need help with window sizes

kelvanceFebruary 14, 2012

Hi, I am needing some help determing window sizes for my new farmhouse. I want to try and stay as true to the time period as possibe. We decided on 3' by 5' windows for most, but i'm thinking this might be a little wide for an older home style? Do you think 32" wide might be better than 36"? We live in an older home now and the windows are 27" by 54", which is still a pretty big window. what do you guys think the style will be early 1900's farmhouse.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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sombreuil_mongrel

Old windows were always built according to glass size. Typical residential panes were 8x10; 10x12; 10x14; 12x16; So a sash with 6 @ 12x16 panes ended up being 41"W x 36"H; a sash using 8x10 would only be 28.5"W x 24"H
Nine lite and 12-lite sash were also built and sometimes mix and matched, "nine over six" or "six over nine" were not uncommon.
Smaller panes were much less costly, so smaller windows were used in less formal rooms of a house.
Eventually large panes became less expensive, and single pane sash were within reach of the home-building public. But many people combined multi-lite sash and single-lite sash within one window unit, resulting in a 6 over 1 setup, etc. Having multi-lite windows conveyed an homey and old-fashioned look while the large single pane of the lower sash gave an uninterrupted view and proved that you could afford the most modern look.
Within 10 years either side of 1900 two over two windows with the panes side by side were very common.
Casey

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 2:19PM
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renovator8

Farmhouses came in many different styles. You need to tell us the part of the country.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 2:43PM
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kelvance

The house will be in central west Virginia , I would say the type of farmhouse I am going with is a very simple Victorian in all white.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 4:00PM
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columbusguy1

Is this a new build--I thought you were replacing originals from the first post?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 4:37PM
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renovator8

There were many popular Victorian styles but it would be very unusual for any of them to be painted white. The early 1900's was very late in that period so you might be thinking of the Queen Anne style which was often quite fancy so you might be thinking of the Folk Victorian style.

If you are concerned about the house looking authentic you need to do some more research for your area. Windows should be the least of your concerns.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 6:37PM
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kelvance

thanks renovator8, I've been looking up folk victorian, and sure enough thats what my house will be. I had never heard of folk victorian before now, I just explained it as a simple victorian. I know of 3 of these style homes in my area. I just knew in my head thats this is what my dream house would look like, and i get to build it, yay! I know this is the old home forum and I am building new, but I thought this would be the best place for my question.

Now back to windows, I'm pretty sure these windows look to be around 24' wide, maybe around 4' tall? My house will be somewhat wider than this house, 40' to be exact. Also, there will be 3 windows on the second story, and 2 on the lower, the third on top will be over the door. Other than that this picture is pretty much an exact replica of what we will be building.

So in your opinion, should I go with the smaller windows or the 3' x 5' ? thanks in advance :)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 9:37PM
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columbusguy1

No matter what size the house, 3x5 is just going to be the wrong proportions for single windows--that is a modern size.

My own 1908 house has several different sizes, and in different combinations, but none are 3x5. The largest window in my house is 3' wide, topped with a diamond-paned fixed window, and it is flanked either side by 6/1 windows about 20" wide...I have two 1/1 windows in my bay which are at best 12" wide. The upstairs front windows are all the 27" wide standard, 9/1.

See the pic below:

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:49AM
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millworkman

Be careful as you will need to make certain that your window sizes meet the current building clear opening for EGRESS. Unfortunately they do not care what style house you build only that people can escape in an emergency.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:50AM
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kelvance

thanks everyone, I do belive I am going to go with the standard 27x54, as columbusguy1 stated, these are the size windows we have now in the older home we are getting ready to tear down. I have been pouring over pictures of old homes and these seem to be the most popular size. Thanks goodness the plans arent final yet. I will check the building opening for EGRESS, thanks again

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:14AM
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columbusguy1

I'm pretty sure egress windows are only for basement living spaces...many old houses people have no problems getting out in emergencies, so long as they have a folding ladder to lower outside. My campus neighborhood has many old houses rented by students, and I have almost never seen any updates needed for egress.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:42PM
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renovator8

I'm an architect who has restored and modified old homes for over 40 years. In my opinion the window size you mention is entirely inappropriate for a Queen Anne Victorian, Folk Victorian, Greek Revival, Italianate, or Colonial Revival house. I would expect to find windows that small on an early Colonial cottage.

That size will not even meet the minimum opening requirements for emergency escape and rescue of the IRC so they cannot be put in the bedrooms unless you are building in an area where there is no building code to protect homeowners. (see sizes below).

Late Victorian houses used 7-0 tall exterior doors and the idea of aligning the heads of windows and doors would never have occurred to them. They were keenly aware that taller windows brought more daylight into a room which was a big deal before electric lighting arrived and it arrived much later on farms so farmhouses had tall windows and that is what makes them look so narrow in photos. They were not interested in the view but they were very concerned about capturing daylight.

My lower story window sash heights are 6-0 and the upper ones are 5-3 and my house was built in 1891 as the Victorian era was coming to an end. The height of the top of the openings above the floor is 7-8 and 7-0.

The following sash sizes meet the IRC emergency escape and rescue rules for upper floor bedrooms (but they can certainly be larger):

2-8 x 5-6
2-10 x 5-2
3-0 x 4-10

If this information is not something you are familiar with, you need to hire a design professional to assist you before you make avoidable design mistakes.

The following elevation drawings are of my renovation projects of homes originally built between 1860 and 1915 and the typical window sash sizes are noted.

Here is a link that might be useful: buy this book and look at page 308

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 1:26PM
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renovator8

Building code "egress" from a home must be through doors, corridors, stairs and living spaces but not a garage.

"Emergency escape and rescue openings" are required by building codes in addition to the code required egress in order to allow a second means of escape from a fire.

These escape openings are required from all bedrooms and one is required from a basement although if there is a basement bedroom its opening can count as the basement opening.

Apartment and dormitory regulations are found in a different building code which usually requires two egress paths from the door of the unit to two fire stairs. This code does not apply to a single-family residence.

Please don't try to guess about building code requirements or count on a building inspector to correct your mistakes; you can be cited for a code violation at any time even after the permit issued. I can help here but I can't know all of the conditions and issues so it would be best if you hired a professional to advise you; it's cheap insurance.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 1:46PM
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kelvance

thank you Renovator8, you have given me alot of advice, and we are hiring a professional to design our plans, hopefully meeting with him on sat. We won't have all the buliding codes and inspections where we live, we dont even need actual blueprints for our bank, but I'm with you I want the insurance of a professional helping me through all this, thank you again for posting your drawings, the windows do look a lot more narrow than what they actually are. You've been very helpful.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 4:44PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

Hi,
To use my own little house as an example:
The main floor windows are 2 over 2, 33 wide x 73 tall. The exception is the floor-length front windows that are 33 wide, but 108" tall. The upstairs windows, scaled down a bit because the ceilings are that much lower, are 33x57.

Casey

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:26PM
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ks_toolgirl

Whoa! Back up a sec...

I'm stuck on "the old home we are getting ready to tear down" part. Is that so you can build a new house, to look like an old house, to replace the old house, I'm so confused - lol! (Not judging - just confused...)

I suppose it'd be ridiculous to salvage the old windows for new construction, (then again perhaps not?), but can parts such as those be salvaged in your area? (Windows, trim, flooring, etc). How far from KS are ya? ;-)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:40PM
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kelvance

Ks tool girl, oh it's okay, but yes, our house is in very bad shape, not to mention very small for our growing family, don't gets wrong I love my little house, but it just dosent function for our growing family. Now I am salvaging every single thing I can out of my house now. It's a Jeanie Lynn style house, that was built from the 1800s farmhouse that set on the property. Believe me when I say every salvageable thing, from, beams, lumber, flooring, doors, cast iron tub, pine closets, and and anything else I can:) just not the windows, I would rather have new, but I will be saving them for a greenhouse , I hope!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:59PM
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ks_toolgirl

Dang... I'm out of luck, then. ;-)

Was ready to head out in my truck with a wonder-bar & husband, to take a few things off your hands. "Help with the demo", you know.
:-)
That's great, that you're re-using what you can - I've read so many posts of people looking for salvage trim & such, that I get "flinchy" when I hear of old houses torn down & smashed to bits.
It was an off-topic question - but now, I'm glad I asked! :-)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:30PM
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kelvance

Ya most people think I'm crazy for saving everything, my husband included he just wants to take a bulldozer to it. But I won, lol. Also, it has a lot of meaning to be as the doors, windows, and trim was from my great uncles old store, which some doors have his name written on the side, now how could I ever get rid of that, ya know? I know how hard things are to come by I'm trying to find old doors that match the ones I have now, I found 5 at habitat for humanity, but I still need more, but I don't want to pay a ridiculous price for them!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 8:44AM
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