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Old 07-20-2016, 08:10 PM   #1
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Insulating around metal frame plate glass


I just had a bunch of huge plate glass windows installed, but the installer did not put any foam in the substantial gap/u channel around the metal frame. The carpenter doing my interior woodwork says he always sees foam in that gap, since it's usually insulated from the inside before he puts in the trim. Now the cedar trim has been attached on the outside and the contractor is telling me there is a SUPPOSED to be a gap there. I just don't see how that can be true--I'm in Texas and it gets really hot here. Is there any reason not to put expanding foam in the gap besides laziness? I've attached a photo (I hope)
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:03 AM   #2
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


That gap should be sealed in some capacity with a flexible substrate that will accommodate joint movement. Is the interior side still open? It can be done from the inside as well, but you want your air seal to be where the envelope barrier is (ideally in your case at the sheathing level to prevent the bulk movement of warm moist air).

Were they flanged windows that were installed?
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Old 07-21-2016, 08:40 AM   #3
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


Foam provides two functions, air seal and insulation, but completely filling that gap with expanded foam, as wow said, may not allow the necessary expansion. The window mfg should have guidance on this issue and since they have the warranty responsibility, that is what you should follow. The mfg will probably also have guidance on how they are supported at the bottom.

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Old 07-21-2016, 09:19 AM   #4
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


The metal frame was custom cut and fitted and the plate glass installed after the frame was in place. The U track around the complete unit is about 4 inches wide and an inch and a half deep. I believe there as enough of a flange on the inside to screw to the 2 x 4's, but there wasn't a wide flange on the exterior, as you can see from the photos.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:08 AM   #5
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


Air sealing and insulating are two different functions. Air sealing can be just about anything. Then the insulation can be fiberglass or mineral wool. Going with expanding foam next to a metal frame isn't going to help a lot. The frame may have a thermal brake (hope so) but the difference between expanded foam and some neatly fitted Roxul will be minimal. Air barrier as wow suggested due to your slightly warmer climate.

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Old 07-21-2016, 01:20 PM   #6
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


--------------------- Welcome to the forums!------------------

You really need a piece of wood trim in the wide gap as a sealant/caulking won't work alone because it is too wide to get an hourglass shape for optimum expansion/contraction, even with a backer rod (closed cell- to stop air/moisture). I doubt the depth is deep enough for caulking alone but reducing the one big gap to two narrow ones- you will have enough depth/width ratio; ----page 35- https://books.google.com/books?id=XH...0break&f=false

I'd replace the siding piece under the window flange with same trim all around, of cedar to expand at same rate as the siding. When installing, using the ratio set by your established depth to the sheathing or framing/flange; you can figure the piece width. Have it stand proud of the siding by 1/4" off the wall plane of siding laps, it looks better that way. If room, add some sticky window wrap, cut narrower to fit on the flange (hidden by trim board) and next to (if not under) the siding, stuck to the housewrap. Canned foam the inside with low-expanding for optimum air seal, packing a fibrous insulation in there does next to nothing; https://books.google.com/books?id=a2...(1995)&f=false

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Old 07-21-2016, 01:36 PM   #7
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


@gary " packing a fibrous insulation in there does next to nothing;"
It works fine if the gap has been air sealed as stated.

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Old 07-21-2016, 02:23 PM   #8
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Re: Insulating around metal frame plate glass


I'd still be a little concerned that the air is free to circulate (convective loops) in the however wide space between window flange/wood framing by "huge plate glass windows" depends on local climate. As Roxul is better at stopping airflow than FG, there may be no worries either way on the convective looping. I always suggest the best way to my knowledge. As Roxul ComfortBatt has a density of 2# per cu.ft., about twice that of low density fiberglass- (1.2% conduction by glass fibers and 60% conduction by the air spaces with 1# cu.ft.http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1969-606) yet foam is known for low conduction. I'd use it just to stop any thermal conduction. Granted, it may be a small area 5"x5' high times 4 sides= 10 sq.ft. or less with a wood sill, per window. All is mute if the frame has a thermal break, other than better insulation is in there using foam against the heat/cold at all times, not even considering the superior convective looping/air sealing capabilities. There is also the cost/availability factor of buying one can of spray foam or one batt of Roxul... some areas don't even stock mineral wool.

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Last edited by Gary in WA; 07-21-2016 at 02:51 PM. Reason: sp
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