Tom Shafer

How to choose new windows for your historic home

December 30, 2015

If your home has a unique or traditional design, then replacement windows have the potential to negatively impact the look and appearance of the home. Here's how to upgrade your windows while maintaining the integrity of your home's design:

For double hung windows

The most popularly advertised are vinyl replacement windows. These are energy efficient, and the newest models should include the latest upgrades in glass energy-efficiency. They are rather inexpensive and are easy to maintain. If you currently have wood windows, then a wood grain foil wrap can be applied to the interior of the windows, but it is not actually wood and doesn't always look the part.

However, both Andersen and Pella offer a pocket replacement window. The installation process is almost identical to that of a vinyl window, but it's a true wood window replacing a wood window. Wood can be stained to match your home's trim, and if your current windows have unique hardware, that can be matched, too.

For picture windows

Picture windows, especially those with unique shapes like circles, half circles, and of course square windows can be duplicated. However, this may not be easy. Most picture or fixed glass units are glazed into the frame. If the frame is in good shape, has no rot, and does not need repaired, then it may be easier to replace the glass only. But if the special shape had external grids, simulated or true divided lites, this won't be possible. In that case, new windows are required. Invest the money to make sure your modern material is duplicating your traditional design.

For patio doors

Patio doors are always a good target for replacement. Over time, they can become hard to open, the glass may get fogged, or in hotter months you may find all the sunlight coming through really raises the temps inside. These doors need more than just new a sash or door panels. A complete tear out is usually required. It's a big job, but the good news here is that the appearance of your new door will be easy to match to your current style. Wood doors are available, and the glass can be upgraded to be super energy efficient. It's also a chance to get on board with a new trend: blinds installed between the panes of glass.

What you pay for windows like these depends on the extent of your requirements. But if you want to keep the home looking how it was designed to look, then expect to pay more. It's up to you if maintaining the integrity of the architecture is worth the price!

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