Selecting windows and exterior doors for coastal environments 

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 127 million Americans—40 percent of the US population—live in coastal counties as of 2016. That means 40 percent of homes are subjected to the climate, weather, salt, moisture, and wind that come with close proximity to large bodies of water.  

For coastal homes, window and door choices are not just aesthetic and energy-efficiency decisions—they are crucial to the building’s longevity and survival. Selecting exterior doors and windows designed to stand up to harsh coastal conditions provides your customers extra peace of mind and helps ensure the safety, resilience, and lasting value of their homes.

Solutions for diverse challenges 

Ocean coastlines vary greatly—from the rugged and rainy Pacific Northwest to the sun-drenched sandy beaches of Florida and the Gulf—but water, wind, and salt are consistent considerations along all coasts. Plus, homes in hurricane-prone regions also face the prospect of extreme events and conditions. For homes along the freshwater coasts of the Great Lakes, snow, ice, and fierce winter storms take the place of salt and hurricanes at the top of the list of concerns. 

We covered the topic of building resilience in greater detail in another article. In it, we discussed how criteria such as design pressure (DP) rating, impact glass, and performance grade (PG) help identify windows that are engineered to help homes better withstand and recover from the effects of hurricanes and other severe storms.  

A universal concern for coastal homes is the persistent exposure of the exterior to moisture, wind, and salt. New high-performance materials and components, and improved construction methods, offer more substantial resistance to these relentless forces of nature. Many JELD-WEN window and door products feature innovations that allow them to be more resistant to salt air, keep out coastal moisture, and stand up to severe winds. When specifying windows and doors for a coastal home, it’s important to consider all parts of the window and door assembly—including frame material, finish, hardware, and installation.  

Uncompromising performance and style 

Fortunately, selecting windows, patio doors, and exterior doors for the realities of coastal environments doesn’t require homeowners to sacrifice style or features. For example, JELD-WEN windows and doors made with AuraLast® pine allow homeowners to enjoy the natural beauty of real solid wood that’s protected against wood rot, water damage, and termites. While traditional wood treatments cover only the surface, JELD-WEN’s proprietary water-based process for AuraLast fortifies the wood to its core, providing a deeper level of protection. 

Meanwhile, JELD-WEN exterior fiberglass doors are designed to withstand harsh coastal conditions while also offering a look and feel that’s practically indistinguishable from wood. Available in a wide range of architectural styles, these state-of-the-art fiberglass doors require little maintenance and won’t absorb moisture or expand. 

In homes that call for the performance, style, and features of metal-clad-wood windows or doors, a durable commercial-grade 70 percent polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) finish is recommended. PVDF finishes stay truer and brighter than other finish options, even in coastal areas. It’s important to note that metal-clad windows or exterior doors installed in homes within one mile of saltwater have specific maintenance requirements. In addition, typical door hardware can corrode or be damaged by constant exposure to sea air. For best results, specify hardware designed to stand up to saltwater and other harsh coastal conditions.  

Importance of installation  

Of course, even the best-designed windows and doors and most-advanced materials can only protect the home from coastal conditions if installed properly. Optimum wind-resistance performance is achieved by following the manufacturers’ installation guidelines for increased wind load. Windows must also be properly flashed and sealed against rain, wind, and wind-driven water. As always, use the manufacturers’ recommended flashing, caulking, and sealants, and follow their installation instructions.  

When it comes to ensuring the beauty, life span, and resilience of homes in coastal environments—and the comfort and peace of mind of the owners—choosing and properly installing the ideal windows, patio doors, and exterior doors is essential.  

For help discovering the right windows and doors for coastal customers’ homes, visit JELD-WEN’s professional portal

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