What is the best window replacement for my house?

Again, each house (and the person that lives in it) has a different answer. But the questions that should be asked are:

  1. Why replace?
  • The windows need surgery, see option “C”
  • Early Failure, see option “A” or “B”
  • Comfort or Energy Performance, see option “A” or “B”
  • Hate to Paint, see option “A” or “B”
  1. What are my priorities?
  • Vinyl or Fiberglass is best for coastal environments and require little maintenance.
  • Aluminum clad is durable but more expensive
  • Wood can be durable and are less expensive
  • Historic value and character of wood windows

Option “A” is replacing the sash only. This is good if the frame is still in good shape, and you are looking forward to stopping the breeze even when the window is closed. It has easy installation, an energy efficient upgrade, maintains the windows original glass area, there is no need to disturb the existing casings and is the least expensive option.

Option “B” is insert a frame into the sash. It has more dependable energy ratings than option A, is less expensive than option C and won’t disturb the existing casings, siding or wall coverings. However, it does reduce the glass area and have a bulkier look. For a do-it-yourselfer, it is the most expensive in materials alone, and the windows smaller opening might violate some fire code egress requirements.

Option “C” is replacing the entire window. This is what we are doing to the 1909 House. The interior and exterior finishes are being redone in most areas, so disturbing them does not make a difference. It is the most versatile because you can change the window’s size. It is the most energy efficient, and it is the most durable, because you can upgrade the entire system down to the flashing. This method is invasive and most difficult, but due to the siding and interior finish replacements of the 1909 House, the least expensive in labor. We will restore the original leaded windows in the 1909 House.

Excerpts from this answer taken from Fine Homebuilding, October/November 2004  Richard De Wolf, Arciform LLC


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