When most people think about windows, they automatically consider them to be a weak point. Windows are made of glass and glass breaks when hard objects hit it, right? Well this isn’t the case with Western Window Systems. This small Arizona-based company is focused on revolutionizing the way that people build homes and layout their living areas.
Their folding doors are sleek, elegant, and designed to fit perfectly into the design of your house, whether you’re working on a new construction project or you’re renovating an existing space. Today, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look into Western Window Systems’ folding doors. Although they do offer windows as well as sliding and hinged doors, this review will focus primarily on their folding door systems.
Western Windows Systems has been around since 1959, making them one of the nation’s leaders in high-tech windows and home solutions. They claim to be one of the top choices of architects and homebuilders across the country, and a quick look into their history can easily verify this.
In 2014, they were named one of Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies. They stayed on this list for 3 years straight. In 2018, the company was acquired by PGT Innovations– a large collective that focuses on providing consumers and builders with high-quality technology and innovations for their homes.
If you’re the type of person who makes their purchases based on the overall quality and message of a brand, then this is a great company to do business with. Just one look at their “About” page will show you that they’re family and community-oriented. They focus on creating a positive, open, and inclusive environment for their workers and also give back to local charities in their area. Once you see some of their advanced folding door systems, you’ll see that everything they’ve done to create a great working environment is evident in the overall quality of their products.
Some folding door companies offer a completely customizable experience in which the buyer can piece together exactly how they want their doors to look. While this is great for control freaks, sometimes having too many options is a bad thing.
In order to simplify the buying process, Western Window Systems offers two distinct product lines for its bi-fold doors. Although the overall appearance is similar, the materials used are different and designed to fulfill various customer needs depending on their location and desired level of protection.
Two Product Lines:
The classic line was Western Windows System’s first folding door on the market. If you’re looking at their product line, this is referred to as their 9500 Series Bi-Fold Door. It’s a simple design but is packed full of innovative features.
The frame is made of a durable aluminum material that’s designed to be low-cost, lightweight, and easy to maintain. In addition to this, the 9500 Series also offers some great features to make it more energy-efficient. It has thermal breaks inside of the aluminum to prevent heat transfer from side to side. The double-glazed glass panes are low-emission and coated with a material that reduces hot or cold transfer between the glass.
The doors are held on-track by strong stainless steel ball bearings that are designed to hold your door in place no matter how heavy or large it is. Speaking of which- you’ll be able to design your 9500 Series doors to fit into multiple different configurations or even change the size of your doors to fit your particular project.
Overall the 9500 Series is perfect for homes that are located in moderate climates and don’t have to worry bout severe weather storms. The windows are energy-efficient and designed to withstand standard wind and rain.
If you’re looking for an upgrade in strength and a sleeker appearance, then your next option is the 7950 Series Bi-Fold Doors- otherwise known as the Performance Line. This line is designed to be extra energy-efficient and able to withstand strong storms.
The frame is made up of the same thermally-broken aluminum from the 9500 line. You’ll be able to tell the main difference in the windows. The windows boast a .3 U-value and are dual-glazed with an Argon gas filling to further lower emissions and energy transfer between panes. This also means that they’re fully compliant with the strictest energy ratings and codes in the country.
The glass can be customized with a wide variety of anti-glare, winterized, or laminate options to ensure that your view is nothing short of perfect. To top it all off, the 7950 Series has a design penetration rating of 50, which is currently being tested to withstand hurricane-force winds and flying objects.
Now that you know your two options with this company, let’s take a look at some of the technical specifications and materials used to create these awesome doors.
All Western Windows System bi-fold doors use a strong aluminum for the door frame design. While other companies often offer wood or vinyl options, this company has chosen to specialize in one reliable design rather than expand into different areas and compromise its quality. Western Window Systems is primarily focused on strength, low-maintenance design, and energy-efficiency- aluminum is the one material that can guarantee all of these at once.
Now, you may be wondering where the thermally-broken part comes in. This is the real technology. Here’s how it works-
When the company is bending and molding the door frame, they insert a thin layer of synthetic plastic (sometimes called a polyamide break) into the interior of the door frame. This material is resistant to temperature change. So, although aluminum (and metal in general) is usually known for attracting heat and not being a good thermal insulator, this “thermal break” transforms the metal into an energy-efficient solution for your home.
Western Window Systems offers a few different options for their track and door thresholds.
Water Barrier Sill
If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, storms, snow, ice or other harsh weather, then you’ll want to opt for this option. The water barrier sill includes a 2-inch tall lip that extends upward on the front side of the door, preventing floodwater from entering your home. It’s also a good option if your folding door opens up to a large swimming pool or jacuzzi area to prevent puddles from spreading inside.
If you’re looking for a smoother doorway transition, then the flush seal is a great option. It also looks a lot more stylish. The sill is only half as tall as the performance water barrier sill and is less than 1-inch tall. The sides of the sill are slightly angled to make it easier for strollers, wheelchairs, and other objects with wheels to cross without too much trouble. The one problem with this lower-profile style of track is that it can’t withstand excessive flooding. It’ll do just fine in regards to rainwater, but anything more may result in a leaking.
If your folding door mainly serves as an interior door and you don’t have to worry about water, then a simple U-track will do just fine. It’s the lowest profile design that Western Window Systems offers, and is perfect for room to room transition such as garage interiors or rooms within your home. This track is not warrantied for water damage, though, so it’s not a good option for any exterior-facing folding doors.
If you purchase the performance 7950 Series, then they automatically come with head-load hinges as these tend to be the most durable option. However, if you opt for the classic 9500 Series, then you’ll be able to select between a bottom-load hinge system or a top-load hinge system.
In most cases, the top-load hinges are a bit more durable and can withstand higher wind forces. However, depending on the design of your room, or if you’re looking for less obvious hardware, you may appreciate the bottom-load hinges that lay below eye-level.
All hardware options are painted with the same powder coat as the doors so that they match.
Since Western Window Systems only offers aluminum doors, your color options are fairly straightforward.
In-Stock Aluminum Finishes:
- Bronze anodized finish (black/bronze)
- Satin anodized finish (silver/white)
Designer Aluminum Finishes:
- Satin Anodized
- Bronze Anodized
- Hillside Bronze *
- Bison Beige *
- Navajo White *
- Briar *
- Stonish Beige *
- Autumn Night *
- Warmtone *
- Cinnamon Toast *
- White *
Any of the designer finishes marked with an asterisk (*) can be split-finished. This means that you could use one color for the exterior and another for the interior of your home. It’s a great way to add a splash of color to your space!
If you’re trying to match a specific color, then Western Window Systems will be happy to take care of your request and can match almost any swatch that you bring to them.
Western Window Systems designs all of their folding door systems custom to order and can accommodate a wide range of sizes. The maximum height for both the 9500 and the 7950 bi-fold doors is 12-feet tall. The 7950 bi-fold door is also available in a window or bar-top model which can be as short as 3 or 4-feet.
Since Western Window Systems works directly with architects and homebuilders, you can configure your folding doors to fit into any space you’d like. As long as your contractor can make it happen, you can pick any configuration you’d like.
Like many folding door companies, Western Window Systems folding doors are made-to-order. This means that you can only get an accurate quote by talking to a representative. The price you pay will depend heavily on the style of bi-fold door you get (9500 or 7950), how many/how large panels are, as well as any paint specifications, custom installation instructions, and how far the doors are being shipped.
Western Window Systems bi-folding doors are designed to be installed by a professional. You may use your own contractor if he feels up to the job, but you can also use one of Western Window Systems’ certified contractors if you’re looking for somebody who has more experience.
For specific warranty information, you can check out the manufacturers’ documents here. In general, though, Western Windows Systems offers a great warranty. Although it can vary depending on the type of setup that you get, your options usually include:
- Limited lifetime warranty on all glass
- 10-year warranty on hardware and installation
Pros And Cons
- Sturdy aluminum doors- all designed with thermal breaks for energy-efficiancy
- Easy to choose between two distinct models: class 9500 series or performance 7950 series
- Western Windows System has been in business since 1959 and has a great reputation
- Option for storm-proof windows
- 7950 series is compliant with the strictest environment regulation
- Only available in aluminum- no wood or vinyl options
What Other Customers Are Saying
Now, let’s take a look at what some other Western Windows System customers are saying on the internet. The brand won the best portfolio of 2020 from Houzz with its intuitive, creative designs. Overall, the reviews are great in regards to the quality! The few bad reviews we’ve found usually have to do with shipping problems. Here are some of the most helpful reviews we found from their customers.
- “We had our Western Window Wall installed in our new home three years ago. We love them! Sound proof and tight fitting, slide with ease and best of all we can extend our living area to the outside by just sliding them open to our patio area. Great customer service.” – Douglas Krebs
- “We’ve used Western Window Systems on several of our projects. Time after time they deliver the clean, modern look our clients expect as well as the performance and quality that they demand.” – Blackbox Design Studios
- “Western makes a high quality product. Their customer service is very good as well. I’ve worked on several projects with them now where they have been able to build windows and doors to sizes that the mainstream wood and clad-wood window companies were not able to make.” – Zeke Keel
- “Well… just when we finally thought our Western Window Systems problems were about to be solved, we now find out that one of the trapezoid windows in the kitchen was fabricated backwards. This is now 3 windows in our project that have to be reordered” – Jennifer Brower
- “I moved into a newly constructed home that had Western Windows installed two years ago. Several of the double-pane windows have a seal issue where moisture is accumulating between the two panes of glass. The builder/developer reached out to them several times in the past month and gotten no response.” – Jason
If you’re looking for an innovative, creative solution to open up your home to the great outdoors, then Western Window Systems are definitely worth a look! They provide durable aluminum construction that can withstand whatever nature throws your way, and are a great solution for those living in coastal areas commonly hit by tropical storms or hurricanes.