Consider Restoring Your Wood Windows

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Subject: 51 year old wooden windows

We bought a ranch and it was built in 1964, the wooden Windows look good inside the house but it's what happening to them on the other side, the wood or what ever it is holding the panes in is literally crumbling and some panes are ready to fall out. The Windows have storm windows and screens, the screens are unlike any I've ever seen, the material is thick and turning white from weather, you can't see through these screens outside looking in, weird. 4 of the storms are broken and 1 missing. In the winter they are so cold and drafty. Any suggestions, the wood on the inside has been sanded and new stain, done about six years ago. But the previous owner did nothing to fix the other side. Each window has 12 panes, 6 on top 6 on bottom. Thanks.



You might contact Shaw Stewart Lumber in Minneapolis for a referral



Pella is one of several quality manufacturers that have the capability. No doubt they have recognized a performance improvement.



There are various considerations in working with historic buildings and window improvement.
1. Architectural accuracy
2. Energy improvement of the opening
3. Low maintenance exteriors
4. Budget

Each of the above can accomplish part of or all of the owners requirements. A professional can suggest the best way to accomplish the task after a consultation.

Every community can adopt or establish various guidelines to be followed. Therefore contact with the local historic preservation board is advised.

Ralph Ludwig


Wood, fiberglass, vinyl windows are three of the most poplar technologies. You should decide the of the follow priorties Performance, versatility and budget. That will assist a professional to find the best fit for your.

Don McBride


A year or so ago Preservation magazine had an article demonstrating how restoring the original windows in brick buildings under renovation (near Harvard or Yale?) was better than replacing them with modern, historic replicas. The refurbished buildings were then certifiable to the latest "green" benchmarks.

Toni bader


Any ideas of who to contact in Indianapolis??? The last guy we hired said he was an expert and we let him go when it took months for him to admit that he didn't know what he was doing.



My friend that replaced his windows in his historic home with new wood windows got Pella Architect Series. So far he loves them and has noticed an improvement in his power bills



ran into the same issues; try Kolbe and Kolbe (VERY expensive) or look at a regional window/door mfg; in Pgh, PA - we love Allied Millwork



I have been trying to find some who does this in Minneapolis and not sure how to search.



We own a 40 year old house with french wood window. Any recommendation in Huntington Beach, Orange County, Ca are?



My mother put temporary sheets of shaded plastic over the panes for the summer, too -like sunglasses for the windows!



A friend of mine just replaced the wood windows in his historic home with new wood windows. They are just as energy efficient as vinyl and are paintable and stainable to match his home's style. He looked at storm windows, but didn't like the idea of having to open two windows in the case of a fire and he also was told they can hurt your energy savings in the summer months because the space between the two windows starts to work like a greenhouse.



How can I find someone to perform this kind of restoration in San Louis Obispo, CA?



Thank you Angie's list. My fiance and I just bought our first home and it's almost 100 years old. It still has all the original wood windows and they're in great shape. A window sill probably needs to be replaced or repaired, all the paint needs to be stripped and some pulleys need replacing. Being new at the home-owning game we thought in order to get more efficient windows we'd have to get rid of our beautiful wood windows and replace them with vinyl. Refinishing all of the windows and making them more energy efficient is one our summer goals.



Vinyl windows cheapen any house, but especially historic homes. I'd like to see more about restoring windows.

Sven Johnson


To say that a storm window and a wooden window will acheive similar energy ratings is not entirely accurate. This combination doesn't offer Low-E glass with argon or krypton gas between the panes. Any reputable vinyl replacement window company will only offer a minimum of Low-E and argon with their windows. Rite Window offers vinyl replacement windows which are Green Seal Certified, carry a 50-year warranty and are made to exact opening sizes needed to replace the old windows.

Lonnie Sullivan

Subject: to replace or restore original wood windows...

If your wood windows are still solid, restore them. Don't let the new clad wood window sway you; it is an inferior wood that will fail fast if your cladding ever traps moisture. Pre-WWII windows are usually made with tight-grain, old growth lumber. That wood will outlive everyone reading this with basic maintenance; it is highly resistant to rot & much more dimensionally stable than wood found in products made today. Don't let the argon gas argument sway you to trash your original windows; it gives a very small r-value gain. Low-E does help a lot, but you can get storm windows with low-e coating to coincide with your original windows. Even if a sash has rot, they are made in such a manner that any single piece of the sash can be removed & replaced when damaged. New pulleys can easily be found online, and retying weights is very simple. We throw too much of our heritage away & replace things that would last many lifetimes just to have something new & shiny that wont last more than 20-30yrs.



Thank you Angie's List - great to see a national resource communicating options other than vinyl replacements (which are bad for the environment and fail within 10-20 years anyways)

Paul Christen


Do you have a recommendation for this type of work in the St. Paul MN area. Thank you.



Beware the warranties on vinyl windows. That 50 year warranty is worth nothing if the company fails. Besides, original wood windows last 100 years or more and can be repaired. If a vinyl window fails, you have to throw it out and get a new one. Wasteful!

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.