Like windows, older doors can be drafty, too

Chicago-area home and condominium owners generally love large patio doors that allow access to outdoor spaces and also allow them to look out at those spaces when the weather is inclement.

But that love affair is often dampened by the incredible loss of treated air (warm or cool) they cause, as well as the security challenges they often pose.

"Fall is a great time to consider replacing those old patio doors," said Iver Johnson Sr., owner of American Thermal Window of Chicago and Sahara Window and Doors of Niles. "We stock new, state-of-the-art sliding doors, French doors and hinged doors that can fill those large spaces and they simply don't leak air.

"These new doors also offer triple-lock security so you can forget about bracing your slider with a broom handle," Johnson chuckled, "and you can also opt for between-the-glass horizontal mini-blinds that remain clean and can't be damaged by children and pets."

Johnson's two companies also offer and install custom cuts and designer glass and grids. They also have the ability to enlarge a standard window opening in order to replace it with a patio door if that is what you are seeking.

Also keep in mind that the federal government is once again offering an income tax credit for those who invest in windows and exterior doors that meet certain energy standards, he said.

"Just pick up the phone or stop in at one of our showrooms and tell the representatives that you want to get the tax credit and they will help you meet the requirements with the qualifying products," Johnson continued.

Those seeking to instead replace their aging windows can also turn to American Thermal Window/Sahara. For instance, they offer European "tilt and turn" windows that have become popular here in the states because they allow better ventilation while also minimizing the transfer of dust and dirt from outdoors, Johnson said.

"People with lots of high-tech computer equipment in their home offices have been particularly pleased with these windows," he noted. "But they are also wonderful in homes with young children and others who may be sensitive to environmental dust. They have been common in Europe for years but have been relatively difficult to find in the United States."

Johnson also emphasized that eye-catching bay, picture and other specialty windows add personality to a home while also keeping the interior of the home comfortable and saving the owner money.

"Window manufacturers are continually upgrading their products," he said. "Today's windows, which are generally available in Fiberglas, wood, vinyl and aluminum, have much higher energy ratings than those being replaced, of course, so they save on heating and cooling costs. Fiberglas has become especially popular and is taking a lot of market share because it is stronger and more substantial than the other materials."

American Thermal/Sahara offers nine window lines (including Marvin, Pella and Andersen), 58 door styles with 36 standard paint and stain combinations and more than 200 custom glass options.

Ultramodern painted wood or Fiberglas exterior doors with large art glass inserts have also been the choice of many who want to replace older doors with glass ovals and rectangles. They come in 40 standard paint colors and custom colors can also be mixed.

When it comes to outside doors, Fiberglas is a common modern choice because it is very durable, he continued, but his stores 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, however, (like those between a garage and a home) must be metal and the showrooms also sell those.

He also cautioned that homeowners shopping for replacement windows and doors need to do their homework before choosing someone to supply those new windows and doors (no matter the brand) and then install them. When you contract with a company it should have a long track record and high standing on rating services like the Better Business Bureau, Google and Yelp, as American Thermal/Sahara does, he said.

All of Johnson's installation crews are employed directly by American Thermal/Sahara 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 continued.

It also bears noting that Sahara and American Thermal have a good following with condominium and townhouse associations because representatives are willing to attend association meetings at no charge and offer a wide variety of fire-rated windows and doors for mid- to high-rise residential buildings and commercial properties.

The American Thermal Window showroom is located at 5304 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and the Sahara Window and Doors showroom is located at 6619 W. Jarvis in Niles.

For an appointment, call (847) 259-9099 or (773) 774-3131, visit or

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