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Original Historic Glass: Preserve or Replace?

When you own an older home, you can enjoy the charm of yesteryear. Many homeowners enjoy the exquisite woodwork, unique windows, and beautiful open staircases. If you have original windows in your home, you probably love their unique craftsmanship and design, but you’re less fond of how old windows are draftier and require more maintenance and repairs.

So, how do you know if it’s better to say goodbye to drafty old windows, even though they are uniquely beautiful? Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of replacing historic windows and what options you have to preserve your homes natural character. 

Should You Restore Old Windows?

The short answer is yes.

Old windows follow a different design than modern ones. They are built with wooden frames, sashes, and sills. These windows were designed to be easily repaired by homeowners. Each part of the window is removable, and parts for the window used to be common at general stores. 

Times, of course, have changed. Windows are now installed as a single unit. However, you don’t have to be daunted by your lack of old window knowledge. You also don’t have to replace old, drafty windows because they have a poor energy efficiency. Instead you can:

  • Replace broken, foggy, or brittle glass. You can replace the glass in old windows. It’s as simple as removing the window from the sashes, removing old glazing (the putty that hold the window pane in place) and setting the new pane in.
  • Repair broken frames and sashes with new wood. Have the rotted or damaged wood replaced, or simply cut away wood in poor repair and fill the window with wood putty. You can also sand, strip, and repaint each window, and it will glide easier.
  • Add weatherstripping. Older windows have settled into themselves, so to speak. Many have sealed themselves shut over the years and don’t open at all. With the right care, however, you can (and should) weatherstrip your windows so you don’t have to live with windows that do not open.
  • Replace the weight systems so they open easily. Old windows opened and closed with cord and weight systems in each side of the window. Many times, sadly, the cords have been cut by previous owners who did not know that old windows are still valuable. 

Restoring windows is a big job, but it is less expensive than replacing all the windows in your home. Generally, the cost of entire window replacement would take more years to pay for itself than you have left in your house. So, if your original windows are in good shape, keep them.

It’s also a great option for those who want better energy efficiency in their windows without losing the original charm. Custom glass companies can provide replacement panes in the sizes you need. Old homes have quirky, interesting window shapes, and you can still enjoy them when you choose replacement glass instead of replacement windows. 

Restored old windows have a long lifespan. As stated above, each separate component of the window can be replaced. This means if something breaks in the future, you can easily get it repaired. Properly maintained, these windows will last as long as your house does. 

Replacing the glass and broken components in your historic windows is also an earth-friendly choice. When you do not throw away old wood windows to replace them with new ones that used valuable resources to manufacture, you are reducing your energy footprint. 

What About Stained Glass?

Stained glass windows are one of a kind, and unlike plain windows, can be costly to restore. Glass pieces can be exactly colored and cut to look like the originals, but it usually requires a professional and can be more costly.

If you have a stained glass window that is drafty, consider installing a Plexiglass insert over top of the glass inside the interior frame. You’ll still be able to see the stained glass, but it will be protected until you can hire someone to restore the window fully. 

When Are New Windows a Better Option?

Sometimes, sadly, old windows can’t be saved. Generally, this happens when there’s been years of neglect, resulting in dry rotted frames and termite damage. For most homeowners, repairing this extensive damage is just out of reach. 

New windows are also an excellent selling point for older homes, should you decide to sell. If you’re “flipping” homes that are in complete disrepair, whole-home replacement takes less time and look better on paper when selling. 

You can still find new windows that mimic the style of your old house. If you’re replacing only one window, you should choose a window that uses wooden frames and sashes so it can be painted like the rest of your windows during routine maintenance.

Edmonton Elite Glass offers quality custom glass solutions to the good people of Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Leduc, Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Ardrossan, Edmonton and surrounding areas.

Whether you need replacement windows, custom shower installations, or mirrors for your home or business, we will get the job done right.