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Design

The Debate: To Keep Or Replace The Original Vintage Windows (And How To Make Old Windows As Safe And Eco-Friendly As Possible Without Replacing)

A big box was checked a while ago and it’s one that all of us were pretty darn invested in. After so much back and forth – YOU HAVE NO IDEA – we came to the solid conclusion on the windows of the farmhouse. One we feel so good about, and frankly so relieved because it’s secretly what we wanted the whole time. The biggest question? Whether to keep the original diamond pattern windows on the second floor, knowing that the first floor was going to be mainly new.

As a reminder, there were only 4 original diamond patterned windows downstairs (two in the living room, one in entry, and one in stairway) and the rest were aluminum from the 60s. One of the things we knew we wanted to do from the first second of seeing this house was open the living room to the backyard with large glass doors, which would mean those two windows in the living room would likely have to move, or if not they might look weird next to brand new doors. Those two were easy as we already had a place to repurpose them, but the upstairs windows were the biggest conundrum. It wasn’t an easy decision and here’s why:

  1. The original glass in the windows is old, certainly not double-paned or tempered and a few of them at this point are broken (yay). The ones that were still intact are so BEAUTIFUL and wavy and you find yourself sighing “they just don’t make them like that anymore”. It might be a subtle difference to many people but to us that wavy glass was everything. It’s an indicator of originality and one that I was VERY sad to lose (I fell in love with them after the plastic siding and false shutters were taken off the exterior of the house). But our fear of safety and draftiness was strong.
  2. We wanted strong, super sealed up windows. We kept saying, “we are paying for and installing this hyper eco/green HVAC system to try to seal up the house as much as possible just to have drafty old windows?” Trying to be green isn’t always an easy answer. Yes, they are single-paned but making something new to replace something old is also a drain on our planetary resources. More on this conundrum later.
  3. We explored taking the original windows and making them double-paned. Fun Fact – my sister and brother-in-law have a company in Portland that does this – Viridian, and get this, my FIL ALSO does this in Sacramento – Artisan Windows). It’s a patented tool that they both rent from the inventor as part of a franchise (only 12 of them in the US). They come on-site and window by window replace the original glass with UV rated double-paned, keeping the original sash, frame, and often even weighted pulley system. Ultimately because of the complicated divided lite patterns, we were told it didn’t make sense to do this. Essentially what they would have done is dissect the window, trying to keep the muntins that hold the glass (the wood that makes the diamond pattern), then insert a sheet of double-paned glass into the sash, then reapply (glue) the original muntins on the interior side, while likely custom-making the same pattern for the exterior to match. Ours are so thin that it would be hard to preserve them. Is it doable? Maybe. But due to the complicated pattern it was costing about $2k for each window (we had 10 windows upstairs) and honestly there was no guarantee that it would A. Work well or B. Look how we wanted it to look. With a less complicated pattern of course it could – they do it all the time, but both my BIL and my FIL said the same thing – it’s doable but very, very tricky. If you have one specialty window in your home, go for it, but to do this tricky and unpredictable window surgery to 10 windows felt very risky (everyone agreed).

Meanwhile, we had to make some decisions pretty quickly to get the window order in (6 weeks ago, before we moved). In case you don’t know windows (especially custom) have an extremely long lead time in normal times (12 – 24 weeks depending on the company), let alone in this building boom/labor shortage we are experiencing. And without windows, you can’t close up the walls and get to your finishes installed (tile, drywall, etc). So your windows can hold up the whole job.

We are SO HAPPY to be working with Sierra Pacific Windows on all our new windows for this house. I sought them out because they are based in Northern CA, with a massive reforestation program where they grow their own wood there and in WA. Another reason we wanted to work with them is because not only do they make beautiful classic windows (because they do), but they can customize ANYTHING, and yes recreate vintage-inspired divided lite patterns – like our diamonds. So far we have been extremely impressed with the options in finishes (wood and aluminum clad), the customer service (I’m talking to you Chelsey & Jennifer), and quality (we tested them out in person and were super impressed). So we knew who we were going to work with on the new windows, but we still hadn’t decided on what to do with the second-floor bedroom windows.

THE BIG DEBATE – Down To 2 Options

So the question became:

  1. Do we have Sierra Pacific recreate the original windows upstairs (make new) and essentially redo all the windows in the house (remember there are only 4 original windows downstairs)?
  2. Or keep the original windows upstairs and try to design the new windows on the first floor to work with the diamond pattern.

Now what we didn’t want was for it to look jarring – for the old to look too old and the new to look too new right next to each other as if was an accident – or like we couldn’t afford to redo all of them (even if that is 1/2 the truth). It needs to look intentional, cohesive with some quirk, sure.

We chose #2 – To repair and keep the original windows upstairs, and design and install new windows on the first floor while repurposing the original windows in the living room (I can’t wait to show you what we have planned for them).

How Will We Make These Old Windows Safe And More Insulated?

  1. We have chosen to NOT try to make them double-paned and instead to preserve and repair the original glass (see #1 above). We know that this will compromise our intent to seal up the house, but after seriously weighing all options we feel that this not only makes the most sense, but preserves more of the originality of the home that we love. And again, it’s all how you look at it when it comes to being green. Replacing something that works (albeit maybe it doesn’t work that well) isn’t better for the environment than working with what you have. Should you put in double or triple-paned glass windows now if you are replacing all of them or building them? Absolutely. But it’s my feelings (and the experts agreed with me) that throwing away to replace is not better for our planet.
  2. Regarding safety. We are going to rig them temporarily to be single-hung instead of double-hung while the kids are little so they come down from the top instead of up from the bottom (with a little peg stopper). Since the windows are low I just worried about them opening and well, falling out the second floor (this obviously wouldn’t be to code now).
  3. We’ll retrofit them to be operable without the weights so that we can insulate the weight chambers which is where the bulk of the draft comes through. We have quite the insulation plan proposed by our insulation sub that has more passion about insulation than I ever thought possible. I can’t imagine you are interested in a blog post about how we are insulated our house to be the most sealed up as possible (while sourcing as green material), but if you are let me know… I’m also happy to share our sub after our work is done (scheduling is a bit tricky these days).
  4. Maybe storm windows? We’ll assess the situation after our first winter and decide if we want interior or exterior storm windows (if it gets drafty or chilly enough). Knowing that that is always an option makes us feel even better about our decision.
  5. We’ll put a film on the original beautiful shaky but thin glass that insulates a tiny bit but more importantly for me, makes it not shatter or shard if it gets broken. If it gets bumped into its acts as a huge sticker that keeps all the broken glass in place, avoiding something terrifying or deadly (seriously if you have untempered glass as a sliding door consider getting it replaced – I have a horrifying story about a friends kid running into their single-paned glass sliding door from the 60s and it almost doing the worst you can imagine – barely avoided).
  6. Versatile (ARCIFORM‘s husband company) will source vintage glass to replace any that was broken. So we’ll have the waviness and vintage vibe (with the film on top). It’s hard to find large sheets of this obviously, but the upstairs windows aren’t huge (and the divided lites are small) so they don’t think it will be a problem. In fact, we are adding a new “vintage” window to one of the bedrooms to add balance to the exterior view and Versatile will be basically recreating the exact window with vintage glass. This is because I feel it would look weird to have a window with vintage glass and one with new glass in the same room.

So the big question becomes how to design the first floor new windows to work with the original diamond windows upstairs. And while you won’t see this from inside the house you sure will when outside looking back at it. And if you are thinking that we’d just do the diamond pattern downstairs, the answer is we’ve thought about it, but:

A. We like the idea of a simpler divided lite pattern and…

B. The custom diagonal pattern was $90 each divided lite – with each window having around 12. So that’s in addition to the normal cost of a high-quality window. This threw our budget totally off making most windows $5k or more.

And C. There is something less charming about all the diamond patterns in the new windows downstairs, almost competing too much with the second-floor original diamond pattern. We decided to let the original be the stars of the upper floor and simplify the first floor to be supporting characters.

We are however doing custom specialty divided lite patterns in a few places on the first floor that I can’t WAIT to show you. I of course want to bring you into that process, show you how we came up with the pattern to bridge the old with the new, but it’s another long post in and of itself. But for now…here’s a sneak peek at some of the “diamond motif” windows we’ve been considering:

Now I know that the windows have been a bit of a debate and while we have a lot of experts on this decision, but that doesn’t mean that we have all the solutions to insulating vintage windows without replacing them (which is the origin of the debate). I know in the past a few of you had some really unique new ideas that I’d love to hear as we still have time to make some adjustments (not to order new, but just to retroactively do anything to the old windows). xx

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Gwen
23 days ago

First vote for a post about the ins and outs of insulation 🙂

Christina
23 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Yes please!

DeniseGK
23 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Indeed. Not only is the subject generally fascinating to me (YMMV, I like the nuts and bolts of home construction), I *also* have awful no-good terrible very bad single-paned aluminum windows from the 60s that need to have something done to them so we can stop leaking warm/cool air like a sieve the year-round.

Lori
22 days ago
Reply to  DeniseGK

I have those shitty old aluminum windows too. I’ve found that the key is making sure they’re well caulked around the exterior, check that your glazing caulk around the glass panes isn’t leaking (easy to remove & reseal), and add weatherstripping to the bottoms of the sashes. I also got cellular shades and the air pockets help a ton with the temp fluctuations without blocking too much light.

Alexis
23 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

I second that insulation post! We moved into a very well insulated house that has a sun room that is really just a patio that was closed in about 10 years after the house was built. It has a small window unit a/c that we never need to turn on in summer because it it so well insulated. And I’m in south Louisiana! Also we barely hear thunderstorms when we are in the house. I am so thankful for the original owners that put such consideration in things you don’t see but make such an impact.

Heidi
23 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Yes please

Rusty
23 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Yes, please!👍

Rusty
22 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

Trolls!🤪

Beckie K-C
22 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

I am definitely in for a post on insulation. I have read that one of easiest ways for households to reduce their carbon footprints and bring down heating bill costs is through better insulation. Any advice on how to do this would be very welcome!

Courtney Koenig
22 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Yes I want to know all about it! It is a mystery subject to me. We live in Texas and the heat is what we are up against!

22 days ago
Reply to  Gwen

Agreed! ALWAYS eager to hear others’ research and findings on energy retrofits, plus insulation is fascinating, and increasingly relevant! I would also love to know the source for the wavy glass sticker/insulation. Really excited to hear how you like it once installed.

23 days ago

Very Innovative. Keep writing this kind of posts. Thanks a lot!!!

Amber
23 days ago

So glad you are keeping the windows!! And can’t wait to hear what you learn about insulating them.
I’ve been doing a ton of reading about restoring old windows for my own house. There are many sources that point out that old windows with storms are as efficient as new insulated ones and will likely last longer (which I’m sure you’ve seen), but there are so many options.
This guy’s website looks like it was built in the 1990s, but it includes a ton of reviews of different types of storms. He likes to say “maintenance free” windows means you can’t maintain them, which amuses me. https://www.oldhouseguy.com/windows/
I’m leaning toward doing interior storms like Indows on the front of my house (for aesthetics) and double track exterior storms with a low-E coating elsewhere (to protect the windows from the elements).
My house is in New England, so weather is more of a concern than it would be for you, but another downside to interior storms is that you can’t open the windows while they’re on. They’re pretty easy to remove though, and you can do it from inside (obviously), so no ladder required.

elizabeth erickson
23 days ago
Reply to  Amber

I have Indows in my 1780’s home with historic windows and can’t speak highly enough about them. They totally disappear and do a great job insulating. I even got the museum light filtering so it protects my art and fabrics. They are awesome and sooo affordable.

sara
23 days ago

Curious about this option–I’m planning on replacing failing triple track storms with double track because I want the option of opening the windows in the spring and fall when the Indows would be down and need screens. Do you you separate screens in the warmer months? Brand? Thanks!!

Meredith
22 days ago
Reply to  sara

Mine are older and installed before my time, so I don’t know the brand. But I think the main thing with a double track is that the top storm window stays put all year and just the bottom sash swaps, with the glass or screen moving on top of the upper storm depending on the season. I never seem to open the top sash anyway and so I haven’t minded it in the summer. I love the ease of it! Nothing to store, and very quick.

sara
23 days ago
Reply to  Amber

Seconding everything in this comment! I’m also in New England in a 1928 home with all original windows in the original part of the home. We have an Indow interior window storm in the single casement window that we have in our downstairs 1/2 bath and in need of replacement triple track exterior storms everywhere else. I will say that the difference in draftiness between having the storms down and not is intense, but NE weather is more extreme than Portland so you might get away without–but do consider it if you’re drafty.

The double track exterior storms are awesome if you don’t mind seeing screens in the winter. It’s a slimmer profile since there are only two tracks so looks better from the outside, but means the upper portion is always glass and the lower portion of your double hung window is always screen. It’s a worthwhile tradeoff to me, but if screens really bug you during “closed window season” then double track isn’t for you and more traditional triple track will be better.

eleni karas
22 days ago
Reply to  Amber

I was just coming here to also talk about indows! We have single-panes AND single sash bungalow windows that go down into the wall below in our Monrovia house and are looking at indows once we unstick and replace the weights on them.

Also wanted to direct your attention to restoration glass. We have wavy glass windows basically everywhere and have replaced a couple panes (one that I broke and one that was replaced before us) using light restoration glass. It’s handblown and matches the wavy look perfects. They also have a restoration safety glass
For the bottom panes. The other grade of restoration glass is better for pre-1900s homes and have more waves and handblown bubbles in them.

Meredith
22 days ago
Reply to  Amber

Count me on the exterior storm team! I have gorgeous old single pane, wavy glass, sash-weight double hungs in upstate New York, and the previous owner installed VERY effective double-track storms and screens. I adore her for it. I get my gorgeous old windows, but easy to swap and in winter they’re quite good. I also work at an architecture firm that recommends Indows, so I know we have happy clients with them, but my personal experience happens to be with the exterior stuff. For anyone wondering, they do the job.

Molly
23 days ago

talk to me about insulation, duh!

Vicki Williams
23 days ago

I’m wondering if you have considered using the single pane wavy (swoon) glass windows inside as a design feature? So cute. Maybe just hang it as art, or a window into a hall? or on a pantry door. Obviously just ideas no idea if any of those could work for you. But keep those windows! Worth hoarding!

Merry
23 days ago

Another vote for the post about insulation. Your posts are always so informative and a joy to read. Also I could read about your plans for the farmhouse all week!

Anna Charles
23 days ago
Reply to  Merry

Yes I totally agree with you please post about the farmhouse once a week

Megan
23 days ago

Yes to an insulation post. We live in a 1962 ranch and the whole house needs to be re-insulated. I would love to see a post on this!

Stephanie
23 days ago

Yes to an insulation post. I’ve been reading about how the vinyl window companies have been making a killing by telling us original windows are bad but really they are old growth wood and can last significantly longer than vinyl which you replace every 20 years. Check out Blake Hill House, the craftsman blog, and Hayes window restoration (all on Instagram) for more info on how to repair old windows and make them less drafty. I live in a 1904 Craftsman/Tudor in San Francisco so love all the old house stuff you are doing. Thank you for sharing!

23 days ago

Would it be possible to do the double glazing on just the bottom part of the original windows? Obviously the diamond section is too difficult, but the bottom pane is just sheet glass that could theoretically be double glazed…? It wouldnt insulate the whole window but it would do a big chunk of it. And the people suggesting internal storms are 100% right on – we have a big old house with big old drafty windows and the internal storms work phenomenally well in the winter and are easy to take out again in the spring 🙂

Rusty
23 days ago
Reply to  Danielle

Interesting idea for the glass! Thinking outside the box!

Emily
23 days ago

Hooray! I still mourn the original windows in our 1920s home that the previous owners replaced. I love the wavy glass in my neighbors windows and in the sidelights around my door. Totally agree that replacement with more eco friendly options isn’t always the overall most eco friendly move, and I would LOVE an insulation post! It’s my understanding that insulating your attic is a much bigger bang for your eco buck than some other typical moves, but I’m no expert.

Keith
23 days ago

Happy you found a solution that works for you and you’re able to use the windows, I was expecting these windows to be moved to a sun porch or less insulated part of the home.

Anna Charles
23 days ago

I have a 1917 Foursquare it’s original windows are still intact it’s the aluminum storms that are croded and need to be replaced.
You cannot buy new windows like old wooden ones anymore.
I’m glad you are keeping them it’s worth making other sacrifices to make old windows work

Kate
23 days ago

I have preserved the original (beautiful!) windows in my 1896 Victorian. We chose to add storm windows to the outside in order to improve energy efficiency while preserving the antique windows. Functionally, they’re okay. The windows open and close, some more easily than others. Some, despite having pulley repairs done, do not like to stay open on their own. But what you really need to consider is cleaning. It is an absolute NIGHTMARE trying to keep our windows clean. The restored windows have none of the functionality of modern windows that allow for easy cleaning and the addition of storm windows on the outside only complicated the issue. The storm windows are ever-so-slightly larger than the interior windows (because window wells are slanted for water drainage) and that makes removing screens for repairs or washing basically impossible. Nearly all of our screens are bent in some small way because of our efforts to keep the windows clean. In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend making the decision we did. Our windows get compliments all the time and I have to bite my tongue not to start listing all of the headaches they’ve given me.

Rusty
23 days ago
Reply to  Kate

That’s a conundrum, for sure,

Lane
21 days ago
Reply to  Kate

I lived in a Chicago rental with windows from 1912 with storm windows. I also lived with similar wooden windows in my parents’ 1955 house. They were drafty, difficult to open and clean, the rental’s had too much paint on them. I understand the appeal of restoring beautiful wood windows in a higher end house, but I’d prefer new wooden windows in a remodel. I woudn’t expect them to last another 100 years anyway and I wouldn’t need them to. I know they might add something nice to the farmhouse though, but I’m not one to fight for it, considering how expensive it can be to restore. My aunt recently replaced the old wooden windows in my grandparents’ 1940s home, with vinyl windows. It looks awful mostly because the actual glass is smaller now. The proportions are a bit off. But they are so much easier to use and don’t require placing an inner window for the winter. ( A huge 2 or 3 panel wooden frame with glass along with insulating material that my aunt can’t do on her own) Perhaps a higher cost new window would look better. But I can’t blame her wanting a bit more comfort… Read more »

Erin
23 days ago

Oh honey, this could be THE opportunity to add in those interior shutters you/we want so badly. So happy you chose to save the wavy windows in whatever capacity you could. Now, let’s talk insulation. Team mineral wool all the way!

Erin
23 days ago
Reply to  Erin

Also, I think that the clear vinyl protectant covering will help a bit with the insulation factor.

Kathryn
23 days ago

Yes, please re. a post on insulation! It would be great to have a simplified explanation of current best practices.

Roberta Davis
23 days ago

Sounds like you have analyzed the situation well and come to a sensible decision that will preserve a lot of charm! As I am getting my windows washed today, thought it is worth mentioning that window washers usually charge by the pane. Since most new windows have the muntins within the double panes, it’s not more expensive than having no muntins. But since yours will be outside the glass, it is likely going to be very very expensive to have your windows washed!

Rusty
23 days ago

Oh yaaaay!!! So happy you’re keeping the original windows upstairs. 😁😁😁 The house next to me originally had tiny (much smaller than yours) diamond windows throughout the house. The woman that owned this house, bought that house for her daughter to live in when she got married in 1960…and replaced ALL the windows with truly ugly aluminum windows!! The only remaining diamond window is a little tiny “breeze window” in the main bedroom. So. Sad. My house has all original windows with all shapes and sizes of leadlight glass. Much of it is textured and all the clear parts are super wobbly, so I know what you mean about “they don’t make glass like that anymore.” The dancing colours from the light catching the wobbles and bevelling are beautiful. I love the windows and put up with two that are a bit draughty. After they’re repainted (soon), I’m going to install some of that spongey foam tape stuff. I think it’ll make a significant difference. I love that you’re choosing for the downstairs windows to be “supporting characters”. Oooh, maybe the two downstairs windows will be in your downstairs bathroom? Or…installed into your greenhouse?? Emily, I’m sooo happy that you’re… Read more »

Margaret
23 days ago

I’d like to underline the PSA about glass doors from the 1960s.
I went into the local library right after an enraged patron had stormed out, slamming the exterior door. It shattered, and since it was not safety glass, large and sharp (duh) shards flew a good 30 feet. Had anyone been coming up the stairs at that point, they would have got a face full.
As it was, the lobby was empty, and the only damage was to staff nervous systems. They were all still shaking.

Kara
22 days ago
Reply to  Margaret

I was seriously injured by a single pane glass door when I was a child, I almost bled to death. I have a not-so-irrational fear of glass ever since!

CJ
23 days ago

This may be what you are considering for storm windows, but Indow is a company that makes interior side window inserts that press into place. They “seal” so they do a lot for energy efficiency by creating that insulating air pocket that double pane windows have, and also have the UV blocking treatment. I considered them for noise purposes when living in an apartment on a street with single-pane aluminum windows that allowed it to feel like the garbage truck was in my bedroom. They are a Portland company, and I suspect that a huge share of their customers are in your situation: Beautiful old windows, terrible for efficiency, sound, safety.

Kris
22 days ago
Reply to  CJ

We used Indows inserts in our former house, a 1955 ranch, and valued them for their efficiency and noise reduction. After we sold the house twelve months ago, the new owners opted to install 26 new windows, including one that is 14’ long. The Indows rep suggested making that one read as three with two vertical slats, a smart idea.

Lori
22 days ago
Reply to  CJ

Oooooooooh, I just realized I can get a big Indow with a UV coating for a big picture window I have that gets super hot in the summer but that I don’t want to cover up with shades or curtains. Whoohoo, nagging problem solved! Thanks for mentioning that UV coating!

Natalie
23 days ago

What are you doing with the aluminum windows that are not original but are still operable? After all “Replacing something that works (albeit maybe it doesn’t work that well) isn’t better for the environment than working with what you have.”

A
22 days ago
Reply to  Natalie

I’m sure they can be donated to a reuse store.

Meghan Graham
23 days ago

Have you looked into Indow Windows at all for upstairs? I have beautiful casement windows in my front room and was able to preserve them/insulate the room by adding Indows. Big fan of them and so much cheaper than most of the options above. Esp for upstairs/seasonal use, they could be a great solve.

Amy
23 days ago

I’ll just leave this here, obviously this site is going to be a bit skewed towards the greener side, but still great info! Also, we have local glass makers that can still obtain glass that is made to be “wavy” to blend in with older windows. The greenest building material is one that already exists!

https://www.treehugger.com/new-study-shows-restored-year-old-windows-are-effective-brand-new-replacements-4856655

Also please share about the insulation – I would be very curious to see the info you have on the best options!

Erin K
23 days ago

I’m obsessed with original windows, and I literally cheered when I read that you’re restoring them! The diamond pattern and wavy glass are so gorgeous.

Eve
23 days ago

With your window treatments you can look at “bumph interlining”. It’s a very thick flannelette/fleece type fabric that goes behind your curtains and really makes a huge difference in insulation (when the curtains are closed. It’s very thick and heavy so you do need to consider that when choosing pleats and rods etc but we noticed a massive difference.

Chris
23 days ago

I’d love to hear about how you’re retrofitting the sash weights. Just bought a 1925 house in Portland with wood windows and several cords are missing.
+1 on the insulation post as I’m looking to have that done as well.

Sara
22 days ago
Reply to  Chris

I am curious too. I am lucky that my 1920 foursquare’s original windows were painstakingly maintained by a prior owner who was a painter. My neighbor tells me he updated the rope and pulley with this chain system in the 70s. But I don’t know this is the most energy efficient solution today. But this is what it looks like

Annabelle
22 days ago
Reply to  Chris

Sounds like she isn’t, but there are a lot of instructions online about how to do this.

Julie
23 days ago

2nd vote for a post about insulation particularly trying to be green aspect….

Cici Haus
23 days ago

I replaced all the windows in my 1922 brick bungalow except the front two, which I kept and restored for historical integrity. They were drafty and mostly broken, so it make sense to replace with energy efficient ones, but keeping the ones facing the street was important to me!

Jesse
23 days ago

We live in a brand new home made of structurally insulated panels (SIPs) and new high efficiency windows. While the house retains heat and cooling excellently, it can be like living in a vacuum. Close one door and the one nearest to it gets sucked shut, too. I wouldn’t recommend having a house as sealed-up as ours. A little draftiness is OK.

Rusty
22 days ago
Reply to  Jesse

I lived in a very sealed up house once and we got a lot of condensation down the windows in winter!

Sara
22 days ago

This sounds like a fabulous, measured plan. I am excited to see the restored windows and the new ones you chose to integrate with them as I am about to build an addition where I have the conundrum of old windows and new on the same rear facade. And I too vote for a post about insulation.

Kate
22 days ago

For anyone with original windows in old houses, Indow is amazing – they are not expensive, they insulate your house from drafts, and they are custom fit for each out-of-square, quirky window in your house. No more condensation on my leaded glass windows in the winter that don’t have storm windows on them. I have a 1921 house here in Portland with the original single pane, divided windows and adding Indow inserts in the winter has been life changing.

I can’t recommend them enough! (And they’re based here in Portland).

https://indowwindows.com/solutions/insulating-drafty-windows/

Sadie
22 days ago

Yes to a post about insulation. Please add information about the importance of installing mechanical ventilation (HRV or ERV) in tight homes. Important part of the HVAC system in creating a healthy and comfortable home.

Alyssa
22 days ago

100% YES to insulation post! Please please! And I was so psyched to see this topic when I logged on today. I’ve been waiting for you to write more about window selection! I think the only other post is the Portland project where you went all new — was looking lately as I’ve got a window project in my home. We have two sets of two long & narrow fixed windows across from one another in our narrow living room; 1932 cottage-style in Madison, WI. They are beautiful, but I badly want the airflow they could create if they were operable. I’ve been wondering if/how they could be turned into awning windows. No clue if that’s possible, but would love advice or thoughts if anyone has ideas on turning original fixed windows into operable ones while retaining as much of the materials and character as possible. Googling on this topic has mostly turned up dry. Besides these fixeds and one double hung at the top of our stairs (too high up to open with any regularity — would require a very tall ladder) all the windows in our home have been replaced with shitty double-hung wood veneer vinyl. I’m trying… Read more »

Molly
22 days ago

Another vote for an insulation post – everything I read while trying to renovate our 1870 house has a bias because they’re also trying to sell their product. Also, do you have a neat attic? We do, and I want to show the architectural quirks without covering the rafters in insulation, but can’t figure out how to do it and keep our heating/cooling bills manageable. Would love to learn from you!

And the more I research about old houses, the more I hear about how houses need to “breathe” and not be so tightly sealed up all of the time.

I recently had an acquaintance tell me one the biggest mistakes she made was new windows on an old house – not for aesthetic purposes, but because she said they ended up having mold issues under the home because the house was sealed up so much more than it used to be.

Lisa
22 days ago

Do the windows upstairs meet egress code for fire safety? I worked with a client with similar windows in 2 bedrooms and we had to replace them…this is in the Seattle region…

Kj
22 days ago

Here’s a government website with links to basic weatherization information: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize

Rachel S
22 days ago

Another option for making the windows safter upstairs is security screens that look like flyscreens. I had one of these installed (not this brand – I’m Australian and looked for a US version) over the sliding door in my toddler’s upstairs bedroom which makes me feel comfortable when he’s playing in there by himself knowing he is safe from that door. I was surprised at how you basically can’t see it and it looks no different to fly screens (which we have on all our windows anyway). https://crimsafe.com/

Rusty
22 days ago
Reply to  Rachel S

Yesss! Crimsafe is fabulous!

Chef Ellen
22 days ago

I’m so glad you’re keeping the original windows! We also live in Portland and have a 1930s house that is about half original windows (which were painted shut) and half new. We love the wavy glass and some air exchange of the old windows so we had them re-done! We hired someone to remove the paint and install new rope so they are functional. We are so glad we kept them because they really add character to our home. Also, just a thought, my husband is a microbiologist and it is good do you have airflow in your home. Completely sealing up your house can lead to mold, more toxins (from carpets and furniture) and potentially a more unhealthy air quality if there is not a constant exchange of fresh air. Yes it’s a little colder in the winter and a little warmer in the summer but our houses are meant to breathe!

Andrea
22 days ago

https://indowwindows.com/ check it out! Portland company.

Leslie
22 days ago

Hi! Can you please share the link to the safety film? We absolutely should have done that in our 1906 house (had we known about it before moving) and I bet tons of other people could use it. Thank you!

Joe R
22 days ago

Would love the insulation post!!

Lori
22 days ago

Alex over at Old Town Home has a bunch of posts about making old windows weather tight and energy efficient– it’s worth checking them out. He uses a combo of storms and spring bronze weatherstripping. Jessica over at Park And Division uses Indows on her old windows and looooves them and I think she has a highlight showing how easy they are to put in and take out.

I’m glad you’re keeping the old windows!

Sydney
22 days ago

I have a home from the seventies, and just paid to have a green energy inspection, essentially a professional comes in and inspects, and approximates what kind of upgrades you should do to your house to improve energy efficiency. I have single pane windows and their responsible for about 80% of the heat loss in my home. Which is insane. Replacing the windows with newer materials is absolutely the greener option as opposed to spending every cold day heating the outside. Granted I am in Canada and where I’m at we have the occasional -40 Celsius day.

Casey
22 days ago

Could you work with a local artist to create stained glass window hangings from them? Either to use somewhere you want more privacy (bathroom or bedroom window), one of the out buildings, and gift the excess to the artist or friends and family.

A.B.
21 days ago

We were looking into Indows for our old, charming windows. Creates an extra single pane that you “pop” init the frame during colder months. I think I daw on Erin Kestenbaums blog originally.

Sara B.
21 days ago

I am very interested in a post about insulation (words I never thought I’d write), and your sub’s name when you’re ready—we have a 1925 house in Portland and insulation intimidates me!

stephanie
21 days ago

restore some of the diamond windows and have ‘indows’ made. they insert from the inside and you can use them seasonally when you need the benefit of installation

Sharyn
16 days ago

Oh how funny, we got a quote for your FIL a few years ago to rehab our windows in East Sac. Then everything turned to sh*t and we still haven’t done anything about them. Maybe one day!

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