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Restoring Old Storm Windows

Posted by pacific_flights (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 26, 11 at 18:19

Hi Everyone! I've never posted here, so I hope you don't mind my jumping in to ask a question.

I have a 1930 house with the original single pane double hung windows. I do not plan to replace the windows with vinyl, but they sure are chilly in Winter. Fortunately my house came with the original wood storm windows, which I am currently in the process of restoring (all of the glass was broken out).

I've weighed the pros and cons (at least those that I'm aware of) and have decided to use plexiglass rather than glass for the windows. I know that acrylic is more likely to scratch than glass, but it is also less likely to break. It is also much less heavy than glass. I need to be able to install these myself. I've completed one window so far and think it looks quite good.

Does anyone have any last minute advice for restoring storm windows? Do you think I'm nuts for using plexiglass?

Thanks! Jen


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

No, I don't think you're nuts. The lighter weight and ease of installation is a good argument. . It does scratch but since its so freakin DARK much of the time in winter and windows frosted I dont think anyone will notice the scratches.

If its old plexiglass it might turn yellow. I have some in a back door that I bought 10 years ago and its fine, not the least bit yellow.

The only down side might be - it's kind of expensive isn't it? Compared to glass I mean...?


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

post pictures! i'm curious about how you are mounting them. is the original hardware still in place around the windows?

plexiglass makes a lot of sense. it is a good material and the pros weigh pretty nicely against the cons.

make sure you leave the weep holes at the bottom for drainage, don't caulk that over.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Thanks for the responses! I should be able to take some pics this weekend.

The original hanging hardware is still in place. The windows hook at the top and are secured by two eye hooks on the windowsill, nice because they can be propped open from the inside to let in fresh air. I only have 6 out of 14 windows (my house is tiny). I did find another stack of wood frames in the garage but they appear to be for another house. Wonder how that happened? They are too long, so I'm thinking I may be able to modify them to fit my windows.

These storm windows look homemade, and I like to think about the person who made them, and how they would feel to know that I'm bringing them back to life. Just one of the cool things about owning an old house.

Re the price. Originally I had planned to use glass, and was quoted $35/window installed (actually not sure if it was per window or window pane) by a local glass company. I then switched to plexiglass and decided to cut and install myself. I had a large piece that I had bought a few years ago, and used a skil saw with a blade made for plexiglass (kind of a pain but definitely do-able). After completing the first window I decided to do a little more research and found a plastic company that would cut to size the plexiglass for about $20/piece, which was about the same price as the uncut pieces from HD. Before placing my order I decided to have one last look online and found that Lowes sold 30" X 60" sheets in a package of 5 for $40. So I'm back to cutting myself, but for $40, which is enough to finish the rest of the windows I have, I think it's worth it. Oh, and btw, I think they have this priced wrong, and even told the customer service rep that $40 should be the price for 1 sheet, but they insisted that it was for 5, so we'll see, I'm still waiting for my order to be delivered to the store.

Has anyone else restored old storm windows?


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

You can improve the performance of old wooden storms by adding weatherstripping to them to create a better seal to the window frame.

Resource Conservation (Baltimore, MD) is a good source of various seals.

You can choose one that is concealed after the windows are installed.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

The thing about plexi is that is will dull over time. Like plastic headlight lenses. So eventually it will look frosty/yellow. There are , however, polishing kits for this issue.
But glass stays clear forever. (except for the metal plating pollution and glass rot, but those take decades to show up, if they occur at all.)
Casey


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

You might consider asking at John Leeke's Historic HomeWorks Forum whether there are any problems with the putty or sealant sticking to plexiglass, or any other complications. Also, search in the forums for "plexiglass". The search button is at the top right.

Here is a link that might be useful: Historic HomeWorks - Windows & Doors


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Sombreuil, I agree that wearing over time is a definite con to using plexiglass. I forgot to mention another reason why I was a little afraid to use glass. Both my windows and storms are old (1930) and even after some adjustments to the storm windows, some of them still have to be forced and flexed a bit to get them into place, which I thought would be easier and safer to do with the plexiglass.

Brickeyee, thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out.

Inox, thanks, I'll check that out too!


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

"some of them still have to be forced and flexed a bit to get them into place,"

Sounds like it is time for some fitting and marking.

Many older wood storms are window specific if thy have been 'adjusted' to fit.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Well for what it's worth, here's the pic of my first installed storm window. Not very exciting, but I am happy to have at least one up :) Hopefully I'll get the rest of the plexiglass this week and finish the windows this weekend.

Photobucket


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Nice job! I've been researching making some new storms for my windows and getting rid of the ugly aluminum triple tracks. You've inspired me!

btw I've used plexiglass on my interior storms as a bridge to rehabbing the old windows (ie: saving the $$$ to rehab them!), and after a few years it looks as good as it did when I installed them.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Plastic will scratch from something as simple as using paper towels to clean them.

It is extremely soft. The dirt on the surface is hard enough to produce scratches.

You will notice them when looking out at night as a 'pattern' in the lights from outside.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Someone who provides customer service for high-end modern furniture once told me not to clean glass with paper towels, because they are made from wood fibers, which can contain tiny mineral inclusions that can scratch glass.

One of the threads in the Historic Homeworks forums suggests using polycarbonate in place of plexiglass, because it resists UV better.

If aluminum triple-tracks were offered with colored anodizing, they would be a better match for wooden windows.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

pacific_flights --

you are wrong about the pic not being interesting. it is VERY interesting AND exciting. seeing nice storms mounted with old style hardware is actually pretty rare and is a rare thrill for old house nerds.

are you happy with the plexiglass? how easy is the storm to take in and out? is it weatherstripped? what kind of seal do you get?


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Hey, thanks civ and ohg! I'm still waiting on my shipment of plexiglass to do the rest of the windows, but so far I'm very happy with the one I've completed. It's super easy to install and remove, I have it weather stripped and it seems to have a pretty good seal. I've noticed the last few days that I have condensation on the inside of the bedroom window with no storm, but the one with the storm installed is free of condensation. Hopefully no more sheets of ice on the inside of windows this winter! :)
I even found some original Acro numbered tacks to label them...


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Congratulations on your progress.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reproduction Acro Number Tacks


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

oooh, Pacific, those are absolutely gorgeous! Boy, those do look sharp. Definitely worth the effort -- and if the plastic really bombs in a year or two, you can always change it out for glass over time as the budget allows.

Any chance of a photo from the inside, where we can see the storm eye hooks? We're getting new wooden storms made by a local guy and glazing them ourselves, and will also be installing the hardware on our own. I'd love any tips. Thanks!


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Thanks Peanut!
I don't have an inside photo, but I'll try to remember to take one this weekend. Not sure I'm qualified to give out tips as I've only finished one window, but if anything comes up as I make my way through this project I'll be sure to pass it on.

Are you using glazing putty and glass in your storms? I spent hours replacing cracked and missing putty on my windows and learned that I'm just not that great with glazing putty. Another reason I chose to try the plexiglass/silicone option.

Good luck with your storm windows! If you've never done glazing before this link might help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Window Glazing


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Sorry to be responding so late. I just got power back for the house/cable/internet/computer (October East Coast Nor'easter).

I replaced all of my single pane storms, with double pane (insulated glass) panes. It took a bit of carpentry work, but was well worth the effort!

Dadgardens


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Thank you, I'd love a photo if/whenever you get around to it. We're not sure how long the hooks of the hook-and-eyes should be, and they come in a bunch of sizes.

I've just finished the long haul of un-replacing all of the vinyl replacements in my house with old salvaged wooden sash, so I'm fairly familiar with glazing and its sorrows, ugh. But it does get better as you get practice, and things like remembering to polish your knife between each use and using the right putty are a big help -- I've find Sarco-M much easier to tool than any others I've tried, have you had a chance to test out that brand? You have to order it online, but you can get it in a one-gallon pail or 5lb bags for smaller jobs.

Dad, what's the final effect, visually, of the insulated glass? Got any photos? Do you think it's helped make the windows more weathertight?


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

circuspeanuts --

wow, you are the first person i've ever heard that has replaced vinyls with old wooden windows. i mean, more people should do this, but it seems like it would be a ton of work -- did you have to get new window weights and pullys and everything? what a project!


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Yes, we did. It took a year of haunting CraigsList and the local junkyards/salvage places to collect all the supplies, then a few months of rehabbing the old sash we found. I just installed them a month ago, in the nick of time for a cold winter here in the Northeast.

I was lucky in that the replacement folks left the original frames intact; they just pulled out the sash, pulleys and weights, but the jamb still had the pulley cutout. Once I found the right sized pulleys it was just a matter of reinstalling everything, shaving the sash to fit, weatherstripping, etc. Ha. "Just" a matter of that.

But it's absolutely worth it. The new and weatherstripped old wooden sash, even without storms, are just as airtight as those cheap vinyls were. They were awful: poorly sealed, breaking and bowing, half of them wouldn't even open any more - of course, had they been a nicer high-cost version, perhaps we wouldn't have been motivated in the first place. But are vinyls ever nicer, high-cost versions... ? ;-)

If folks are seriously that interested in the project, I'm happy to post a few pictures.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Dad, you built your storm windows? That's impressive!
Peanut, I've never heard of anyone replacing vinyl with old wood windows either. That's amazing! How long did it take? Do you have any photos?


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

pacific flight,

I live in a one story, pre - 1800 house! My storm windows were single pane, standard for the mid 1900's. I upgraded them, using carpentry and"common sense". Insulated glass, double panes, went in to existing frames.

I modified the panes, plywood overlay; when needed! The conversion cost less than new windows. Oops!

I did build insulated storm,s for some windows. No photos, tech lag (darn - cell phones)

Dadgardens


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

ciruspeanut, I would love to see photos of your window restoration. I am in the process of searching salvage and CL for sashes to replace the aluminum slider the PO put in when the old windows leaked :(. It is inspiring to hear of others who are doing this laborious work to improve/maintain their old homes. I'm a bit of an oddball in my neighborhood, as every other old house owner is buying new vinyl windows. Just curious what type of weatherstripping you used on the 'new' old sashes? I just bought the Easy Stop system, but have yet to install it. It's a bit spendy, so only got enough for one window, so I'll see how that works.

Also, Pacific flight, if you have in progress photos of your frames, I am very interested in seeing how you did them. I will be starting this project some time this winter in my basement workshop, and would love to have some ideas to go on.

TIA!


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Oldhousegal, are you going to build your storm windows from scratch? I am using the original storms that came with the house. They just needed sanding, painting, and glazing. I cut plexiglass and used clear silicone to hold it in place. Would it help to have close up pics of the frames so that you can see how they are constructed?

I also have a bunch of storm window frames that are too large for my windows, so I'm going to try and cut them down to the size of the windows that do not have storms.

Hopefully I'll be able to take some pics this weekend...sorry, I've been out of town.


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RE: Restoring Old Storm Windows

Hey pacific flights, thanks for the response! Yes, I will be building them from scratch, since the old ones were tossed out long before I bought this place. :(

I'm trying to decide how to construct them and out of what material. I'll probably do wither a dado or rabbet joint as I'm a bit unsure of my skill level with mortise and tenoning on my table saw. I realize it's a hugh endeavor, so I'm still in the planning/dreaming phase, so yes, any photos that you have of the construction would be great!


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