Eight Tips for Replacing Windows and Doors to Period Authenticity

February 27, 2010

Whether your home is a Victorian in a village in upstate New York, a brownstone in Manhattan, or a condo in Redondo Beach, California, you will want to maintain the integrity of the overall look of your home by installing period-authentic replacement windows and doors. Just follow these eight tips.

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Replacement Windows and Doors

  1. If you live in a designated historic district, check with your town hall to learn about restrictions that might affect your replacement window and door options. Then be sure to follow any guidelines that apply to your property. Otherwise, follow tips two through eight below.
  2. Select window and door styles that most closely match the style of your home. Your current windows and doors may themselves be replacements, so do not base your selection on the style of your current windows, unless you know they are the originals.
  3. If you are uncertain about the style of your home and the replacement windows and doors that are most suitable for it, consult a local architect, visit your library or historical society, or conduct research online.
  4. Period-authentic replacement windows and doors are available with energy saving features such as gas filled double panes, and double glazing. When replacing windows and doors, look for the best energy efficiency you can afford. Although energy efficient replacement windows and doors represent a substantial initial investment, you can calculate the return based on your current utility bills, which tend to trend upward year-over-year. You can accelerate your return on investment if you purchase and install during 2010 windows and doors that are eligible for tax credits of up to $1,500. See the EPA ENERGY STAR website for complete information.
  5. Depending on style and size, you may find the replacement doors and windows you need at home improvement stores, window and door specialty stores, antique or consignment stores, salvage yards, or online. For truly difficult replacements, you may need to have windows or doors custom made.
  6. Once you find the proper style, remember to choose colors that are authentic to the era in which your house was constructed. In other words, find the palate that was in style at the time your home was built, and then choose one or more colors from it for your replacement window frames and doors. Picture in your mind's eye the teal blue of a '57 Chevy, or the avocado green of a 60's toaster, and you will understand immediately why period-authentic color is important.
  7. When it comes to trim and accessories, give careful thought to their congruity with your style. For example, if your home's original shutters were operable, your first choice would be to restore or replace them with other functioning shutters. If that is cost prohibitive, then you might replace with stationary shutters. The least authentic choice would be to remove the shutters altogether.
  8. Classics are classics because they are authentic representations of an era--whether that era is the eighteenth or twenty-first century, and congruity in style, color and detail adds up to period- authentic replacement windows and doors.

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