We have all been spending more time at home over the past year, so home improvement issues have come to the forefront of many minds. Home improvement companies have been searching the globe to find new and better ways to make our homes more comfortable year-round -- for example, the European Tilt and Turn Vinyl Windows and Doors series.
American Thermal Window of Chicago and its Sahara Window and Doors division, which recently relocated from Mount Prospect to an expanded facility in Niles, is no exception. In fact, the company recently added this series to its inventory.
"This sophisticated style has been available for years in Europe. Turn the handle upward and the upper part of the sash tilts slightly to allow safe and easy ventilation. You may also turn the handle to the horizontal position and the sash pivots vertically to offer a larger opening. Turn the handle down and it will be hermetically sealed," said Iver Johnson Sr., owner.
Johnson is a former Chicago police officer who has been providing windows and doors to Chicago-area homeowners for 38 years. Both stores have retained their individual names, but the two showrooms function as the same company with identical offerings and crews that skillfully install a variety of products in single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and commercial properties.
Johnson said most people think of a front door as giving visitors their first impression of the home and providing security. But it, like a home's windows, should also provide a wind break to keep cold breezes outside and heated air inside.
Fiberglass is a common modern choice for outside doors because it is very durable, Johnson said, but his two companies also offer nationally recognized Simpson Doors that are made of solid oak, birch, cherry, poplar and other woods, produced in America. Doors that must be fire-rated (such as those between a garage and a home) must be metal and the showrooms also sell those.
American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors often open exterior walls or enlarge existing windows (in homes with all types of exteriors) in order to allow the installation of replacement doors and windows. It offers 58 different door styles with 36 standard paint and stain combinations and more than 200 custom glass options. Custom colors are also possible, as are security wrought iron decorated doors with lockguards and nonremovable hinges for those who like the New Orleans look -- or are worried about their safety. The wrought iron doors come with screens for air flow and mail slots, too.
Johnson's two companies also install custom patio doors. Custom cuts, designer glass and designer grids are readily available. Steel security storm doors are also part of the inventory for unbeatable protection, as are garden windows for growing plants, windows with blinds between the panes and fashionable doors with decorative glass options.
Johnson stressed that if you are one of the many who are working and educating children from home these days, the next time we have a chilly day it might behoove you to sit on the floor in various spots around your home (especially the places where your children and grandchildren like to play and/or study) and see if you feel cold breezes infiltrating from outdoors.
If you can feel a chill, consider what that heat loss/cold air invasion will do to your family's heating bills this winter.
"Window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products. Today's windows, which are generally available in wood, vinyl and aluminum, have much higher energy ratings than those being replaced, of course, so they save on heating and cooling costs," Johnson said.
Windows also act as "ambassadors to your home and family." Eye-catching bay, picture and other specialty windows add personality to a home while also keeping the interior of the home comfortable. His companies carry 10 window lines, including Marvin, Pella and Andersen.
"We only offer the best. If it isn't up to our standards, we don't carry it," Johnson said.
Johnson cautioned that homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework.
"You want to choose a company that makes sure your improvement project is completed to expectation, from the point of choosing the most suitable items with the help of knowledgeable reps, to the installation," he explained. "We only use our own very experienced installation crews and almost all of our manufacturers offer lifetime warranties."
When you contract with a company, it should also have a long track record and high standing on rating services like Angie's List and Yelp.
"You can't purchase those ratings. They have to be earned. We have been awarded with the Angie's List's Super Service Award for several years in a row and have exceptional ratings from Yelp, Google and the Better Business Bureau. Those ratings reflect the way our customers feel about us," Johnson said.
"At American Thermal and Sahara we all understand what it is to own a home, so we are easily able to relate to our customers," Johnson said. "We strive to make sure our customers receive a positive experience from beginning to end, from their initial phone call to their interaction with the sales rep and the showroom staff, to their experience with the installation crews. We want nothing but positive experiences!"
Delivery times depend on the order's complexity, so if you want new doors or windows before winter, make your choices soon, Johnson advises. But keep in mind that his crews do work year-round "because we are capable of doing all of the windows in an average house in a day without causing undue temperature fluctuations." So even if the snow flies early, your installations can be done.
All of Johnson's installation crews are employed directly by American Thermal Window and Sahara Window and Doors and are highly trained and held to exacting standards. They always arrive in company trucks and the average installer has a minimum of 13 years of experience, he said.
Incidentally, Johnson's firms also have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because they are willing to attend association meetings at no charge. They also offer a wide variety of fire-rated windows and doors for mid- to high-rise residential buildings and commercial properties, as well as gutter guards for residential properties.
The American Thermal Window showroom is located at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and the new Sahara Window and Doors showroom is located at 6619 W. Jarvis in Niles.
"We encourage people to come in to one of our showrooms and see our displays," he said. "There is always someone to serve you. We are open in Niles, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In Chicago we are open those same hours, Monday through Friday, as well as 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays."