Replica windows are the answer for the homeowner who needs to replace their replacement windows or has an un-restorable original window.
You should know by now that the replacement windows you see advertised by Anderson, Pella, etc. are not as energy efficient as you are told and the design is far from how a window should look.
If you value the historic integrity of your old house and would like to be an educated consumer you must invest some time in reading this information about historic wood windows to understand why this is so important.
Heirloom Windows specializes in manufacturing replica windows and I personally recommend their windows.
Not only can they build a window that is practically identical to your originals, but they also offer an amazing new energy efficient historic window system.
Thanks to breakthroughs in glass and wood technology, Heirloom is now producing an all wood window with the thermal benefits of a contemporary window and no need for cladding.
Heirloom also offers single-glazed (non IG, monolithic) replicas, wavy glass and/or ”True Divided Lite” windows.
Regardless of the glazing configuration option chosen, Heirloom Window products ensure that historic proportions and style is maintained while eliminating air-infiltration with contemporary, completely hidden weather-stripping.
The following is a guest post explaining these products that are recommended by Old House Guy.
Heirloom Windows is pleased to announce new glass options and configurations to their Replica Window product line. All Heirloom Window have the following features in common. The various glazing options appended at the end.
Unlike other window manufacturers, Heirloom Windows does not brag about energy savings, convenience, cost savings or any of the sales pitches heard elsewhere. While their products do provide those advantages, their primary concern is helping people with vintage homes replace their windows with the most historically accurate product possible. In all Heirloom installations, one cannot discern it’s not the original window from greater than five feet distant – certainly not from the “curb”.
Below are many of the elements that Heirloom has considered when designing their products, most of which concern appearing as authentic and historic looking as possible. More details can be found on their website heirloomwindows.com .
Let’s begin with a Video and more details will follow below.
Historic Casing Dimensions
One of the most glaring problems with contemporary window systems is their “anemic” appearing window casing (3.5” vs 4.5” – 5.5”). That problem does not exist with Heirloom products their “Replacement Sash System” utilizes your extant window casing, jamb and frame. You only replace the sash, while adding contemporary weather-stripping. You get to keep your original jambs and interior and exterior casing. This eliminates the inconvenience, terrible mess and expensive labor required to repair plaster and clapboard when replacing the entire window system (sash, casing, jamb and all).
Authentically Sized and Shaped Top Rails & Muntins – with your choice of colors
The second most distinguishing characteristic of older windows is sash and muntin geometry and sizing. In their quest to satisfy your desire for historic accuracy, Heirloom will match your original muntin and top rail geometry right down to the muntin width (some are 5/8”, most are ¾” while others are 1 ¼” – 1 ½”) and geometry (round, arched, gothic etc.). Likewise, to ensure historic accuracy and continuity with the rest of the architecture, Heirloom windows are paintable and stainable.
Authentic Stile and Rail Dimensions
Stiles are the vertical and rails the horizontal pieces of wood in a window sash. It might not be immediately noticeable, but the width of the stiles and rails and their relationship (ratio) to the glass have a significant effect on the appearance of the window. Older windows tend to look more delicate (less frame – more glass). Heirloom is one of the only companies that makes the stiles and rails the same dimensions as your originals. This means your windows will maintain that authentic, delicate look.
Conversely, for a sash to “tilt in” there must be an unsightly, visible band of plastic around the interior perimeter of the sashes and it requires a “fatter” jamb liner to accommodate the tilt hardware, thus adulterating the glass/wood ratios (more frame – less glass). Heirloom’s clients universally reject the compromises required for this feature.
Historically Deep Molding Profiles
Measure the depth from the interior edge of your original sash to the glass. It will be within an 1/8” of 7/8”. This depth is a major factor in the “character” of your windows. Heirloom Windows is dedicated to maintaining that profile depth of the stiles, rails and muntins to preserve the richness of appearance.
Heirloom Windows uses only through and open, square, mortise and tenon joinery which is the time tested, industry standard, for making rugged window sash frames. This method requires much more equipment, tooling and time but it makes a better joint that will last for generations. Other small window manufacturers, as well as some of the bigger ones, use easier joinery methods, such as round end tenons, dowel pins, biscuits, splines or pocket holes.
Traditional Joinery Lines
There is (or should be) a noticeable line where the rails (horizontal) land on the stiles (vertical) on both the interior and exterior of a traditional window sash. Many companies offer thin plastic or aluminum exterior cladding that are usually mitered at the joints. This is a dead giveaway that a window is a “clad replacement” and why many historic HOA’s and HPC’s demand solid wood replacements.
Amazingly, Heirloom windows have an exterior that is as authentic, yet as maintenance free as one can imagine. Heirloom uses a full ¼” of “Tricoya” (Accoya composite), cut exactly like the stiles and rails so the joints are precisely where they should be. Furthermore, the ¼” exterior window sash surface is also the glass stop, beveled to the glass to replicate putty glazing. Even on close inspection one cannot determine the surface is not wood, glazed with putty! The material holds no moisture and therefore paint last many times longer. You will never have to re-glaze.
Protect your Extant Frame Fabric
All Heirloom replacement window systems have jamb liners which are also made of maintenance free material. Once painted into place they are unobtrusive and function to cover and protect your existing jamb sides, particularly where they meet the sill and are prone to degradation. Once installed they are practically invisible. The system has provisions, if necessary, for covering and protecting deteriorated sills as well.
Weather-stripped to Stop All Air-infiltration
Like practically everything else in the world, weather-stripping technology has improved exponentially over the last 50 years. New pile seals for sliding applications no longer “shed” their fibers and compress. Top quality bulb seals now have no “memory” and continue to return to their original shapes to maintain the proper compression. Heirloom incorporates all these contemporary components into their replacement windows, but you’d never know it, because they are all completely hidden from sight, quietly and invisibly eliminating air-infiltration.
Heirloom Windows has designed our replacement sash sets to be installed from the interior by a competent DIY’er in 1 – 2 hours. Through instructional images, videos and phone support you or your contractor should be able to accomplish the project at a rate of 4 – 6 windows per day. Alternatively, for larger, whole house projects, installation by Heirloom Windows can be discussed.
A lot of technical concepts are mentioned above, but each one is addressed on their website. www.heirloomwindows.com Go there for more detailed explanations.
(IGU=Insulated Glass Unit; VIG=Vacuum Insulated Glass (best))
UniLite VIG (.21 or .07 U value)
Is a bit of a misnomer since there are actually two lites of glass in this system. However, it’s so thin it looks like a single unit. VIG is two, either 3mm or 4mm lites separated by 0.2 mm with that space vacuumed to remove all air. A ¼” VIG unit provides the same thermal efficiency as a full 1” standard Insulated Glass Unit and the 5/16 unit has an R-value equal to a 4” stud wall with fiberglass insulation! See “Spacia VIG” for more info.
Are identical to the Unilite VIG series but with single glazing (monolithic) rather than a dual sealed IG systems.
Are UniLite windows with optional distressed glass, just like 150 year old glass. Heirlooms customers have frequently commented that they are loath to abandon their “Old Window Glass”, with all its distortion and imperfections. Heirloom is now offering “wavy glass” as a UniLite option for those who appreciate that historic characteristic.
TDL – True Divided Light
TDL is an oft bandied about phrase but the ramifications are usually misunderstood. A true divided lite window requires at least ¼” of division (muntin wood) and 3/16” of glazing rebate. So the minimum muntin thickness would be 5/8”. However, most IG units have at least 7/16” of spacer, meaning a minimum of 1-1/8” of muntin is required with no allowance for fit or expansion. Realistically a 1-1/4” muntin is appropriate for use with IG or VIG units .
The point being that TDL is only applicable with monolithic systems (requiring no edge spacing). Heirloom Windows can, and will, do TDL but only with monolithic glass, either float glass or “wavy glass” – not IG or VIG.
The Old House Guy preaches Restore, Preserve, Maintain, but if you ARE going to replace your windows, Heirloom windows has the best products for your old house.