Totally Confused About Window Replacement - Help!

LaurieApril 8, 2010

I am about to close on a 1915 (at least) Craftsman style home (actually an American Foursquare, in that style).

All the windows need replacement, as do the exterior doors. 21 windows in total. Sills are rotted and deteriorated on most of them, glass broken in some, truly they are a mess and can not be saved according to my Architect and Contractor. Both have recommended replacement as the house is not historically significant, although lovely.

I don't think I can afford wood, so vinyl or fiberglass is the option. I'm contemplating Anderson, Pella, Jeld-Wyn or Marvin as the only 3 options.

Looking at these 4 (for windows only - I like Jeld-Wyn for doors), Marvin seems to stand out. I've worked in the architectural field myself (my Architect in fact is my old boss) for over 25 years and have read enough specs through the years to sort of understand things but I'm just really baffled on this window thing for some reason. I guess, Marvin seems to have the best selection of colors, options, etc. and I believe, their guarantee is lifetime as opposed to the others having lesser ones. Plus, I think they were the only ones offering wood on the inside, which was nice too.

Quality-wise? Not sure if any are that much better than others.

Any inside advice you can give me would be helpful. My contractor will be coming out around May 10th to measure the windows and I need to have a manufacturer picked out by then. I do know all of those companies are ones that he has used before, so he feels same as I do - any would be fine and in the end it's what I can afford which will dictate what I wind up with - but truthfully if something is THAT much better than the others I am willing to pony up the extra money to make sure I get the best quality possible. I don't want to have to worry about replacing a replacement, you know?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some details as to which models and options you are looking at would be helpful.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'll try and dig them out. That was part of my problem lol. I was getting overwhelmed trying to figure out the differences between them :(

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

sivyaleah, Please please please post this note on the forums at There are homeowners over there who restore original wood windows and can walk you through steps as well as save you lots of $$$.

I would not take the word of your contractor - 99% of contractors don't know anything about restoration. And unless your architect is an old home specialist, I'd research further.

Here's a Mass window restoration company, and she travels, as well.
At least give her a call and get additional info.

Here is a link that might be useful: window restoration

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Patser.

Actually - my contractor specializes in restoration of old buildings. The company I used to work for did many projects with NYC Housing Preservation and Development - and has dealt with repairing and replacing more windows that one could count.

I trust his judgement completely when it comes to this. He was out at my house a few weeks ago for the home inspection, because he didn't want to take the inspector's word for what he found. The inspector also recommended complete replacement, as there is water damage (and past insect damage) to many of them from gutters which have not been maintained for many years (the house, has been sitting empty for a long time).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We've lived in a Queen Anne, a 1905 4 square and now a 1919 bungalow and we've done restoration on all. We've also been very active in historic preservation in each community.

I've never seen vinyl or aluminum windows that look "right" on old homes. If it was me, I'd restore sills and broken glass where possible, thereby saving money for new wood windows on those that actually are in the worst shape.

We took out vinyl windows in our current home and went with wooden Marvin Ultimate Double hung windows. The vinyl looked horrible, especially from outside.

You are lucky that you have an architect and contractor that are sympathetic. I'd just encourage you to consider each window separately AND get the input of someone who does actually work in window restoration.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 6:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Patser - thank you for that advice. I think when we close, and my contractor comes out I'll ask him to do exactly what you mention - look at each window individually and see which of them can be saved (repaired) and which must be replaced. Thankfully - it will be warm by then (early May) and I'm not moving in until the end of June to allow time for them to do some work (the kitchen is being gutted, and the shower can't be used at all as is in addition to the window situation and some other items which need attention before moving in). This way, he'll have time to really inspect everything and make the right decision and perhaps, save me some money in the end.

I'm sure he was trying to save me money, knowing my budget is tight but the more I think about things, the more I've been realizing that keeping the windows wood IS the right thing to do. I tried calling him yesterday - way before I posted this thread, to discuss this with him but he was out at meetings, which is why I wound up seeking some advice here in the meantime. I know, the community here always seems to steer people to the best answers :)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 6:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For something as expensive and irreversible as windows, I'm glad you are waiting. I think you'll be happy you did.

Now, back to those doors....what's going on with them?

Any chance you can post a picture of your new/old house?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 5:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can post a picture! I'm heading out for the day, but once I'm back I'll try and figure it out :)

The doors need replacement too. Sadly, the last owner put an ugly door on the front of the house, with a fake "stained glass" storm door. Ugh, awful. I don't even want a storm door. I'm looking at Jeld-Wyn's line of Arts and Crafts doors - in wood.

Also, I am adding a sliding glass door to the kitchen, as there is no access to the back yard area at all. It's a corner lot, and there are 2 doors to each side of the house, but no convenient way to get into the Kitchen from the detached garage. That part of the Kitchen, used to be the back porch - previous Owners enclosed it ages ago (good for me as it added much needed square footage to the Kitchen).

Those two doors on the side of the house? One leads to a portico (Possibly once a car port?) and the door is French door, paned glass. We need to find something more appropriate and more secure but good looking since it can be seen from the living room.

We think this door was actually one of the doors from upstairs which lead to the balcony shared by two of the bedrooms (they closed off one entrance, which we are going to open up again). It needs repair; which we'll be doing. So does it match, in the other bedroom.

The other side door leading to the basement and Kitchen, is a mangled mess - and; get this - is basically a door for "inside" the house! Apparently easy to break into, the lock is just a basic bathroom/bedroom type of lock. Unbelievable. We just need a decent serviceable, safe door there.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 8:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I bought a Craftsman with similar issues. Some of the windows I am planning on restoring myself, but the south side windows were shot. I went with Marvin wood/aluminum clad and love them. Here are some photos of the before and afters. The first is the removed windows- unfortunately the photos don't show the holes in the wood! Imagine the drafts I felt. The new windows look great, fit in well with the house's age and style and I love how they operate. No more drafts! They were expensive - over $800 each for the double hungs, but I think they were worth it.




    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 4:25PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Dual pane window retrofit, for sound blocking, question on thickness.
Been looking at options on vinyl windows with better...
Marvin Ultimate double hung or casement
I am replacing some rotting windows and am installing...
Modern Windows
Can anyone suggest an affordable modern window? Thanks!...
Kitchen Sliding Patio Door
Hi everyone! My slider is junky and the frame around...
Are Hurd Windows OK?
I've heard before of Marvin and Anderson windows, but...
Sponsored Products
Linon Vega 30 in. Bar Stool - Myrtle Panda - 14054BLKTW01U
$117.99 | Hayneedle
Solar Ground/Deck Lights
$99.00 | FRONTGATE
Hampton Bay Cushions Posada Pair Patio Dining Chair Replacement Cushions Gray
$79.00 | Home Depot
KidsFit Junior Total Body Kidz Cycle - 665
Bath Authority DreamLine Unidoor Frameless Hinged Shower Door with Stationary Pa
Modern Bathroom
Dyson Vacuum Grooming Brush
$69.99 | FRONTGATE
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™