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Steel Buildings 101: Self-Framing Windows

You need windows. We’re not talking about a computer operating system here. When you’re figuring out the cost of a steel building, it’s important to include windows in your initial budget. When it comes to windows, don’t let cost be the first factor in deciding what kind of window to use. The best window for your steel building is a self-framing window.

Common problems with windows for builders and erectors are: difficult or time-consuming installation, a lack of choices, low quality components, movement in the window and wall and the difficulty in getting a good seal of caulk around the perimeter. Self-framing windows are incredibly easy to install and are the most trustworthy window for your steel building.

Most self-framing windows have a thermal break frame and insulated glass to give you the energy efficiencies needed. If you want to add structural strength and rigidity, and provide a finished edge for the interior build out, a steel subframe is available.

Self-framing windows come in many sizes, so that your steel building looks perfect. Window trim is unavoidable with the self-framing windows, as that is how they connect to the wall. Most companies offer different kinds of ‘trim fins’ that will match your interior or exterior colors and designs.

Most manufacturers offer self-framing/self-flashing windows that improve the cost of a steel building. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “flashing” as applied to construction, it means installing some type of material around windows to prevent water from entering between gaps in adjoining surfaces. When manufacturers promote self-flashing windows, it means there is no need to install the water-proof materials. When you install a self-framing/self-flashing window, you are decreasing the number of steps involved in window installation.

These self-framing windows are also available in a number of configurations including slider, fixed and single hung. A slider window is exactly what it sounds like. It has two panels and one panel slides in front of/behind the other panel to open. Fixed windows do not open, only allowing light to enter the building. Fixed windows are commonly used in churches and garages. The single hung window is one of the most common self-framing windows, where one pane (usually the lower one) is opened while the other stays fixed in place. Window makers will often give you the option of either single pane or insulated glass.

Installation is easy with self-framing windows. One window can be installed in 12 easy steps requiring caulk, a few nails, a hammer and your self-framing window. Though it is easy to install self-framing windows yourself, if you’re working with a contractor, be sure to ask someone who has hung self-framing windows to help you frame yours.

How are self-framing windows different from traditional windows? Traditional windows require the frame of the building (whether steel or wood) support the window. The internal structure must be specifically engineered to hold a window. With self-framing windows, the cost of a steel building decreases significantly because the frame of your building doesn’t have to be altered to install the window.