When people call us to inquire about windows, they often ask why our windows are so expensive. We’ve addressed this in the past, but now that we have the new window budget calculator on our website, people have begun to ask why our fixed windows are less expensive than our operable windows.
It’s a fair question, especially when you’re trying to keep your renovation or new build within your budget. It can be frustrating to have a price discrepancy between two companies making security windows for luxury homes, and people’s gut reaction is to go with the cheaper option (even when money isn’t necessarily a huge issue).
As the old saying goes: you get what you pay for.
Here’s why our fixed windows are less expensive than our operable windows, and what sets our security windows apart from everything else.
Fixed vs. Operable Windows
It’s important to understand that to us, every window or door we sell is an opening we’re trying to securely close up. Every opening in your luxury home is a weak point in the structure — it creates an opportunity for dangerous people or water to enter your home. First and foremost, we’re a security company. We choose to empower our clients to protect themselves with security windows and doors. We also believe that the technology and structural upgrades we offer not only keep our clients safer, but make their lives easier. (Who doesn’t want facial recognition technology that opens your motorized door so you don’t have to put anything down to get in the house?)To us, every single one of these openings is critical because having them closed keeps you safer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a door or a window. It’s all the same to us.Along those same lines, consider for a moment that operable windows are essentially doors. Sure, they might be smaller, but they open just like a door and will present all the same challenges that a door will. Interior designers and homeowners have an easier time justifying a high price for a custom security door because they see an immediate benefit — it’s installed and functional within a couple hours and people will make comments about the design you chose, how beautiful it is, and how they’ve never seen anything like it. But with windows, it’s harder to get over that mental hurdle. Windows all look the same… right?Your regular, run of the mill residential windows do look largely the same — we’ll give that to you. But we’re not making regular, run of the mill residential windows. We’re making windows that are designed to keep dangerous people out of your luxury home, and in some cases, keep bullets from breaking your windows.From a manufacturing cost perspective, making an operable window is a similar cost to making a door. It’s the same mechanisms, the same functions, and the same kinds of seals. In fact, operable windows are more complicated in some ways than doors because there aren’t as many hiding places. We can hide locks behind door coverings and steel, but we can’t hide locks behind glass — they have to fit within the steel frames. Fixed windows are essentially just framed glass. A lot less goes into it, which means we can charge less for it.
Why Are FBS Windows So Expensive?
Our windows are custom made from the inside out. When we say this, people often counter argue that every window is custom made because it has to be made to fit the exact opening. Unless it’s a new build and a lot of the windows are the same size, you’re likely dealing with lots of different sized windows — particularly if it’s an older luxury home.When we build security windows for luxury homes, every single part of them is designed and handcrafted according to what the client needs and wants. Every tiny component is custom, every single time.We start with steel frames, which is generally the only part every other company is “custom building.” The difference here is that they’re doing it as cheaply as possible, whereas we are not. We’re focused on keeping you safe, and steel is the strongest possible material for window frames. (It’s also the most expensive, but it’s the best.) As for the glass, that’s customized as well. The reason for this is that we sell three different types of windows that require three different glass formulations: security, hurricane, and ballistic. You can learn more about the specifics here, but for the sake of context, we’ll explain the basics now.Glass formulations are not all suitable for every purpose. Glass that stands up to random flying objects and sustained wind does not also stop bullets. Glass that stops bullets does not necessarily mean someone cannot break through and enter your home. When creating our custom windows, we use a combination of annealed, heat-strengthened, and tempered glass with additional plastic material (polycarbonate or polyvinyl butyral) and air gaps, as needed. It simply depends on the type of window we’re building and what it will take to pass a certification test. Based on your unique needs and the location of your luxury home, we custom build glass to accomplish whatever goal you have. We have many clients in hurricane zones, so we build hurricane certified windows that can withstand dangerous conditions. Of course, a major component to hurricane certification is that water cannot get through the window and enter the home, which is largely about the correct type of caulk and sealing. Again, sealing products that are made for security windows is not necessarily suitable for hurricane certification. And finally, it’s glass formulations plus window frames and locks that create an effective security, hurricane, or ballistic certified window. A low-quality frame with high quality glass is just as pointless as a steel frame with single pane glass. It’s the whole package, or it might as well be nothing.
Volume and Mass Production
A significant reason for the higher price of our windows (in this case, both fixed and operable) is that each one is custom made. Whereas most window manufacturers can at least partially create the required materials for their products ahead of time — cut pieces of metal or plastic, cut sheets of glass down to smaller sizes — we cannot. As we’ve just explained, each piece of our windows, whether it’s fixed or operational, is completely customized for each individual client. This is where it’s important to note the differences in the types of glass because it changes our ability to make changes after something is cut. Annealed glass can be cut down to size, which means it can be manufactured in large sheets and modified afterward. It’s relatively cheap and easy to make, but it’s not suitable for every situation. If you’ve ever been in an old home with original windows, you were likely looking at single pane annealed glass. Heat-strengthened and tempered (also known as safety) glass must be custom made in every scenario. It’s essentially glass that is heated up and then cooled at least twice (three times for tempered). It’s this process that strengthens the glass, but it also changes the way that the glass behaves when broken.Once heat-strengthened or tempered glass is finished, it cannot be cut or modified in any way. Doing so would literally shatter the glass. Therefore, every single piece we make is made one at a time. Furthermore, we’re not typically making large quantities. One person might be purchasing four security windows, and only two of them are the same size. There’s no way to mass produce our security windows because there’s simply no demand for such a thing. (Additionally, four windows isn’t enough to decrease the per-window cost much.)Think about it this way: the cost of manufacturing one pencil is going to be much higher than the per-pencil price of manufacturing 100,000 pencils. The machine operators get the machinery set up and then they do a quick run of 100,000 pencils and then move on to the next thing. But if they’re setting everything up for just one pencil, they’re using an awful lot of time to set up the machine and then reset it for the next job. Almost every single time we start on a window or door for a client, we’re making one.Just one.
Not Cutting Corners
We’re not going to lie and say you won’t find cheaper security and ballistic windows elsewhere. You absolutely can. It’s just that they won’t be made with the same quality glass and steel that we’re using. Furthermore, they won’t last as long. How many security and ballistic glass manufacturers cut corners (no pun intended) is that they make regular annealed glass (again, cheap to produce and can be cut to any size necessary) and then place a special film over it to strengthen it. For ballistic glass, this film is often tinted green. To be fair, it works — for the most part. If you don’t care about partially obstructing your view (the film will never be completely invisible), and you’re just trying to save money then this solution might work just fine for you. Another way that ballistic glass is made is by laminating two pieces of annealed glass with a polycarbonate layer in the middle. Again, this method does work — it meets the ballistic rating and passes the test for small handguns.However, this is not a long-term solution. Over time, the polycarbonate begins to separate from the glass in a process called delamination. When this happens, it sometimes looks like a bubble is forming from the outside in, or that the window is frosting up (also from the outside in).For people who’ve never witnessed or experienced a frosted window, it sort of looks like tiny snowflakes making their way inward through the glass. While it’s actually quite beautiful if you look at it up close, that’s not exactly what you want to see on your windows, regardless of the reason. It means that your window is either not sealed properly, or that it’s delaminating. Luxury homeowners don’t need to cut corners like this, and there’s no way they want to obstruct that gorgeous view. It’s literally why they bought the house.Luxury homeowners are more discerning than that — they want gorgeous windows that don’t get in their way. They want to feel like they’re outside without actually being outside. This is why we’ve built so many window walls over the years.We do our ballistic glass differently. The main reason delamination happens is because of the polycarbonate layer, which is necessary. But it can’t stay next to that glass forever. How we get around this issue is by laminating our glass on its own, then creating an air gap between each piece of glass and the polycarbonate layer. As you might expect, it’s more expensive to do it this way, but it’s more effective, higher quality, and lasts much longer than the fully laminated pieces others are making. It’s important to us to do it this way because that’s what our clients expect. Their luxury homes are decorated with exquisite art, furnished with impeccable craftsmanship, and designed by experts. They can’t have ugly windows. And again — you don’t want anything blocking that view. The location is the reason you bought the house.
Handmade Craftsmanship from Italian Artisans
Finally, it cannot be overlooked that our fixed windows (as well as operable windows and doors) are handcrafted by Italian artisans. The steel and the glass are created and shaped with the help of machinery, but every single piece that leaves our factory is hand-finished and tested. We’re exceptionally proud of our custom security doors and windows. No one makes what we do — not even close — and we’d love the opportunity to show you what we mean by that. Whether you’re doing a remodel or a new build, we can create custom pieces for you that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today so we can get a feel for what you’re looking for. We can get a quick quote for you and get started on the design so you can have your custom security doors and windows as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you soon!