If you've just bought a historic home whose old wood windows are in disrepair, you may be wondering whether to restore them or to replace them with new ones. Restoration allows you to keep the original window, but it can be expensive. It's also not possible in some circumstances when the window is severely damaged, and the old window will still have poor energy efficiency. In some cases, replacing them is the better option. If you're wondering what to do with your home's old windows, read on to learn when you should have them replaced rather than trying to have them repaired.
Your Old Windows Are Rotting
If your old wood windows have extensive rot throughout the frames, it's a better option to replace them rather than to repair them. Wood requires regular maintenance in order to protect it from moisture. If the paint peels off or the finish wears away, the wood underneath will be exposed to the elements.
Older homes usually have gone through many owners, and not all of them may have taken good care of the home's windows. If the window frames are rotting, you'll need to replace them as soon as possible. The rot can potentially spread into the wooden structure of the home, where it will cause more extensive damage. Repairing old wood windows is a lengthy process, and frames with extensive rot may be entirely unsalvageable regardless.
You're Trying to Increase Energy Efficiency in Your Home
When it comes to window frames, wood is very energy efficient. Wood is naturally an excellent insulator that resists temperature change. Unfortunately, the overall energy efficiency of old windows is hampered by the glass.
Newer energy-efficient windows use multiple panes of glass and low-emissivity coatings that help to prevent outside temperatures from affecting the temperature inside your home. None of these technologies existed when historic homes were built, so old windows only have a single pane of glass with no low-emissivity coating.
Additionally, old houses tend to settle over time, and this can pull window frames out of square. Gaps between the window frame and the wall will let outside air into your home, reducing your home's energy efficiency.
If you want to improve the energy efficiency of your home, you'll need to replace your wood windows with newer ones. Select triple-pane windows with a low-emissivity coating for maximum energy efficiency. Your new window frames will also be a better fit against the wall, which reduces the draft you'll experience inside the home.
Your Old Windows Require Expensive Repairs
If your old wood windows are in poor condition, repairing them will be an extensive process. Old paint will need to be stripped (and properly disposed of it was lead paint), they'll need to be sanded down, primed, repainted, and reglazed.
Repairs can be lengthy and expensive, and you'll have to cover the window with a sheet of plywood until repairs can be completed. Replacing your windows with new ones can sometimes be less expensive than having them repaired, and it can also be completed much more quickly.
When you're deciding what to do with your old wood windows, you should always consider replacement as an option. While restoring historic windows allows you to retain the original window, you'll often be able to find replacements that match the character of your historic home.
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