped to reduce the drafts and coldness. Windows were even designed with obscure glass or stained glass; possibly negating the need for curtains altogether.

Most windows are plain glass and so the need for a curtain continued; if only to prevent noisy neighbors watching your every move. Even with the development of glass, curtains remained pieces of material draped across the openings.

The 18th and 19th Centuries

The textiles that had been used for so many years in the eastern parts of the world started to come to the west during this period. This inspired a new range of textile production in France, Italy, Holland and the UK; each product was adapted to include a western feel.

It was only in the first half of the 19th century that mass production started to take off and these gave the humble curtain a new market. Curtains were now a viable option for almost anyone, instead of being the preserve of the wealthiest. The middle classes chose to employ designers to ensure their curtains enhanced the look and feel of their homes. Many curtain styles from this period are very ornate.

War

The two world wars took their toll on curtain design. Limited materials and funds meant all curtains became simplistic sheets, designed simply to cover the window and even to stop light getting out. The post-war years saw many buildings becoming multiple dwellings and this led to curtains which fit with the architect of the building, although maybe not to the interior décor.

It has only been in the last twenty years that curtains have been seen as part of the interior design and more than just a functional item. They really can make a huge difference to the look of a room. The ideal height, model and material will transform your home into the most welcoming environment!

By: Edward Francis and VanessaArbuthnott.co.uk!

Windows with Blinds Between the Glass: Pros and Cons

Windows and doorwalls with blinds between the glass are a fairly recent invention, one that we at Kopke Remodeling have fully embraced. However, while researching them online, I found some negative opinions on such products (articles arguing that the cons outweigh the pros). Here at Kopke, we LOVE blinds between the glass, and would recommend them to everyone! Not only do we think they are nice in theory, we have employees who have lived with them for 6+ years. Therefore, this article serves to dispel any and all such negative opinions.

The window/door brands we carry that offer blinds in between the glass are Pella, Jeldwen and Sunrise. I’m sure others exist, but these are the few we will concentrate on today. The most common brand we sell is Pella.

When you are dealing with double-pane windows, the blinds exist between the two panes, which negates the possibility of filling this cavity with argon gas, which helps with insulation. This is one of the main reasons people shy away from blinds between the glass. However, when you opt for triple-pane windows, which are most common nowadays, the blinds are nestled in between two of the panes, leaving room for argon gas between the other two. This is very common, and although the insulative properties might be slightly inferior to windows with argon gas in both cavities, it is extremely adequate, especially for Michigan climates.

Another supposed negative is that the blinds are inaccessible, if anything ever needs to be cleaned, un-kinked, or replaced, which simply is not true. With Pella windows, for example, the outside pane of glass is removable, which allows access to the blinds for repairs/replacements. All aforementioned companies also offer 10 year warranties on their blinds. If anything were to go wrong within 10 years, it could be easily fixed.

The price is another negative factor. However, we feel the blinds upgrade is extremely affordable. At approximately $200 a window, the cost is comparable to any other window treatments you might buy for your windows.

Here is a personal example: In my childhood home, I remember when my parents had a beautiful bay window installed facing the backyard. They went in search of window treatments and found some stylish, wooden, expensive blinds that they loved and some cheaper, vinyl, bearable blinds that they ultimately decided on (using price as the main deciding factor). These blinds were so noisy, hard to operate, and unattractive that my parents soon went back to the store and bought the more expensive wooden blinds. These were beautiful at first, but keeping them dust-free became part of our monthly home maintenance (much to the distaste of their teenage daughters). ???? Also, the cords were perpetually becoming tangled, having energetic cats at play.

In their next home, blinds between the glass was a no-brainer for my parents. With these blinds, there is no dusting, no tangled cords, and you are actually able to SEE the windows you just bought! With most traditional window treatments, your new windows are all covered up, and you are not able to enjoy looking at your new investment.

In all three window examples above, the blinds featured are raise & tilt metal mini blinds. These are our favourite, because they can be raised all the way up for a clear view out of the window. Tilt-only blinds work the same way, but they cannot be raised out of the way. Also available are cloth pleated shades. These come in 22 colors, some of which are billed as “room-darkening”. With these cloth shades, you can create a romantic atmosphere.

Okay, so now that you are convinced that blinds between the glass are the greatest thing since sliced bread, here is the offer I have for you! For the month of July, we are offering free blind upgrades for every other window! This will come out to about $100 off each window. (Offer includes: blinds between the glass/pleated shades/muttons, but excludes I.L.T.)

If you have any additional questions about windows and your available upgrades, call us at (586) 777-6633 or email me at kkopke@kopkehome.com

How to Prevent Window Condensation and Solutions for When it Happens

If condensation has formed on your window, it is time that we figure out what exactly is happening.  After all, windows are not wells; they do not make water.  When condensation forms on a window, it is trying to tell you something.  On the modern window, condensation usually forms in one of three places: the outside of the window, the inside of the window, or between the panes of glass (in double and triple-paned windows).  Each has a different cause and a different solution.

Condensation on the inside of a window is a sign that airborne water is trapped in the house due to poor air circulation and exchange.  This usually means that the furnace is not getting enough air for proper circulation.  To test this, tape a piece of kite string to the molding above the window.  Make certain that all the windows and doors are tightly closed.  Wait until the furnace goes on, and after it has been on for about two minutes, open the window.  If the kite string goes outdoors, against the screen, you have positive air circulation and do not have a problem.  In the event the string blows in, your house has negative air pressure.  You do not have enough combustible air in the house and, most probably, you do not have sufficient air exchange for good health.  If you have a forced air furnace, you can probably eliminate the condensation by turning on the furnace fan for several hours.

Lately, there have been complaints from people reporting condensation on the outside of their double-pane Low E glass windows.  This is not a problem, but a sign that the Low E coating is working and reflecting heat back into the house.  This condition usually occurs in the spring and fall when there are relatively warm, humid days and cooler nights.

In summary, interior and/or exterior condensation is not the fault of the window, but most often it is the result humidity and temperature.  Like a cold aluminum can on a hot humid day, or a mirror after a shower, water vapor will condense into water droplets or fog on colder surfaces.

Causes: Plants, showers, cooking, hot water base-board heating, and damp basements all add humidity.  All rooms within a house may not have the exact same issues as others.

Possible Solutions: Reduce humidity levels in home, leave drapes and blinds open so warmer air can reach glass, open fireplace dampers or add roof vents so humidity has an easier escape route.

See the Chart Below for Recommended Humidity Levels to Prevent Window Condensation:

Choosing the Right Glass for Your New Windows

Today’s rising energy costs make choosing the right window a crucial decision.

When replacing windows you must first consider that 80% of the window is the glass, therefore the most important part of your window. There are so many different types of glass available today that it can be very confusing for consumers.

There is clear glass, insulated glass, Low-E glass, tinted glass, double-pane glass, triple-pane glass, laminated glass, tempered glass, the list goes on and on. So which is the best for your particular needs?

Just about all replacement windows now will have a minimum of clear insulated glass, which is 2 panes of glass spaced anywhere from 1/2″ to 1″ apart, and then filled with argon gas. The argon gas between the glass is an inert gas (that is significantly thicker than oxygen) which acts as an insulator by slowing the heat from passing through the glass. Some companies are using krypton gas instead of argon in the window because it is thicker and heavier. However, the cost difference between the two is significantly greater for the krypton gas. The energy savings, however, are not as significant. So in my opinion, your money is better spent upgrading the glass itself than upgrading the gas between the panes.

Low-E glass is nothing new; it has been around for decades. Ford Motor Co. originally started using Low-E glass in their cars to keep the dashboards from cracking, and interiors from fading from sunlight. Over the years, it has made its way into the replacement window market. The original purpose of Low-E in residential windows was to filter out the UV rays from the sun, keeping your carpet, drapes, and upholstery from fading. Since then, it has also been marketed as an energy saving feature. However, not all versions of Low-E glass perform the same as others. Low-E stands for Low Emissivity, NOT Low Energy, as some consumers are lead to believe. There is hard coat Low-E, soft coat Low-E, double Low-E, Low-E squared, not to mention that different companies use different chemicals in their Low-E coatings such as: tin nitrate, silver oxide, or combinations of different chemicals.

So how do you choose which one is right for you? And since they all look the same, how do you know what you’re really getting?

The government has now made it mandatory for all replacement windows to have a label that tells the consumer what the particular window’s U-Factor is. The U-Factor is the speed at which heat is lost or gained through the glass. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the glass is. For a replacement window, you must have a 0.35 U-Factor or below to be Energy Star approved. In order to qualify for federal tax credits, the U-Factor must be 0.30 or below. There are now some windows that have a U-Factor as low as 0.20 and others that are as high as 0.45. Usually the more energy efficient the window is, the more expensive it is to manufacture, therefore having a bigger price tag for the consumer. However, additional costs to upgrade to a high performance window are usually recouped within about 3 years just in increased energy savings!

The bottom line is: you have to consider what your intentions are with your home. If you’re planning to live in the home for several years, it may be well worth the extra money to upgrade to a high performance window. If you’re planning to sell the home in the near future, you may want to elect to go with a less efficient product to keep the cost down.

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