If you own a historic home here in the Seattle area, you want to keep your original window frames for as long as possible to preserve your home’s warm aesthetic and potential resale value. But when the old ones become too weather damaged and drafty, you have no choice but to invest in a set of replacements.
Finding the right match is no easy task, though. It requires a bit of research beginning with a careful assessment of the windows being replaced. Homeowners get about 73 percent of their replacement window investment back when they resell their house, according to Time magazine, but choosing the wrong set can actually detract from the value of your home. “Like mantelpieces and built-in cabinets, original wood windows are important architectural features,” Realtor Bill Golden tells Time. “Replace them with a downscale product, and you downscale the house.”
The Old House Web site suggests that potential buyers develop a keen understanding of how the old frames reflect the period, style and regional characteristics of their home. It’s important to study how they contribute to the appearance of the building considering the pattern of the openings and their size; proportions of the frame and sash; configuration of window panes; muntin profiles; type of wood; paint color; characteristics of the glass. Armed with that awareness, you’ll have an easier time finding ideal frames.
Wood is the most desirable frame material since it generally fits the look of vintage homes better than vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass. The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services department, which specializes in restoring historic buildings, follows these standards when it comes to replacing the glass in the frame:
○ Insulated glass is generally acceptable for new windows as long as it does not compromise other important aspects of the match.
○ The clarity and reflectivity of standard clear window glass are significant characteristics of most windows. Because these characteristics are often diminished for old glass, new glass equivalent to the original should be the basis for evaluating the glazing proposed for new windows. Color should only be a noticeable characteristic of the new glass where it was historically, and any coating added must not perceptibly increase the reflectivity of the glass.
○ Where the glazing is predominantly obscure glass, it may be replaced with clear glass, but some evidence of the historic glazing must be retained, either in parts of windows or in selected window units.
The professionals at Goldfinch Brothers in Everett, WA. have been helping homeowners for 125 years. If you have a historic home, send us a note using our convenient online form on this page and tell us about your future project. We’re here to help!