Steel windows are by far the best choice for openings that highlight a great view. The thin and elegant frames allow for large expanses of glass with minimal interruptions. No framing material other than steel can get the result you want and deserve. Wood, aluminum, and plastics can be used to make windows and doors, but they don’t have the finesse of steel. Getting steel windows built, delivered, and performing in an energy conserving manner can also be difficult.
Steel windows are hand built one-at-a-time by craftsmen which makes them not only expensive, but the limited number of skilled craftsmen can lead to long delays in manufacture. Very few steel door and window manufacturers incorporate state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing techniques. They tend to be smaller companies with a few craftsman or small divisions of larger companies. The primary steel components that they use almost all come from Europe which means ocean freight, large inventories or long waits.
At 2Fold®, we developed all of our window and door products around steel. Our steel is locally sourced flat panels that are laser cut and bent into profiles one job at a time with precision and timeliness. You can’t do better than that. And since the accuracy of all of the hardware hole preparations is controlled by engineering software that connects directly to the laser and bender, the only shop skill that remains is a good welder, which we have.
We just completed a project in Edwards, Colorado, which is very close to Vail. The opening was 17 feet wide and 12 feet high built like a tic-tac-toe board of nine holes with the center hole being a massive 9 feet by almost 7 feet. The lower left and right corners contain awning windows for ventilation. This feature window in the Great Room has an awesome view except on the day that the materials arrived when a freak snowstorm created blinding fog and freezing temperatures.
Fortunately, the rest of the week was sunny with warm temperatures so the inexperienced contractor installing the window system on site was able to learn and install the system with ease. For an opening this large to ship in one piece, it would require site delivery and installation using a very powerful helicopter. It was easier and much cheaper to build the wall in parts and deliver them in a truck
The first pieces to be installed were the two 12 feet long vertical steel mullions into which the nine steel framed windows were installed. In each of the three vertical bays, starting at the bottom it is window, horizontal mullion, window, horizontal mullion, and window. Did I mention earlier that the top row of windows was trapezoidal and the center unit looked like a home plate. While each of the nine windows could have been factory glazed, it was decided to field glaze making the site installation easier to control with the inexperienced crew. There were a couple of experienced 2Fold® hands-on site to show them what to do, and the installers performed magnificently.
All of this material was built and delivered to the site within the 6-8 week promise and the installation only took about 3-4 actual work days to complete, not counting the snow day. So far we have only talked about the steel frames that make the window wall strong and slender maximizing the view.
What about thermal performance? Well, the second most valuable part of the 2Fold® framing system is the Accoya® wood interior that stops the heat transfer and offers an unmatched combination of beauty and efficiency. The thermal performance of the wall was less than 0.30 BTU/hr./ft2/˚F (the NFRC, Energy Star, & Local requirement for thermal performance) without the use of argon, triple glazing, or 4th surface double low-E coating.
I can’t wait for the house to be completed and final photography to show off this stunning project. We don’t just build the world’s thinnest folding system, we create equally beautiful and efficient window walls for large openings that contain doors and operable windows anywhere you want them.