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Replacing Glass in Historic Windows – Is It Worth It?

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Old windows are more common than you might think, especially if you’re not in a newly built home, but there’s no need to stress because has everything you need in one spot. Before you start to consider whether or not you should replace your glass, decipher what type of glass and frame you have. You may have historic windows and glass versus a more modern style of window and glass. Knowing the difference can be helpful before you make your final decision on how experts can best assist you.

First Stop – Window Frame Materials

Window glass experts may make reference to materials like metal, fiberglass and vinyl. Modern double or triple paned frames made from these materials can help to make your home more energy efficient … but it comes at a cost, involving time.

Compared to traditional and historic wood-framed windows and glass, some cases show newer materials do not last as long when battling wear and tear. Many in the field will tell you energy efficient materials like metal and vinyl with newer glass typically last anywhere from 20 to 30 years. Yes, a couple of decade’s worth of use seems like a good option, but it’s important to remember the more traditional materials and glass were built to last for several generations. This can be seen through countless homes that are still intact from the 18th and 19th centuries.

historic small windows and shutters
Small windows and shutters

Proper care and maintenance, traditional or historic windows and its glass can last for years to come.

Rot is another factor that you should consider before making your decision. Older grown lumber used in historic homes are less prone to rotting over time when it’s directly compared to newer lumber, according to a few experts. So for these reasons, restoring your current historic windows could be the better option.

Window Design – Simple and Sustainable

Window design is just as important as the materials you decide to use. Simple and straightforward window designs are more commonly seen in historic or older style homes. This was due to engineers at the time, using what had worked for so many cases before – there wasn’t a strong need to change what had been successful.

Colorful buildings and their windows
Colorful buildings and their windows

Newer window designs in more cases than not, have more options for the consumer to choose from. Options can range from having spring tensioners, or a small spring system located on the side of a window to help the window close slowly and prevent slams, to security sensors and the latest tech. The downfall – usually the more involved or advanced something is, the more likely it is to malfunction or break. The more a spring tensioner is used, the more common it is for them to wear out. Once this happens, opening and closing your window will get harder to do. This brings us back to the durability factor – is your choice going to be something you like that will last?

Let’s Go Eco!

Broken windows aren’t new, and for generations before our time, when windows were broken they got repaired. It was simple back then and there weren’t nearly as many options for repair or replacement as there are in today’s world.  Fortunately, there are several ways you can go green when thinking about either repairing or replacing. Your window professional can go over more energy efficient options for your home. There are also many programs that offer rebates for any eco-friendly improvements you make on your home.

The main benefit of eco-friendly glass windows is its impact on the Earth. Though these types of windows don’t lack in quality, they do limit the amount of energy used. Cutting down the amount of energy you use in your home often relates to the amount of money you can potentially save on your bills. Eco-friendly glass is made from a relatively environmentally harmless material made from sand. These windows also do not require any additional maintenance once your glazier installs them.

Existing Window Problems – Are there any?

Prior to starting on any repair or replacement, your window technician should inspect for any potential or existing issues your current windows might have. Conversely, if you have noticed any issues with leakage, cold air coming inside or fog, you should notify your window technician.

If you are experiencing fog from your windows there could be a few causes. Your glazier should check for any excess water being stored within the window’s frame. From there your professional may go over some of the additional benefits of replacing your existing glass. It’s common for newer windows and glass to have self-sufficient insulating glass units which combat fog from forming.

If you’re noticing any leaks coming from your home’s windows and glass, there is a high possibility the additional water is coming from the area around your window, instead of entering directly from the glass. To be certain, your professional can check. Most often, window leaks occur from improper gutter drainage. If the water is not being properly directed, some experts say it’s only a matter of time before the water is forced towards the windows. Too much water thrust upon windows will compromise the window’s effort to keep water on the outside. If your window expert notices excessive water leakage on a few of your windows, he or she might re-route your drainage in addition to repairing or replacing your older windows and glass.

Inside view looking through a window
Inside view looking through a window

Your professional should discuss any further issues or concerns they might see while evaluating your windows.

Keep in mind, you’ll lose some your home’s charm and pizazz if you do decide to remove your home’s original historic windows. There are many professional window restorers on that can keep the architectural integrity of your windows intact.

Continuing Window History

Windows and glass, like everything else, need to be taken care of in order to withstand years of wear and tear.  Here are a few things your professional may mention to you:

All three things previously listed can be done by the professional of your choice. While storm windows might not initially draw you in, they can help maintain the quality and longevity of your glass and windows. Your technician can install them from either the inside or on the outside.

Now that you’ve gained insight on the different options you have with your old windows and glass, you and your window expert can decipher which would be the best fit for you to complete your next project.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Emmariah Holcomb

Emm Holcomb serves as assistant editor to AGRR Magazine and has a background news, as she was a journalist for Time Warner Cable News. Emm received her Bachelor’s Degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York where she studied journalism and mass communication. In her free time, Emm loves to cook and is passionate about trying new recipes and using food to bring people together. When not in the kitchen, she can be found in the gym working out and fostering her love/hate relationship with weight training. Find out more about Emmariah on Linkedin.

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