Tom Shafer

Chasing replacement window grilles and designs

November 30, 2011

When glass was first introduced, it was virtually impossible to produce it in a large sheet. Small panes had to be joined together to create large windows using dividers to hold them together. This square "Colonial" design was necessary until the development of a process that allowed for the manufacture of large panes of glass.

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External window grilles

Despite finding a way to make a window with one clear sheet of glass, the divided glass design remained popular and is still a very significant feature of today's architecture. Where once the small panes were an impediment to fashioning a larger window, recreating the Colonial look from larger sheets of insulated glass became the modern challenge. As a result there are now several different ways to achieve the divided look, including grilles between the glass, simulated divided lites and true divided lites. Some window companies even offer grilles that are not permanently affixed to the glass. They can be removed and stored if the homeowner wants to change the appearance of the home to larger, clear panes of glass.

How to find external grilles for existing windows

Each window company has its own version of removable grilles. Some grilles, for example, have frames while others are frameless. If you want to add a grille to create the extraordinary look of multi-pane windows, you should contact the manufacturer of your windows and ask about external replacement grilles. Most are willing to make the grilles you want with only the dimensions of the visible glass needed. If you do not know your manufacturer, all may not be lost. By doing an online search for replacement wood window grilles, you may find companies that provide a wide array of grille designs.

Big Blue Window company offers Colonial grilles with six different profiles to match most every depth and width of the individual muntin bar. JJJ Speciality in Plymouth, Minn., specializes in non-traditional designs. They not only have different bar depths and widths, they also make diamond grilles, Gothic and cathedral designs, as well as several types with circles. Screenitagain, a Quanex Company, is a great source for grilles that come in colors. Their grilles, made from pine, maple and oak wood species, can be painted, stained or ordered in any one of 20 different pre-painted colors.

How do you attach these grilles to the window? Push pins--pins on a plastic frame that push into the wood or vinyl--are available in widths to match most grille bars. Dual tabs can lock any non-surround grilles.

Our forebearers probably never could have imagined all the trouble we would go to imitating their divided windows. They would gladly have swapped theirs for our large, clear ones. But to us, what's old is new.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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