Submitted by BillB on no date available


A few definitions before starting:
  • muntin : The divider between glass panes
  • grille : The collection of muntins, the resulting grid, within a window.
  • sash : A double hung window is made of two separate windows, each called a sash.
  • lite : The glass area between the muntins.
  • pane : A piece of glass.

I still have this question: Are the words lite and pane interchangeable? These days most windows are made of one sheet of glass, (forget about insulated glass for now), and the grille is applied to the surface, giving the illusion that the window is made of separate pieces of glass. You can get "authentic divided lites", but they cost more. So, maybe a lite is a fake pane and a pane is truely a piece of glass? Anyway, I'll leave it at that.

Many of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses have a horizontal feel, a hint of which exists in our post WWII ranch. Not to elevate our shoe box of a house to the realm of architecture, I can't help notice that horizontal elements, the siding, gutters, low pitched roof, dominate over the vertical. The windows added to the effect too: Each sash of our original double hungs were made of two sparate panes, a configuration referred to as one over one, with a single horizontal divider.

For a bedroom remodel, I ordered two Marvin Double Hungs, but I was told I couldn't get a "one over one" lite configuration. So, stupidly, regretfully, I choose a "three over two" lite configuration. Once I got the windows in, I didn't think the 3 over 2 look was right for the house because the vertical elements in the grille conflicted with the horizontal lines of the siding boards. Luckily though, I had cheaped out and got the removeable grilles, so I just didn't use them. By the way, removeable grilles look terrible from the outside, so unless money is real tight, get the fixed ones.

Muntins Installed

The offending window

Remodeling moved on to other rooms and somehow I ended up at another window dealer where I was told "I could get whatever I wanted" when ordering Marvins, including a one over one configuration. So other than the first two windows I bought, we kept to the original look. Finally the remodleing was done and I had time to fix the two offending, unmatched, windows. However, I'd lost the opportunity to opt for a fairly important feature. When you order an insulated, double paned window, you can specify that spacer bars be placed between the panes during manufacturing to exactly match the grille configuration. The illusion of authentic divided lites depends on the spacer bars. One thing I can't figure out though, is why the manufacturers don't make this spacer bar out of something better looking than a piece of metal, which diminishes the illusion.

An inpact of authentic divided lites with double pane glass is that the muntins have to be wider, about 1 1/4", to hide the sealed edge of the glass. If you get one piece of dual-pane glass and simulated divided lites with a spacer, you can get a narrower muntin, about 7/8". I suppose without a spacer to hide the muntin could as narrow as you like.

That's the story as I write; at least you know to ask the question when designing your window.

Muntins are available over the web, for a reasonable price, but all I wanted was a single horozontal divider in each sash so I made my own. If I'd wanted a more complicated grille, like a 3 over 2, or anything but the single piece, I'd just order it. is one site I thought was well done, though they didn't offer the option of a profiled cut on the muntin end that butts to the window frame, a serious ommision if you ask me. If you Google "muntins window grilles", you'll get a bunch of hits.

Making the Muntins

Muntins Installed

Using a bit with a roller, rout the design on both edges of a board. The thickness of the board must match the desired width of the muntins. I really wanted my muntins to be 7/8" wide to match the other windows but the board I used was a little shy of that; not enough to show once they were installed.

Muntins Installed Then at the table saw, rip the routed edges off at the thickness you want. If you need more pieces, repeat.

Muntins Installed The ends of the muntins need to conform to the window frame profile, which may differ inside and out. The inside profile I needed to match was a quarter oval, 1/2" radius in one direction and 3/8" in the other and the outside was a simple 45 degree bevel.

Fixing the Muntins to the Glass

I used 3 pieces of strong, double-sided tape, about 2 inches long each, for each muntin. A piece at each end and one in the middle, which is strong enough that I can use the muntin to open and close the sash. Cleaning might be a bit of an issue however. The tape keeps the muntin about 1/16" from the glass, so to clean under the muntin, I have to use a thin cloth wrapped around a thin putty knife. It works but it's a pain. I could have used a full length of tape to eliminate the space, but I worried that on the outside, rain would absorb into the tape and keep the muntin wet and cause rot. I did prime and paint the muntins before sticking them on, but that will weather away eventually. We'll see how well these hold up. Maybe I should have used the full length of tape.

Now they match Muntins Installed

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By Ryan on 8/7/2013 9:25:00 AM
Nicely done my friend!

By anonymous on 7/27/2014 6:29:00 PM
Excellent information, thanks for your concern for architectural details.

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