I’m always looking at houses while driving and when I saw this house I thought it would be a great chance to compare old wood windows to replacement windows.
Besides being a nice house this is a great example since you have matching windows to compare to. Unfortunately this house is in the process of installing bad vinyl replacement windows.
Notice the two side wings of this house.
The left side retains the three original wood windows but the right side has three vinyl replacement windows.
Here they are close up – click to enlarge.
- Center window is original, six-over-one, true divided light, partially concealed by a storm window.
- Side windows are also six-over-one true divided light, but without storm window
- Side windows are smaller and window lights (panes) are also smaller than the center window but the pattern is maintained. This gives the center window prominence over the side windows.
- Center window is a replacement with six-over-one flat plastic grills.
- Side windows are replacements with large four-over-one plastic grills.
- Side windows are smaller but lights are larger than the center window, and larger than the original side windows they are replacing.
This window configuration the center window should have hierarchy and prominence over the smaller side windows. This is created by having smaller sized window lights (panes) in the smaller windows.
The replacement window does the opposite.
It actually works against the hierarchy and harmony the window configuration should have. This is a bad design.
Additionally the replacement windows are merely plastic grills. Wood true divided light windows provide nice sharp shadow lines that give windows character and interest. Vinyl grills provide a painted on look that is flat with no shadows.
Window sales people do not know or care about proper design.
diane mccasland says
I so agree with you on depth of wood windows and how flat vinyl windows look aesthetically. I’ve tried to explain this point to people and they don’t seem to get it. Why does everyone push vinyl windows especially for historic houses? They are toxic for the environment to produce and off gas in your home.
Energy efficiency, primarily, and noise reduction. I owned a bungalow with beautiful 3 over ones. We lived near an airport and everyone was getting free noise reduction windows ( the jet noise would make it difficult to hear the person next to you talking). But I refused them because I loved my original windows, they my were in good shape, and we were used to the noise. So much in that house was original as I had purchased it from the original owner.
After selling it however, the new owners did not appreciate the windows like I did, and now my beautiful little bungalow looks like it is staring, never blinking, eyes forever wide open. Much as I dislike the flat fake panes dividers, they’re at least a littlie bit better then none…as long as they are consistant with the original stylings, like a 3 over 1. The foursquares are not appropriate for bungalows, for example.
But, yes, the reason primarily is for energy efficiency. The new windows do keep both cold out in the winter, and heat out in the summer.
It’s nice to read others who appreciate the beauty of the originals, and the importance of consistancy of design also.
Because the salesman knows more than you. He/she is the expert.
We had a window salesman from a big box store for 6 windows on our old Vermont cape home. They brought ONLY a sample of a vinyl window. What we had been interested in for our home was vinyl ourside, real wood inside. Forget about it, they don’t want to sell those. Our windows are white with black painted grills outside, with steel coloured shutters. Well, all they sell is white , oh, or a fake looking wood for inside, and you cannot paint or stain them. We were thinking about what we would NOT want to do upon retirement, such as redoing upstairs windows, and so on, but somehow putting all vinyl in our home would be like putting plastic upholstry in a Rolls Royce or something.
Barbara Brabson says
So, after reading through all this wonderful information, I have summarized the following:
Replacement sashes are worth looking into. I have a 1926 bungalow in Wyoming. Right now it has old sash windows, great trim inside and out, and old storm windows which are a joke. And nothing is plumb. So after reading and researching, I am going to explore the wooden sash replacement. The Marvin site recommends sash replacement first, then doing the screens. So this eliminates the need for storm windows?? I just want to be an informed consumer before I head out to talk to the Marvin people here in Cheyenne. Many thanks for any comment you can make to help make my list of questions pertinent to my needs.
Ken Roginski says
Hi Barbara – There is no need to replace your window sash. Never replace your window sash – restore it and maintain it. Keep your historic windows and install a storm window with low e glass. This is the only sensible thing to do. Do not throw your money away on a disposable window. Storm windows are eligible for an energy star rebate. Storms are about $200 a window. I recommend https://www.quantapanel.com/
Carla G says
We have an old stone house from the 1930’s that still has the original Andersen windows throughout. They need new storms on the outside and painting, especially on the north and west side, but add so much beauty and character to the house. Would be sad to replace them with cheap vinyl crap windows.
In my area, where the houses were built in the late Thirties to early Forties, a few people have added insult to injury by not only replacing good, wooden true-divided-light windows with metal or some other material, but have essentially put blinders on their house. The new window frames are black, the cheap grids are black and the window glass is dark gray.They’ve destroyed the appearance of their houses. It’s like looking at a human face with no eyes.
Ken Roginski says
Yes black gutters and windows are a new look that does not work with the rest of the architecture.
Hi Ken, Apologies if I missed this somewhere, but I was curious to hear your take on window awnings – ie when are they appropriate (if ever), styles, color guidelines, etc. Seems like it should be part of a broader discussion around energy efficiency. Love the site, I’m a new owner of an 1880 farmhouse in PA and you’re a tremendous resource
Ken Roginski says
I think awnings are great. Here is one blog article https://www.oldhouseguy.com/keeping-cool/
I totally recommend canvas awnings for any house.