5 Elements Behind the Best-Made Windows, Doors and Skylights

Michael O’Brien
March 25, 2019
THE TALK... | Design & Performance

A home’s windows, doors and skylights exist for a number of reasons—to provide ingress and egress, sunlight and fresh air are some of the most obvious. But today’s savvy homeowners want more than just some panes of glass to let light in, or a panel that swings open to allow entry. Modern consumers want to: minimize the costs of heating and cooling their homes; increase daylighting; stay green; be protected from the elements; add an element of beauty and style; and ensure a long-lasting product. All of this, while staying within their budget. In short, they want the best-made windows and doors their money can buy.

So what’s behind that caliber of product?

1. High performance.
Windows, doors and skylights should be performance tested, both in development and routinely in production, including in extreme conditions to ensure durability of every component and finish. The best-made products go through a rigorous design process that combines architectural authenticity and expert engineering.

2. The highest-quality materials.
Every manufacturer will offer products in varying price ranges, but for each of those ranges, a consumer should feel confident they are getting the best quality for their money. For example, for a window or skylight (or a door with glass panels), that means using the best glass technologies for energy efficiency, optimal light admittance and ease of maintenance. 

3. A complete system.
Windows, doors and skylights may offer beauty, but the best-made products are more than that—they’re also complete systems that offer uncompromising quality and functionality, inside and out. All components are engineered to work together to resist leaks and drafts, and help maintain energy efficiency and weather resistance, so consumers get a product that performs as well as it looks.

4. Innovation and technology.
Consumers demand products that tap into smart and automated homes using security, solar power, radio frequency and Wi-Fi technologies. That means manufacturers must continuously innovate to create products that help people live in homes that promote health, wellness and sustainability.

Combining the best of time-tested design and production quality-control practices with state-of-the-art robotics and automation for precision and repeatability ensures high-quality doors, windows and skylights.

5. Certification.
Manufacturers and suppliers of windows, doors and skylights must comply with the building code referenced air, water, structural and impact performance standards, as well as the specified materials and components requirements. A certification mark from an accredited, independent, third-party certification organization ensures compliance with the building code referenced standards.

While many certification bodies ensure products comply with minimum building code requirements, not every certification entity goes beyond this. That means two different code-compliant products can vary widely in quality and performance—but products certified to key industry-leading programs, like the WDMA Hallmark Certification Program, come with compliance, quality and high performance.

Michael O’Brien is president and CEO of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, the national trade association for the window, door and skylight industry. He has over 30 years of experience in housing and building industry trade associations.