Guide for Renovating Old or Installing New Windows

Written by Posted On Friday, 23 September 2016 11:26

If you are living in an older or a historic home, you probably have old windows that were made when there was no consciousness about energy-efficiency or technology needed to address these issues. Does that mean that you should be quick to replace your old windows and install new double or triple-glazed ones? Installing new windows can cost you more than you would save in energy bills if you opt for the Energy Star rated ones. Here are some things you should consider before making your decision and some tips on how to do it properly.

Restoring the Old Windows: Considerations

Before you decide whether you want to install new ones or restore your house’s original windows, inspect your old windows and see if there is any chance to save what you can. Look for signs of decay, rot and jammed sashes. If you see that the water has penetrated around the window frames and destroyed their historic appearance, you should definitely install new ones. However, if there are no major faults, you should try to find the ways to improve their efficiency and restore their appearance.

Making the Old Windows More Energy Efficient

The draft is your greatest enemy, and it can be the cause of major heat losses. The first thing you should do to prevent it is caulk and weather strip the windows. Caulking is a simple DIY task, and you can do it by using a caulking gun and applying caulk around the window trim. Weather stripping will clog air leaks around the sashes. Installing storm windows is a much cheaper way to energy-efficiency than completely replacing the old ones. You can also find discount blinds that suit your windows perfectly. 

Restoring Old Window Sashes

Windows and sashes define your home’s look, as they are important architectural details, especially on historic houses. It would be a shame to fully diminish your home’s identity by installing new sashes. If they’re not completely beyond repair, take them off (intact - if possible), remove the old glazing and paint, sand and prime the surface and add new glazing inside the frame. Repaint the sashes with the color of your choice, but first inspect for cracks. Keep an efficient portable drill press by your side, just in case there is a need of drilling new pilot holes.

Installing New Windows: Considerations

There are several reasons to install new windows: to eliminate window maintenance, to provide more light, to replace the completely ruined old windows or to get rid of the potentially hazardous single-pane windows in houses built prior to 1960, which may contain led residues. Also, if your windows are not more than 30 years old, there is not much point in preserving their historical or aesthetical identity.

Choose the Right Windows

If you are going to invest in new windows, it is better to choose them well, since they’re meant to last for decades. Some of the best materials for the window frame are wood, vinyl, aluminum, wood-clad, composite and fiberglass. As for the glass, the simplest and the most cost-efficient choice is to go with double-pane unit with low E-glass and a vacuum sealed argon fill. These windows will protect the inside of your house from UV rays and outdoor heat during the summer, and prevent the heat from escaping during the winter.

Installing the Replacement Windows

There are three types of replacement windows: insert replacements (fully assembled window and ready-to-install frame), sash kits (the old window frame stays, but some moveable parts are replaced) and full-frame units (a complete frame with all parts is inserted). Installing new windows will require removing the old ones, priming, drilling and caulking, so it is usually more time and cost efficient to hire professionals to do it for you.


Out with the old and in with the new is not always the best practice. Sometimes you have to consider your options, and analyze the current condition which will help you decide what to do next. 

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