Instantly recognizable, the brownstone rowhouses are a symbol of Midtown Manhattan. The “brownstone era” started in the mid-1800, when the Italian palazzo, a building from the Renaissance period, became architect’s favorite source of inspiration. Along with it, the New England brownstone was gaining ground as being synonymous with elegance and class.
However, while the stone structures are still standing strong, doors and windows are a whole different story. Mostly made of wood, these parts of the house need to be either repaired or replaced from time to time. Although not all modern window styles will fit a brownstone house, there are a variety of functional and attractive options for you to dive into.
Before comparing window styles, it may help to first decide which material will best suit your Brownstone Rowhouse. Each type has its own advantages and specific characteristics.
Wood: One of the most traditional options, however wooden frames are less durable than more modern materials. The advantage of wood is that it can be painted or stained for a wood finish. White paint can highlight the frames against the brown background of the building’s facade, while a dark wood stain can complement the stone face of the building.
Vinyl: Vinyl window frames require very little maintenance and are an excellent option for sound and heat insulation. Plus, they can be made to look like wood which allows some freedom in design. Vinyl also offers a number of different colors, allowing you to choose a color that best complements the exterior of the building.
Aluminum: Allows for very thin and strong frames, if maximizing the glass to frame ratio is your intent. Be aware, however, that aluminum is a heat conductor, which means you may lose some heat during winter if you have all your windows made of this material.
Steel alloys: These can achieve a similar look to aluminum frames, being strong and durable. Modern advancements also make steel alloy frames better insulators than aluminum. The thin frames provided by steel alloys can offer a modern look to a traditional Brownstone building if that is your intention.
Single Hung Windows: Only one sash is operable, either top or bottom. It doesn’t make a big difference for small windows, but for tall ones, deciding which sash should move can help with better airflow, heat management and even privacy.
Double Hung Windows: Very similar to the single hung style, however both sashes can be moved. This model commonly has sashes that tilt inward, making it easier to clean the exterior surfaces from inside – a valuable feature for second floors and above. Both single and double hung windows suit the traditional aesthetic of the Brownstone Rowhouse.
Casement Windows: Casement windows remain popular in Europe and were favored in England before hung windows were invented. Like the brownstone rowhouses, casement windows were brought to America as an elegant style. These windows are installed on hinges that allow them to open like a door. Open or closed, they can be an excellent complement to the facade of the rowhouse.