Joseph Boggs designed a waterfront home in Crownsville, Maryland, with windows from Pella. © William Mills

Ask the Pros: Architecture

Advice on designing the perfect home by the bay

What properties do you look for when selecting windows for a waterfront home?
Waterfront homes experience heavy thermal and moisture exposure, especially on the ocean where salt-water spray plays havoc. Basically, you get what you pay for in windows—those with new-growth pine will not hold up as well as teak or mahogany, for example. Larger windows with operating mechanisms are more likely to warp or fail at some point. And reflections off the water can augment UV deterioration, causing paint to fade and rubber/caulk joints to fail sooner.

We have found that vinyl-clad windows hold up well to the wetter climate while aluminum-clad ones do not. Recessing the windows helps with aging and exposure, whereas windows installed flush with the walls are difficult to seal properly. Modern designs often require a lightweight, commercial-glazing system for large-exposure glass. Mahogany windows with impact-resistant structural glass work well for high-wind and hurricane-prone areas but are expensive. —Joseph Boggs, FAIA, NCARB, Boggs & Partners Architects, Annapolis, Maryland