Replacing Old Windows, Help!

littlealexaDecember 20, 2006

Hi all, hope you can help me out or educate me and hubby on the subject. Our house is almost 100 years old and has all of its original wood windows. The 2nd and 3rd floor has the beautiful trim around the window, however PO painted them white. These windows have no storm windows nor screens and are very drafty. The first floor has the beautiful windows with the original wood trim,never painted, (also drafty) however are sealed shut.

DH wants to replace them all, he has been getting various quotes, yesterday we had the salesman type that was gonna replace them all and give us the plastic faux grain on the interior of the windows and the exterior would be clad in aluminum. The truth of the matter, I did not like, his salesman approach, almost forcing DH to sign. I told him I wanted to conserve the intergrity of the house and heard that aluminum casings on the outside isn't good. I have been arguing with hubby over this, why would you replace wood windows with vinyl? I suggested getting a glass company and having them make storm windows and screens.

Any thoughts? I will also be posting this in the Windows forum just so that DH can get some ideas. Thanks in advance.

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You are right on the money with thinking that your wood windows are better repaired than replaced with something like vinyl (God forbid) or aluminum.

If they are just beyond repair, there are wood replacement windows that you can buy.

The reason that vinyl windows are called replacement is exactly that, you will end up replacing them eventually.
Your existing windows have been there for what? 100 years now? Think about that.
How long do you think that vinyl will last? 10 years? 15? Not long in comparison.

Good reglazing, weather striping, and adding storms will be your best shot. And they will keep the value of your home higher.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 11:51AM
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I agree that keeping the original windows will keep your home value higher. New glazing, weather stripping - check spring bronze which is easy to install, and adding storms -yes they can be made individually, would be the solution I'd go with. I'd also lean that way because it will be alot cheaper than having to buy new vinyl windows every 10 or so years. Good luck convincing hubby!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 1:33PM
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Its relatively easy to construct and install storm windows where needed. That will reduce heat loss and drafts on the 2nd and 3rd floor. It is possible to remove an old window from the frame, remove the old putty and paint, remove the glass, repair the wood as required, re-install the glass, and re-paint. The results will look great, and the window will perform well for many decades. The cost of materials for this approach is low, likely below 50 dollars per window. But there is considerable time involved. You might be able to complete two per month. Also, the existing windows might have lead pigment in the paint, so you will need to use extra care when removing paint and putty, to protect yourselves and also to avoid contaminating your house and yard. If you do this yourself, it might take two years to get the project finished.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 10:17AM
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Talk to a couple more window replacement companies.

We replaced the windows that were a 100 years old in our old home. We kept all the original trim inside and just covered up the trim outside.

It was worth it, the house was so much more comfortable.

Any salesman who is pressuring you to sign probably doesn't work for the best of companies.

Take your time.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 10:45PM
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Please consider going with storms rather than replacing your old windows. As another poster mentioned, your wood windows have been around for 100 years for a good reason.

Think about the fact that you can replace every single individual piece on a wood window. I don't think (someone correct me if I'm wrong here) you would be able to do that with aluminum or vinyl. Once they go, you have to re-replace them. I don't have the time at the moment to give you a ton of information but again, I ask that you continue considering keeping your existing windows and going with good-quality storms. You will be surprised at how comfortable you can be.

There have been some very heated, but eloquent threads on this and other forums concerning replacing historic windows. Check them out and (hopefully) keep your old windows in your old house! :)

I also recommend visiting the Old House Web forums and doing some searches of the threads there.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Old House Web forums

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 8:24AM
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We had wood storm windows built for our 100 year old house this summer. Ours have a permanent pane of glass in the top and an interchangable panel in the bottom -- glass for winter and screen for summer.

Cost was ~$4,000 for 20 primed but not painted windows (one of those windows is enormous and another has a curved top, so that added to the overall cost). We got them from Adams Architectural in Iowa, and we are very pleased with them.

You're lucky to still have the original windows. Unless they are in horrible condition, I'd try hard to keep them.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 4:35PM
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Granted my 1911 house is in a climate where it's never terribly cold. But I do know that anything is better than replacing original windows. It hurts the historic fabric of the house, and lowers the value, too. In our Historic Preservation Overlay Zone that is now illegal, and if someone does it without a permit, they must take out the vinyl/alumininum windows and put wood windows back. (If they pull a permit, the city tells them they can't do it.)Surely storm windows are an option.

Your wood windows may even have the original wavy glass in them, which is lovely and adds greatly to the value of your house. All our windows but 1 have wavy glass, and looking out of them is a treat.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 11:24PM
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We repleced all ours,with screens and storms.It was like $800 a window,With the original wavy glass.we had 2 men do it that specialize in restoration.Looks good.The same thing that we had only new.the storms are full window.and screens are bottom half only.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2006 at 8:32AM
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Okay, from the inside here's the before:

and the after:

We did Kolbe & Kolbe sash replacements, aluminum clad exterior and wood interior. Ours were unfixable for a number of reasons and we elected to replace our 140+ year old windows. We chose true divided light 2 over 2 sashes that matched almost exactly. Now, if we had fancy beveled glass or stained glass windows of course we wouldn't have replaced them, but these were a pretty good compromise. We also added new storms. Much more comfortable in the house. I don't expect to see a huge payback as far as utility costs go but they have meant a lot in terms of comfort.

Sometimes it makes sense to do a replacement, sometimes not. Only you can decided what's best for you. Our house isn't fancy, it's not especially historically important. It's just old--and not everything old is superior.

On top of our window replacement, we did a major addition at the same time. it is matched well with the old house--including using the same siding materials, poplar clapboards, same proportion, same trim moldings, etc. We added a large french door on the back. We've changed this place a lot--and for the better I hope.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 10:00AM
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Mine were only about 80 years old. I had Pozzi sash replacements put in. They're wood with aluminum cladding on the outside of the sashes, primed on the inside for painting. Only the old sashes and the metal things the ropes fit on were removed. The ropes and weights were long gone on most of them anyway. I saved the old sashes with the wavy glass. The old window trim wasn't touched. I really like them. They'll make them however you want. Mine are three over one.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 3:12PM
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Thank you all for your replies!!! We will definitely be keeping our waving glass windows and will be meeting with a restoration place. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 4:42PM
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Well thank you for saving your windows! Now I won't have to cringe and get depressed when I go by your house ;-)

Seriousl,y you won't be sorry and that's ten grand (or more) you can use somewhere else in your house.

Same as what everyone else said--it really does affect the esthetic integrity and there are many other (cheaper) ways of addressing the heat loss issues. If the previous owners already removed original windows then its not such a big deal but if you've got original windows in good operating condition then yes, it will increase your house's value. When I was looking I didn't even bother to look at the ones w/ lots of vinyl and "re-muddling." An old window that's well balanced with correct weights and has all the paint and crud removed from the channels glides open so smoothly and because they are so simple technologically they can be repaired rather than thrown out in 20 or 30 yrs.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2006 at 6:38PM
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"Well thank you for saving your windows! Now I won't have to cringe and get depressed when I go by your house ;-) "
my sentiments exactly -
I cringe when i see lovely older homes - with vinyl windows or cheap replacements that have nothing to do with the original architecture

The original windows that came with the house are CUSTOM windows! Therefore for the majority the BEST for your home - Now naturally anything that is 100yrs old that has stood the test of time, and been neglected needs some care.

I had this very issue in our 75 yo home/windows - sounds like you can remedy your situation - windows painted shut or stuck can get unstuck - if you have rope pulleys - sash type they can be re strung
I had all new parting strips, new ropes, some new weights, reglazing/putty (interior only) where needed, new panes for serious through cracked ones - 2 minor not through on wavy glass left - I paid around $150/window to have them rehabbed - 2 guys & it took quite some time for them to get through this project -

Adams architecture is a great place for storms
you could also get triple track - harvey windows makes one of the better in the industry with tru channel -

Good luck - and do convince hubby

Here is a link that might be useful: harvey

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 1:01AM
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littlealexa, I went through the same process last year. You can look up the threads which has additional useful information, and with some of the same useful folks offering their opinions.
I opted to rehab my windows, at considerable cost, and if I were to do it again, I would opt for a really nice, aesthetically sympathetic replacement window.
In the end we paid about $600 a window for cosmetic and structural rehab, including all new spring bronze weatherstripping, weatherstripping routed into the sashes, etc... We also paid about $200 a window for the top rated Harvey's. I also caulked well around the exterior and interior of the windows. In the end, our drafty windows turned into leaky windows. A nice improvement - no more need for the plastic sheets over the windows, but the level of comfort is still not where it should be. Neighbors replaced their old double hungs with a nice Marvin for $800 a window. The difference is really really noticeable. Their air infiltration, that used to be similar to ours is now about nil.
The weight pockets will always be a draft problem unless they are insulated. This involves having to take the trim off from the inside, an enormous pain, and not part of the normal old window rehab process. I am reluctanlty about to begin this process.
Not needing a storm is also a nice convenience, I now think, and much nicer aesthetically from the outside.

I would strongly suggest that you get a good referral for a Marvin or similar dealer and see what they say, and if possible ask for a reference where you can see where they have replaced "old" windows. All cases are different, but I would urge you to thoroughly check all options. I know it gets cold in Chicago!
Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 11:34PM
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I am facing the same choice soon with my house. I just bought it a year ago this week and will be working on some other projects before windows. I have looked at replacement windows. I do not want to tear out the entire frame. The ones that fit in the old sash openings are what I am going for. My home is not in a historic preservation area so I can do what I want. I feel that something with insolated glass will make my home more comfortable. I even have storm window and they stink. still I get drafts and I can hear the windows rattle on windy days. most of my sash cords are broken or gone and only a few windows still have the original wavy glass plus appearance wise I like the look of the replcement windows better than the how the metal storms look from the curb side. new windows also tilt in to make cleaning much easier, a convience I really want to have.

the brands I am looking at are Thermostar by pella and window world. here are links the those companys sites

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 11:50AM
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A friend of mine just went through this a couple of years back. She ended up stripping and reglazing the original old windows and getting interior storms. They work great and you honestly don't notice them. She bought the sliding screens at Walmart because there were none. She thought they were fine and wouldn't have gone the build your own route on those. The cost was very reasonable compared to getting all new windows, which for wood, 6 over 6 was pretty spendy. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2007 at 12:38PM
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mike 73 please check out 'This Old House' at their web page. look for the Government article they reference on the historical significance of windows as an architurel element and how to evaluate windows for repair or replacement. The article give some general suggestions on how to stabilize and repair your existing sash and frames.
I believe the link provide will take you to Star Distributing's web site. One of the projects the list is repairing a rotted sash and frame.

I also stumbled onto a blog on wood boat repair. sorry no link or name, ment to save it! they were discussing ethylene glycol,(3 coats, allowing to dry between coats to touch). Then stabilizing with a light bodied epoxy, filling voids and rebuilding using an epoxy sawdust mixture or good quality wood filler.

I do not work for nor represent 'This Old House' or Star-Distributing. I do not endorse or recommend their techniques or products. I offer the information only to provide possibly helpful sources to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: star distributing

    Bookmark   November 23, 2007 at 2:53AM
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Circus Peanut

Probably the two best existing sources of old wooden window repair information are:

1. Terry Meany's book Working Windows

2. John Leeke's Historic Homeworks stellar windows forum

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Not simply carry out your outdated home windows find discarded, but convertible top is a oil product or service that individuals have no need for any further regarding Masters WA. The actual greenest, many vitality successful issues you can do is always to restore and maintain your home windows an individual currently have!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 5:56AM
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