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Soundproof Windows

Replacing replacement windows a countertrend in home maintenance

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Replacing replacement windows a countertrend in home maintenance

For homeowners, the trend is to replace old windows with new, modern, dual-pane, wood or vinyl frame, replacement windows. However, what is trendy isn’t always best for you.

Replacement windows are fine if a new look and some energy savings is the goal, but will do little if reducing outside noise to get peace and quiet indoors is the real problem.

Soundproof Windows

The challenge is that replacement windows are not really designed to reduce noise, and the vast majority of exterior noise enters through windows, not walls. So, when life is crazy and you want to create a cosy sanctuary at home to soothe your jangled nerves, it often makes more sense to improve your existing windows than replace them.

That’s why a cost-effective countertrend is developing to keep existing windows and enhance function by placing a soundproof, matching inner window inside the existing windows. This method can stop up to 95 per cent of outside noise, while enhancing energy savings and safety. It not only provides extra thermal insulation, but also a virtually shatterproof barrier that deters intruders.

Because no window replacement is required, the installation process can take as little as one hour per window, which minimizes home disruption. A similar technique, which installs a functional, matching patio door inside or outside of an existing one, also provides comparable benefits for patio doors.

Keep the noise out

From screeching traffic and blaring car or train horns to barking dogs and roaring leaf blowers, dual-pane windows will not keep out the noise because they are not designed to do so. The problem with a typical dual-pane window is that they act like a drum and reverberate in response to external noise vibrations. The result is that the noise as sound vibrations transfers right through the panes. On top of this, the seals of most dual-pane windows degrade within a few years, which allows even more outside noise to pass through.

Some replacement window companies tout single-pane acrylic windows as soundproofing. However, the typical 3/4-in. thick acrylic panes lack sufficient mass to stop much noise. Acoustic testing has demonstrated that a single-pane acrylic window must be at least 3/8 in. thick before it provides a good acoustic soundproofing value.

SoundproofWindows inside home

An even more effective solution incorporates recording studio soundproofing technology to block up to 95 per cent of external noise penetration, which can make unwanted noise sound like it is at least two football fields farther away.

This approach first dampens sound vibrations with an inner window of laminated glass installed behind the existing window. The lamination acts like a finger placed on a vibrating wine glass to deaden the sound vibrations when struck. An inner layer of tough polyvinyl, similar to that used in car windshields, further dampens sound vibrations.

Next, air space of two to four inches between the existing window and the Soundproof Window also significantly improves noise reduction because it isolates the window frame from external sound vibrations.

Finally, spring-loaded seals in the second window frame put a constant squeeze on the glass panels. This prevents sound leaks and helps to stop noise from vibrating through the glass. The spring-loaded seals are designed to stay acoustically sound for decades.

Energy efficiency

Typical windows and glass patio doors are notorious causes of home heating and cooling loss. They transfer heat/cold by thermal conduction through the panes and glass surface, so additional heating or cooling is required to keep everyone comfortable.

Air leakage through window and patio door seals that crack over time also worsens the problem. While single-pane windows transfer the most heating/cooling, even dual-pane windows may be insufficient to keep homes sufficiently warm in winter/cool in summer without raising utility costs.

As a solution, adding an inner insulating window to existing windows, and a second sliding patio door that can be installed inside or outside of the existing door, however, can dramatically improve thermal efficiency.

In fact, this approach provides an additional layer of insulation with better insulation values than the best double-pane windows, and substantially improves insulation values for dual-pane windows as well. The second sliding patio door has even greater insulation value due to its greater surface area. This can reduce heat loss by 77 per cent or more for single-paned windows, and heating/cooling bills by up to 30 per cent, while stopping air infiltration for further energy savings and greater comfort.

Improve security

Another important side benefit to this soundproofing approach is security enhancement, since its construction helps to deter burglary/breaking and entering through typical windows or sliding glass doors.

Soundproof Windows

While standard windows or tempered glass sliding doors can be shattered by a sharp blow, the laminated glass used in such soundproofing offers significant break in protection because it is shatter-resistant and tends to remain intact even after repeated blows. Such laminated glass is actually a major component of most bulletproof glass.

The bottom line

If you want to change the curbside appearance of your home, you still might consider replacement windows.

But if stopping outside noise from driving you crazy during the day or keeping you up at night is important, or cutting your energy bill, or improving home security are your priorities, then you may want to add an inner window or patio door instead

As an added plus, the cost can often be less, depending on window size or the noise reduction sought. Also, installation can take a fraction of the time of replacement windows, and can even be done as a DIY project for additional savings.


Available in Ontario through Arc Acoustics 


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6 simple steps to replacing your home windows

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6 simple steps to replacing your home windows

Some homeowners compare selecting windows for the entire house at once, with choosing their wardrobe for the next 10 years in a random day in September, except that the first process is more stressful. Why? Because windows are used for more than 10 years. Most of the homeowners keep them forever.

It’s overwhelming to choose windows and doors because they can become a source of energy loss. In Canada’s climate, you can lose even 35 per cent energy through windows and doors, and this leads to high energy bills. Canadian homeowners should choose high-efficient models because they can boost a house’s energy efficiency and save on energy bills. Energy-efficient windows are 40 per cent more efficient than traditional models.

Here are a few guidelines that make home windows replacement simple.

Decide what window style suits your home’s style

Windows do more than saving energy, they influence the aesthetics of a home. Carefully select the appearance of the windows because they must blend with the style of the property.

The architecture of the building usually influences the style of the windows and doors. If you match the style of the windows with the one of the house, they will complement its design no matter its age.

Colonial buildings often feature double-hung windows. Most homeowners prefer them because they open and close with two operating sashes. Double-hung windows are easy to clean and suit various architectures, so they’re a safe option for a homeowner who doesn’t like to experiment.

Speciality shaped windows from window manufacturers like Panes work great for modern buildings. Homeowners who want to add extra character to their buildings choose geometric or speciality shaped windows.

You can upgrade all models with decorations to add them a touch of uniqueness.

Select the material of the frame

The material of the frame determines the type of maintenance the windows need over time, so you need to decide which one you prefer before choosing the style of the windows.

If you want high-quality windows that require little maintenance, opt for vinyl windows. They’re the best option for a homeowner who is afraid that termites will damage the windows. Vinyl windows don’t rot, peel or warp, so they are durable and could last a lifetime.

The best part about window frames is that you can customizxe them as you want because they come in a great range of colours that can match any interior and exterior.

Wood windows are another option for a newly-built house. Buy they require high upkeep, so you’ll spend a lot of time maintaining and cleaning them.

Clad windows are a combination of a wood frame and another material. Often, manufacturers apply a cladding of fibreglass, vinyl or aluminium to the exterior frame to boost its durability. Some window providers sell fibreglass windows because they are less prone to expanding and contracting than clad windows. The drawback is that the homeowner has to protect the frames with hard finish paint.

Choose the glass package

The glass package directly impacts the amount of energy you save. Don’t try to save money by picking low-cost windows because they’re usually low quality and don’t have the needed tech to keep your energy bills low.

For a glass package to be efficient, it has to include some essential components.

  • Low-E glazing. Low-E is an invisible coating applied on the outside or inside of a window. The manufacturer decides where they want to apply it according to the model of windows they produce. Low-E reduces heat transfer in the building. During summer, it reflects the sunlight outside to maintain the house’s interior cool, and during winter, it allows the light to enter the house to boost warmth.
  • Argon gas. Manufacturers place an invisible and odourless gas, denser than the air between the panes of the windows to improve their thermal efficiency.
  • Dual and triple pane glass. You can find on the market dual and triple pane windows. The dual-pane windows are the traditional choice. The triple-pane glass adds an extra layer of glass to increase energy efficiency and sound-blocking features.
  • Krypton gas. Window producers fill the space between panes with invisible, odourless gas, denser than the air and argon gas to obtain high-efficient windows.

The perfect window is the result of the combination of the above components. Don’t install windows without these technologies because they’ll fail to insulate your house and lower energy bills.

If you want something special customize the windows

You build the house of your dreams, so you probably have a clear image of how you want it to look. If the windows you find on the market, don’t match the ones you pictured in your mind, collaborate with a manufacturer that encourages clients to customize windows.

For some people, buying windows from big box stores sounds convenient because they usually get better offers for standard products. But if this isn’t an option for you, work with a professional willing to personalize them. Reliable window companies engineer their products one at a time, and this guarantees that the product you receive has a precise fit inside the walls of the house.

Work only with expert contractors because the smallest mismeasurement can lead to high energy loss. This is something common for pre-made windows. The best way to prevent the problem is to choose custom windows.

Hire a reputable window company

It’s overwhelming to choose the window provider because there are countless companies you can work with. Hire an established company because you trust your house’s efficiency with them. Ask family and friends for recommendations, check online reviews, and make a list with reputable companies that operate in your region. The Internet is the best resource to find out the quality of services local window companies provide. You can find reviews on social media pages like Facebook, and even contact former clients to find out how satisfied they were with the products they received.

Hire a company that aims to improve the lives of the homeowners with energy-efficient products because they strive to provide high-quality windows.


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When it comes to planning home improvement projects, timing is everything

When it comes to planning home improvement projects, timing is everything

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When it comes to planning home improvement projects, timing is everything

PHOTOGRAPHY: Bigstock.com

Any homeowner who has already gone through a major renovation project knows that it can take weeks, months, or even years from the time you decide to sign a contract until the job is fully completed. Lining up the trades, ordering the various stock and custom materials, and going through the permit approval process are just a few of the components that can hold up completion.

Some renos require more prep time than others, while others are best to avoid once winter settles in. Here are four projects that you’ll want to have a lot of lead time to prepare for, or should simply wait until the warmer weather returns.


No matter how small the addition you plan to build is, you’ll almost certainly need to get approval from your municipality for what are known as “minor variances” to existing bylaws. These include setback requirements, restrictions on height, and capping the amount of square footage based on the size of the lot. The City of Toronto has a weeks-long backlog of permit applications waiting for approval from the Committee of Adjustment.

Even if you live in a community that’s processing building permits in a timely fashion, additions require a lot of time to coordinate.

Finally, if you haven’t already broken ground on the foundation, you’re going to have to wait until the spring thaw to do it now.


Window installation companies will tell you they can and do work throughout the year. And, if you have an emergency situation, such as a broken or extremely drafty window, you’re best to get it repaired as soon as possible. The installer will close the door or tarp off the room in question to reduce heat loss.

But if you’re looking to replace your entire home’s windows, you’d be better off waiting until spring. Yes, they can do the installation one room at a time. But mistakes and accidents happen. If a window frame was mis-measured or the glass breaks during installation (and I’ve seen it happen more than once), you could end up with a plywood window while the company tries to get a rush replacement order in.

Plus, the caulking used to seal the frame doesn’t flow or bind properly in extreme cold, and finesse work gets sloppy when you can’t feel your fingertips.

Finally, most of the exterior finishing work is done on ladders. Do you want to take on the liability risk if a ladder slips on the ice, particularly if you haven’t done your due diligence and checked that the company has all the proper licences and insurance?


If you need an emergency roof repair to prevent water leaking into your attic during winter warm spells, get it done as soon as possible. But if your entire roof is due for replacement, but it isn’t imminently critical, at this point you should wait until spring. For one, do you want to risk having your old roof removed just as a days’ long storm rolls into town, leaving your home protected from the elements by nothing more than a tarp?

Also, as with windows, the adhesives and caulking used to seal down a new roof require warmer temperatures to work properly. And, again, even if you’re sure your contractor’s insurance all checks out, would you be comfortable with someone working on your roof in icy conditions?

Landscaping and hardscaping

No legitimate landscaper is going to suggest planting trees or install retaining walls in a snow-covered yard. Once the ground is frozen, it’s impossible to do much of anything outside.

Most landscapers, if they’re not busy running winter snow removal businesses, like to spend the winter months finalizing contracts and project components to break ground once the frost is out. If you haven’t already, now is the time to reach out and start planning your yard for 2020.

CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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Restoring a Heritage Home

Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

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Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

Transforming a heritage home into a real estate jewel through a renovation or restoration is a labour of love – it requires a commitment to architectural character and a willingness to meet the challenge of unexpected surprises along the way. If your client has hired you to preserve the look, but update certain areas, the following are five broad categories that you’ll want to investigate.


Age, general architectural style and condition

Learn as much as you can about the history of the building. The historical society can be a good resource. Also, check archives for any old permits, drawings, photos, or newspaper articles about former owners. Learning about the lives of the people who built and lived in the house can help with restoration decisions. Many styles of architecture have played a role in our history, from Queen Anne, Victorian to Colonial Revival. Occasionally, you might also find a true Arts and Crafts style home too. It’s worth documenting the details of the home and checking books at your local library (or on the Internet) to determine its exact style. By learning the age of the home, who its former occupants were and its architectural style, you’ll be able to more easily piece together the “historic” puzzle for your client.


Structure, electrical, plumbing, heating-cooling and drainage

As far as condition goes, it’s worth investing in the services of a home inspector who is knowledgeable about historic architecture. He or she will be able to create a report that identifies potential problem areas and suggest viable, cost-effective solutions.

Problems with infrastructure can range from knob and tube wiring to clay pipes in plumbing. Foundations can be problematic as well, as old concrete can settle and crack, causing the building to shift; a pencil or a marble placed on the floor may well provide you with a heads-up. Any horizontal cracks in the concrete indicate severe settling and could mean costly repairs. If you suspect any underlying issues with the structure, it’s best to have it inspected by a structural engineer.

Envelope, roof, insulation, walls, windows and doors

Before changing any of the elements that make up the envelope of the building, ensure that replacements or repairs will maintain the architectural character.

Windows and doors on old homes can be problematic due to rotten wood and energy inefficiency. Luckily, most historical boards recognize this and let owners replace them with more modern choices as long as the general character is the same. However, if you are fortunate enough to have windows with stained or art glass, consider hiring an expert to restore them.

Many older homes were originally insulated with horsehair or newspaper. Newer homes, but older than 1990 may also have vermiculite insulation which likely contains asbestos. In most cases, an investment is needed to remove the old insulation and properly insulate the walls, the attic and the roof. Energy rebates may be available for this.

Interior furniture, fixtures, materials and decorative trim

The interior design of a heritage property can be very detailed, and it’s important to decide which characteristics contribute to the value of the home. Ceiling details and interior trim — such as door stiles and rails, wainscoting and any decorative motifs — can be extremely valuable and worth preserving or restoring to its original state. Wallpaper patterns can be replicated and heritage paint colours are available.

Door and window hardware is often bronze, copper or crystal. Sometimes missing fixtures or ornate lighting can be found in architectural salvage stores.

The fireplace was the focus of many older homes. Oftentimes, mantel and hearth details were spectacular and included carved wood or marble. Make sure the home inspector is a bit of a detective as well and removes bits of paint in inconspicuous areas to see if you own a hidden treasure.

Landscaping, hardscape, plantings and style

The landscaping of a historic property can’t be overlooked. Many of our forebears brought their gardening skills with them from England, Italy and France, where gardens were outdoor living spaces. While it may be difficult to determine from an initial observation of what a garden may have once looked like, old photos can provide valuable clues.

Scent gardens, formal seating areas tucked into the shrubbery, and decorative ironwork gateways that framed views of other landscape elements. Gardens can give a heritage property context and take a historic home from stunning to truly spectacular.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for several HOMES Publishing Group publications.


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Don’t forget about these winter window maintenance tasks

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Don’t forget about these winter window maintenance tasks

As home heating costs continue to rise, saving money and conserving the home’s warm air has become a top priority for many Canadian homeowners. That’s why it’s essential to take time to maintain your windows this winter, since drafty windows can account for up to 40% of a home’s heat loss. Here are a few tips on how to keep the heat in.

Check for Leaks

The best way to prevent heat from sneaking out the window is by checking the windows in your home for any leaks. An easy way to do this is with a smoldering incense stick. Light the incense and hold it close to each window. If the smoke is being pushed away from the window, there’s a good chance that you might have a leak.

You also want to check the caulking along the frame since it can dry out and gap.

Insulate your Windows

Winter insulation is a good idea for homes in most cold weather climates. It keeps home interiors comfortable and home heating bills low. Two easy ways to keep the warm air inside are with window insulation film and thermal curtains.

Window Insulation Film

Window insulation film is often available as part of a kit, which contains double-sided tape and a large sheet of insulating film. The tape it affixed to the window frame and then the film is applied to it. Next, a hair dryer is used to tighten the film by shrinking it into place.

Thermal Curtains

Thermal window curtains are an easy, affordable way to provide extra insulation. Sometimes called cold-blocking curtains, these energy-conserving window coverings are either double or triple layered and may also be coated on one side with an acrylic foam. Some options are available layered and backed by a thick, insulating layer.

Replace the Windows

Sometimes the best solution for a drafty home is to replace your windows. Leaky windows can not only elevate your home heating bill but can lead to additional problems like allergens getting into the home, and condensation, which can lead to mold, mildew and damage to surrounding wood.

Newer, more energy-efficient double and triple glazed models can be filled with inert gas which provides further insulation. They will help you enjoy a more comfortable home and lower your energy bills as well.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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DESIGN: Breathing Life into Your Windows and Walls

Breathing new life into your windows and walls

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Breathing new life into your windows and walls

by Linda Mazur

Today’s windows and walls seem to have a new lease on life. With fabrics and wall coverings exploding with colours and patterns, it’s easy to garner a bit of “design inspo” and take your windows and walls from a simple blank canvas to an inspiration of creativity and style.

From impactful geometrics to bold vintage floral, beautiful opulent metallic finishes to leathers and cork, the world of fabric and wall coverings has a new direction and a new excitement! The patterns are endless, the colours are beautiful, the textures are rich. What more could we want to inspire us?

Fabrics and wallpapers are not the only mediums to have a new and bold look. Tile, wood, concrete and wall panelling also have a new direction that sparks our interest.

Tile, for example, has gone the direction of fabric and wallpaper with a new look and texture; there are bold colours and patterns and fantastic 3-D effects that simple no longer belong just in the bathrooms or on small backsplashes. They can be incorporated into creative wall finishes in every space from a living room fireplace wall, to an entry way, to an impactful wall in your dining room. If you’re looking to the more traditional uses of tile, such as your kitchen backsplash, then why not select a statement tile and use it on the entire wall, eliminating your upper cabinets and replacing them with open shelving? Or perhaps use a great patterned tile to create a feature wall in a tiny powder room; it will make more of a statement on your wall than on the tiny floor space.

Both fabrics and wall finishes can make a huge impact in any space. A few rolls of wallpaper can transform and define a space in dramatic and luxurious ways. far beyond that of just paint. Whether your room is large or small, creating attention to your walls can instantly set a style, make a bold statement or add character and personality to an otherwise basic design. They can change a vastly spacious room by making it feel more intimate and cozy, just the same way a bold and busy pattern can transform a small room in your home to a charming and dynamic space.

Wall coverings can address a blank wall in your home. However, many condo-dwellers today have a greater amount of windows than walls – the view and light is fantastic but it can also be challenging. With the volume of windows some of my clients have in their condos, window treatments can become a costly venture. When looking to add some type of window coverings to your home why not consider a combination of blinds and sheers? Motorized blinds are an easy option for condo-dwellers, providing privacy and sun control. However, blinds alone can sometimes seem unfinished in a room — with the addition of sheers this can become an attractive option. Much like wallpaper, sheers fabrics have come a long way in recent years! These are not the sheers you may remember from your childhood. Instead, the sheer fabric options available today are exciting, colourful, incredibly patterned and textured; just the perfect thing to frame out your vista.

Inspiring windows and walls will be on-trend moving forward, so take advantage of the bold patterns, great colours and fantastic product options available and add some character and personality to your home.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.



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PRODUCT PROFILE: The Pella Difference

PRODUCT PROFILE: The Pella Difference

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PRODUCT PROFILE: The Pella Difference

Whether your home is traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between, Pella has the right options to complement your design needs

With Pella, you get so much more than stunning windows and doors. Its goal is to exceed your expectations well beyond standard product requirements and service. At Pella, quality is at the heart of what it does. They test their products to help ensure the designs will withstand the test of time.

Since the founding of the company in Pella, Iowa, they have challenged themselves continuously to improve. And as a leader in technology and product innovation, Pella has never been satisfied with the status quo. Pella, is committed to doing things right — even if it means doing things a little differently. With features, like blinds between-the-glass and screens that roll up and out of sight, its products are designed to make life a little easier.

Pella Windows and Doors are made specifically for your home because one size does not fit all. Whether your home is traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between, Pella has the right options to complement your design needs. Make your home your own with details perfect for you. With access to more materials, colours and options than other brands, Pella allows you to let your inner interior designer roam free.

Pella understands that home improvement planning can be overwhelming. That’s why it does everything they can to make working with Pella as easy as possible, every step of the way. Pella is passionately committed to bringing you windows and doors that transform your home into the place you’ve always dreamed of. With Pella, you are free to express yourself with a stunning array of unique and innovative window and door design choices. Then you can just sit back and enjoy your new home. After all, you’ve earned it.

Inspired design. Exceptional detail. That’s the Pella difference.



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