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Window Repair and Renovation

Know the facts before you are tempted to replace your irreplaceable wood and steel windows.

Windows are one of the most prominent character-defining features of vintage houses; they are unique and specific to each architectural style and period. Buyers interested in older properties will pay a premium for a home that has its period details intact.

Original wood and steel windows, with proper maintenance, are designed to last as long as the house does and rarely if ever need to be replaced.

Many window companies falsely argue that replacing original windows with vinyl and other cheap, less durable materials results in significant energy efficiency gains and reduced energy costs. But windows are only a fraction of the house’s exterior envelope; 80 percent of a building’s energy loss occurs through roofs, floors, walls, and chimneys. Simply adding insulation contributes more to a house’s energy efficiency than new windows do.

There are substantial environmental costs to destroying perfectly good windows and manufacturing new ones from artificial materials. And old windows can be easily retrofitted to improve their energy efficiency and at far less cost than wholesale replacement.

Also, vinyl and aluminum windows are impossible to maintain. They cannot be painted or treated; once they begin to degrade the entire window must be changed. Vinyl in particular is subject to warping, cracking, and fading.

Cheap-looking window replacements are no bargain!

Learn more about the benefits of saving original windows by visiting the National Trust for Historic Preservation's website. 

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