Historic homes are both a privilege and a pleasure to own and inhabit. Homeowners take great pride in preserving these magnificent landmarks, caring for their structures and aesthetics in ways that respect the buildings’ storied histories.
Historic homeowners have options when updating their building: restore to a specific era, rehabilitate and update as needed, or preserve as is. However, when maintaining an old home for habitability, homeowners often prefer to keep the home’s character in mind, including its original single-pane windows.
Whether interior or exterior, storm windows are popular additions because they keep the home’s overall aesthetic and original windows intact while improving energy efficiency and blocking outside noise. Magnetic storm windows are among the several styles to explore when deciding what storm windows will work best for your home.
What Are Magnetic Storm Windows?
Magnetic storm windows are a type of storm window with a metal frame installed around the window stop, after which the magnetic storm window is placed on the metal frame and held there by a strong magnetic field, creating a heavy-duty seal. This specific type of storm window has its own set of positives and negatives to consider.
Pros of Magnetic Storm Windows
- Affordable price. Magnetic storm windows are one of the least expensive options available compared to other types of storm windows or replacing windows entirely.
- Lightweight. It is easy to move and handle magnetic storm windows since they are durable but not heavy, making them accessible and manageable for anyone.
- Ease of placement and removal. Interior magnetic storm windows are easy to place and takedown without the need for tools, thanks to their magnetic seal design. Removable magnetic window insulation is an excellent choice if you still want to be able to open your windows occasionally in the winter.
- Removes condensation. Accumulating ice and condensation on windows is a common problem during the winter. The strong seal of magnetic storm windows all but eliminates this issue.
- Noise reduction. Magnetic acrylic soundproof storm windows can block out up to 70% of outside noise when applied to a single-pane original window and up to 50% with a double-pane window (compared to replacement windows, which only reduce outside noise by approximately 25% and cost more). They are an excellent option for homes in busy neighborhoods or near busy roads. They also reduce sound exiting the house, enhancing privacy.
- Energy-efficient. The strong seal of interior magnetic storm windows increases the original window’s performance, acting as a barrier to cold drafts and helping the home retain heat in the winter. Additionally, interior magnetic storm windows are often treated with an acrylic coating, which protects the home against ultra-violet ray damage.
- Cost Saving. In addition to being less expensive to purchase and install than replacement windows, magnetic storm windows often quickly pay for themselves through lower energy bills.
Cons of Magnetic Storm Windows
- Seal deterioration. Although it will take several years, the magnetic seal can weaken with time, reducing the window’s efficiency.
- Aesthetic issues. Even applied on the interior, magnetic storm windows affect the home’s aesthetic. The metal bracket that holds magnetic windows in place is permanently attached to the window frame, remaining visible even when the magnetic windows are not in use. This is an especially problematic issue for homeowners who want to maintain the historic nature of their home.
- Single-direction seal. Magnets attract in one direction; therefore, magnetic windows only protect against airflow one way rather than fully from every direction around the window frame.
- Changing temperatures can cause failure. Most magnetic window inserts use acrylic that expands and contracts based on the temperature, while the metal bracket frame does not. The magnetic seal can break, and the whole panel can pop off the bracket when the window insert and magnets expand or contract.
- Lengthy installation process and possible damage. Magnetic storm windows often require a cumbersome installation that includes permanent adhesive, drilling, and extra hardware that needs to be measured and assembled upon arrival, not ahead of time. It can take several hours and alter the quality of your home. Due to the lengthy and complicated installation process, it is also challenging to uninstall entirely and may leave permanent damage to your window frames.
- Permanently damages window frame. Magnetic storm windows require permanent attachment of metal tracking to your window frame. When the panel is removed, the tracking remains. Even when if you remove the tracking, the adhesive and holes drilled into your window frame are difficult to remove and repair. This is a huge issue for historic, old-growth wood window frames, which are irreplaceable.
An Alternative to Magnetic Storm Windows
Another option to consider when searching for the right storm windows for your home is compression seal inserts.
Compression seals are pressed into place inside the window frame, which doesn’t alter your home’s appearance or create un-historic damage, unlike magnetic window inserts that require a metal bracket. Since no bracket is required, compression seal inserts do not use screws or adhesive and are easy to install and uninstall.
Built from silicone tubing that provides a seal from all directions, Indow compression seal inserts are stronger than magnetic storm windows. The inserts are resistant to changing temperatures that can cause failure in track-based systems. They absorb the expansion and contraction that comes with temperature shifts and provide excellent resistance to unwanted drafts and noise.
Every Indow compression seal insert is custom made to each window’s specifications. This makes them particularly well suited for historic homes where each window will have a slightly different size due to the homes settling over the years.