Tom Shafer

Fit replacement windows to your remodeling plans

July 19, 2011

Remodeling a home and replacing or adding windows is not just a matter of finding a contractor, pricing windows and buying them. Care must be taken to also retain the architectural integrity of the home, while maintaining or improving its appearance. Windows must also be practical--energy-efficient and easy to use.

Recently, I helped a friend of mine and his wife design a remodel of their house. They decided to open some space in a wall that adjoins their 5-foot-wide porch to make room for a large window, allowing more light into the room.

The rest of the house had double-hung windows, in keeping with the Victorian architecture. They planned to replace their wood-frame windows with double-hung vinyl windows; but they really wanted a bay window with a seat board and cushions to look onto the porch.

Bay window

credit McGraw Hill Construction

Sadly, they realized a bay window with 3 1/2-foot projections would leave only 1 1/2 feet of space on the porch. Like it or not, a bay window was not going to work.

Finding a window design solution

If the bay window wasn't right, their next choice was a series of joined, casement windows. Unlike bay windows, casements were possible and could provide plenty of light. Unfortunately, casement windows do not fit with Victorian architecture. The interior decor and millwork around the windows was already designed around double-hung windows. Casement windows would have to be trimmed differently, and drapes would not cover half of the window, because casements have much larger openings compared to double-hung windows. In the end, my friends decided casement windows would require too many interior design changes to be worth the effort.

Finally, my friends decided to consider double-hung windows to maintain the home's design integrity. The problem was that, if they used a series of five windows to achieve the same width as the casements, they would have to use 13-inch windows, which would be too narrow to look aesthetically pleasing. However, three double hung windows in a row, mulled together, would be 21-inches wide. This series of windows would fit the existing architecture of the home, and still admit the same amount of light, as the casements. The couple went with three double-hung windows.

three double hung windows

credit Midwest Construction Photo Gallery

The series of new windows added the desired light. My friends fortunately were able to create space in other rooms for several pieces of furniture that were displaced by the new windows.

Moral of the story: when adding or replacing new windows, take design into consideration before committing to purchase and installation.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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