Forget the lux McMansions favored by Hollywood celebrities these days. The largest, most opulent homes in the US are actually historic homes.
Some of these stunning properties are still privately owned, some are public and some are academic campuses.
There is nothing like the charm and grace of historic homes. Yet, the maintenance can be difficult. Especially when it comes to windows.
However, it’s a myth that historic windows are terrible in terms of energy efficiency. In fact, a study by the Window Preservation Standards Collaborative showed that historic windows can exceed energy code requirements.
If you have a vintage property, read on. We will discuss whether you should repair or replace your historic windows.
Benefits of Preserving Historic Windows
If you are lucky enough to have a property with historic windows, then you should do everything in your power to preserve them.
Not only do they enhance the architecture of the building, but they also come with a host of other benefits as well. Here are a few of them to consider.
First of all, older wood windows from before 1940 are likely made from old-growth trees. This type of wood is easy to paint or stain and is naturally resistant to insects and rot.
Plus, the wood is likely to have been sourced locally. That means that your windows are better adapted to your local weather patterns.
Historic Windows Are Greener
When you invest in window repair instead of replacement, you are helping the environment.
Repairs mean you avoid sending your current windows to the landfill. You also save the energy and resources used to make new windows.
Even if your repairs require the use of additional materials, its often fewer materials. So this method impacts the planet less.
The windows on historic structures often have custom windows. The window openings might be in shapes and sizes that are not standard nowadays.
That means replacing the window will involve changing the size or shape of your opening.
Even doing that doesn’t guarantee a perfect fit. You might have gaps around the windows that let in the draft. Or you might get less light and trim that doesn’t match the opening.
Windows lose 10-15% of the treated air from inside the house. This is true for new construction windows as well as antique ones.
Yet, there are many things you can do to make your historic windows as energy-efficient (or more) than a replacement window.
Weatherizing and adding storms will increase the energy efficiency of historic windows.
Also, most windows that predate 1900 are double-hung units. This style of window has a sash system that allows the top and bottom sash to be raised and lowered six inches.
This allows hot air to escape and cool breeze to come in.
Historic Windows Have Storms
A storm window is a great way to improve energy efficiency. Storm shutters protect the windows as well as save energy.
On the other hand, modern windows are rarely fitted with storm windows.
Long ago, storm windows were made of wood. Today, many historic properties have metal storm windows.
Best of all, you don’t need to pull out a ladder and switch out the storms. New storms are often self-storing.
Historic Windows Are Simple
One of the biggest benefits of keeping your historic windows is their inherent simplicity.
These are made up of three things: wood, glass, and putty. You know that glass never wears out. With the exception of a baseball throw it, your historic glass is timeless.
Also, by being made from old-growth wood that resists decay and damage, these windows can last indefinitely.
Modern windows such as double-paned glass are different. They have a finite lifespan. Usually, they last between 10 and 20 years.
At the end of their lifespan, the seal on these windows fail. Soon the windows start to fog and become less effective.
Now you have a clear idea of why restoration is beneficial. Next, let’s discuss the reasons why a window replacement might be the right choice.
When Historic Window Replacement Is Necessary
Repairing historic windows is not a DIY project for beginners. You will want to hire an experienced window restoration expert to do any repairs on antique windows.
Even though the windows themselves are simple, the care and techniques required to restore them are significant.
It is possible that there is no qualified historic window expert in your area. If that is the case, replacement might be your only option.
Another consideration is cost. Sometimes, repairing a historic window will cost more than replacement. Especially if you have several windows to consider.
If budget is a concern, commercial building window replacement may be more economical.
Finally, there is a third reason you might consider replacement over repair.
If a window restoration expert suggests replacement, take their advice. Various factors including neglect and improper improvements made by previous owners, can impact your windows restoration project. In these situations, seek out the best modern replacement options that will keep the home’s character.
Historic Window Repair Is an Investment
Thanks for reading. We hope this article on historic window repair has given you some food for thought.
Remember, when you restore your historic windows, you are investing in the charm, character, and the eco-friendliness of your property.
Before you go, check out our other home improvement and garden articles. We’re sure you will find something informative and interesting.