Advice needed on 60 year old windows

sjh53October 1, 2010

Our ranch house was built in the early 1950s, and has its original double hung, divided light windows, most 6/6, with a few 8/8. We added storm windows in the 1980s when we bought the house. Cleaning them is a major production; the windows look great for a few months but then are less than clean for the remainder of the year until I haul out the ladders and do it all again. I am so tempted to replace the windows for two reasons - the ease of cleaning with tilt in sashes, and taking advantage of the tax credit.

However, I really dislike the look of the fake muntins that are inside the glass, and would go with just a solid pane of glass in each of the sashes. Would that be a mistake, to sacrifice authenticity for ease of cleaning?? Would the look of the replacement windows compliment or detract from our ranch house? Are storm windows made better these days? Perhaps I should just replace those, but then I still have the same cleaning issues. I know that when I look out through my (now dirty) dining room windows, I really like the way some of the individual panes are rippled.

Anyone been there?

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You can get simulated divided lite (SDL) grilles instead. These have the grills on inside and out, and a spacer bar inside the glass to add to the depth. Nothing matches the original, real window for divided lite, but I think these look very good. We decided to go this route for our house (a 1928 cape cod where the original windows could not be recovered). Also, for more money, companies like Marvin (I believe) offer real divided lite, double pane windows...

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 2:49PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Grids between glass - cheapest, most efficient (theoretically), easiest to clean, least authentic looking from inside 10'

Simulated Divided Lite - more costly, harder to clean, more authentic looking.

True Divided Lite - much....much...much more costly, far and away the least efficiency, harder to clean, totally authentic

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 4:54PM
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I've decided I'm okay with no grids, since these windows are on the back side of the house and do overlook a lovely view... but now my concern is the best kind of replacement windows.

We have had two estimates, both for vinyl replacement windows, but after reading (and reading) posts here, I am rethinking using vinyl windows. We will probably live in this house for another 25+ years, and it from what I've read, vinyl may not last that long. Perhaps even more important (to me, not so much DH) are the aesthetics of vinyl versus wood. But I am also a realist when it comes to budgets...

I am leaning toward Marvin clad wood windows, but have yet to go out and actually see any. Today is a teacher furlough day for me, so I plan to head out window shopping for windows! Any advice as to any windows I should consider is greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:06AM
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There is nothing wrong with a quality high end e vinyl replacement window. Skydawggy or Windowsonwashington will be able to steer you to the better models. As far as ripout and replace Marvin is a fine choice

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:21AM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

+1 on millworkman's comments.

Nothing at all wrong with a premium vinyl window as it will happily live as long as you need it to.

If window budget is flexible, you can't go wrong with Marvin Ultimates. Beautiful window but comes at a pretty price as well.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 12:52AM
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I had the same problem, six over six, difficult to clean, and an older home. The problem is that the old windows were in good shape, nice and heavy, but they all needed re-glazing and painting. With great reluctance we decided to look at replacement windows. I wanted something that looked similar to the old wood ones but didn't like the look of vinyl.

By chance we stopped by a Marvin dealer and happened upon their Infinity fiberglass windows. They were heavy, solid and were the closest in appearance to a wood window. We got the ones with the stiles sandwiched in between the panes of glass and I must say they look very nice.

We've had them for five years now and I'm quite pleased with them.

Since you are already considering Marvin, they're certainly worth a look. Also the company is quite reputable as well.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:04PM
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Ah Loomis, those Marvin Infinity windows sound like they would be perfect, but unfortunately, the price is somewhat prohibitive for right now. Maybe I just need to save a little longer, or just do a few at a time.

Windowsonwashington and millworkman, thanks for the input that good vinyl windows would be fine; they are certainly more affordable, and since this is the back of the house, I think that may be the way I go. From what I have read here, I'm looking at the Simonton vinyl windows and getting estimates.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 7:10PM
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Millworkman and Windowsonwashington, I took your advice and went with vinyl windows. I had eight Simonton windows installed by a small, local, highly recommended company, and have been absolutely thrilled with the look, performance and ease of cleaning! I don't miss my old original 6/6 with storms at all, and am diligently saving to replace the remaining windows this spring. Never having to climb a ladder again is priceless, not to mention a whole lot safer for Baby Boomer DH and myself. I used to clean the old windows once every year or two due to the hassle; I've cleaned my new ones twice already since November.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


I am glad you are happy with the purchase and they are serving your well.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 4:37PM
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"The link that you posted, which I suspect to be self-serving, is fraught with misinformation and misleading statements. I am sure the NFRC would be interested to know that they are "wildly" inaccurate testing."

Really? Misinformation and misleading statements? Identify just one, please.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


You are again fighting with the wrong guy here. Read the earlier portions of my post where I clearly state that we use insulated storm windows in many of our historic projects.

The issue I take with this is the same issue that has been more than hashed out in the other thread between you, Oberon, and me.

In terms of the misinformation, I would say that the idea that the NFRC test is wildly inaccurate is misleading for a start.

The convection argument has been beat to death and while the idea that convection can certainly speed up energy loss, conduction and radiation (by the laws of energy transfer) are the dominant pathways of loss through a window or wall. Convection will speed the process but is not the pathway by which energy moved from inside to out. You largely made my point for me when I asked you about the energy flow pathways in a solid wall design. Re-read your old post.

***My Question:

When I was referring to a solid wall, I was speaking to the idea of single sheet of wood that provided both the air barrier and structure (i.e. a 3" solid plywood sheet or similar). Another example could be an aerogel wall system or window with no airspace separating the two layers.

In that application, there is no interstitial wall space or convection inside the wall/window system. What is the dominant pathway of loss in that application....conduction and radiation. These are not really points of debate but part of the laws of energy transfer.

Regardless of the reduction of convective movement, the energy transfer through a given solid substrate is conduction and radiation on the other side. How fast that energy can be picked up and moved away is assisted by convection.

***Your quote:


In the situation you posit conduction and minorly, radiation would be the only heat transference methods through the wall.

The idea that the "average" thermal window is a R-2.2 is also false and outdated.

A sealed airspace is better than an unsealed storm window to single pane window air space at insulating.

The idea that a single pane wood window with storm is as good as an insulated window is incorrect.

The assertion that the gas all leaks out of an IGU after 10 years is also incorrect for a majority of the quality manufacturers.

Talking about vinyl degrading the presence of UV light is also a bit misleading seeing as none of the commercially produced windows do not already account for this with the inclusion of UV inhibitors in their vinyl. I could say that Sodium and Chlorine are both very injurious materials and could cause certain death if ingested, however, they are pretty stable when combined together. Quoting that vinyl breaks down and some old examples of studies is misleading to say the least.

Plenty of commercial projects now specify vinyl.

Quoting the balance systems as a slight against a window...come on. That is reaching a bit. Most of these systems have been cycle tested in the thousands are very easily serviceable and covered by warranty.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 8:31PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Why did we bring up a 5 month old post when the consumer actually opted for replacement in the end?

There is quite a bit of "so-called" authoritative data that is thrown out there for consumption as to what the average window replacement costs.

Can you comment about what the average window restoration costs?

Figure on a new storm window, new weatherstripping, new weight cords and pulleys, repairing some wood rot, and re-glazing the window (pulling off the stops and pulling the sashes to do this work).

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 8:38PM
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