Canadian climates are typically defined by extreme variations in weather conditions throughout the year. From freezing cold temperatures in the winter, to hot and humid weather in the summer, our windows are put to the test all year round by the ups and downs of Canadian seasonal changes. Storm windows provide additional protection and weather insulation, installed on the outside or inside of an existing window.
Types of Storm Windows
Below are some suggestions regarding the types of storm windows that are best suited to Canadian climates. The type of storm window you choose will depend entirely on your current window situation and budget.
Exterior Storm Windows
Exterior storm windows made from durable material, mounted on the outside frame of the window, when properly maintained, are good at keeping the elements out. However, because a drainage hole must be left for moisture to escape in order to avoid the frame rotting, exterior storm windows cannot be made completely watertight.
Interior Storm Windows
Interior storm windows are the easiest to install and remove, especially in apartment buildings and multi-story homes. They are also great at preserving the exterior aesthetic of the window, particularly if you live in a heritage home, or in an area where the general aesthetic is more classic. In terms of energy savings, they are more energy-efficient than exterior storm windows because they form a much tighter seal with the glass.
Low-Budget Disposable Storm Windows
These are window kits made of plastic or vinyl sheets, or films which can be placed over windows as a shorter-term, more cost-effective storm treatment option. They do, however, impede visibility and tend to degrade over time due to sunlight exposure and require regular replacement, often every year, or even after a particularly harsh, stormy season.
Glass or Plastic Storm Windows
These are for homes with bigger window budgets. When it comes to storm window replacement, these windows are usually more sturdy and the metal or vinyl frames are easily removed using built-in hook and groove systems. Many metal frames also use magnets to make sure they fit securely against the primary window. They offer higher degrees of insulation, and glass provides unparalleled visibility and scratch resistance.
Storm Windows for Every Canadian Climate
Additionally, below are some of our different window recommendations based on the area you are in:
Canada’s Pacific Northwest demands moisture resistant window materials such as vinyl, wood-resin composite and fibreglass. Choosing windows with a high resistance to temperature transference is also necessary. Look for U-values of 0.3 or lower in order to maximize insulation properties and energy savings. Summer is typically more temperate in this area, so look for windows with a higher solar heat gain coefficient. Most wood windows are not going to stand up to the elements of the Pacific Northwest because they are generally made from soft, fast-growing species such as pine, which offer very little in the way of rot-resistance and are a risky choice in most humid and moist climates.
Eastern and Prairie Provinces
The East Coast is much better suited for wood windows as wood is one of the least thermally conductive materials on the market. High-quality wood windows can last for decades with the proper care and treatment and can stand up to Canadian East Coast winters and summers, no problem. Look for windows with U-values and SHGC’s of 0.3 or lower—this means that your windows will have at least a double layer of glass which is separated by a gas barrier, along with low-E coatings. You do not want to remove a historical hardwood unit and replace it with a new wood frame, as most experts agree that the craftsmanship of older hardwood windows is far superior to that of new hardwood frames.
How to Tell if a Storm Windows Is Suitable for Canadian Weather
The performance of all windows sold in Canada is regulated by the Canadian Standards Association’s section on windows (CSA A440). This standard dictates the types of materials which can be used in the manufacturing as well as some of the minimum standards required of those materials in order to make them fit for sale to the Canadian public. These properties include thickness, hardness and durability. CSA A440 also lays out the minimum performance standards for a wide variety of windows tested under standardized conditions. The characteristics laid out in the Canadian Standards Association’s criteria are:
- Wind load resistance*
- Ease of operation
- Resistance to forced entry
- Condensation resistance
- Screen strength
Any window sold in Canada is evaluated based on how it performs in the above categories of airtightness, water tightness, and wind load resistance. The other categories, those without an asterisk beside them, are voluntary and not part of the Canadian Standards Association’s evaluation.
Protect Your Home Year Round With Storm Windows
Storm windows are a budget-friendly way to increase the energy efficiency of retro, single-pane windows. They not only provide increased durability when you need windows that will stand up to the elements but decrease the flow of outside air into your home and the airspace between your current window and your new storm window act as added insulation.
Canadian climates demand windows that can stand up to them. Consider the above storm window options when equipping your home, business, or cottage for the dramatic ups and downs of Canadian weather.