Windows are the soul of a building. They let in the light that brightens all the features that tell the home’s story. This is even more true of windows in historic homes.
When the windows of a historic home are altered or removed, the entire story of the house is rewritten. Despite what the window replacement industry says, the home value decreases as well. Historic windows are irreplaceable, but they can still have the same performance of modern windows.
Most historic windows come with hand-made, old-growth wood frames. Old-growth wood is more pest- and decay-resistant than modern wood. Old-growth wood has ten times the rings per inch new-growth wood does. Because of this density, it expands and contracts less in varying weather conditions so causes less paint cracks, joint loosening, and gaps.
Your historic windows can last another hundred years with proper care.
Tips to Preserve Historic Windows
Below are three tips from restoration and historic home expert Scott Sidler of The Craftsman Blog. He says the number one mistake historic homeowners make is window replacement:
1. Practice Regular Maintenance
Regular maintenance of your historic windows is key to preserving them for years. Most historic homeowners know that careful, regular work is worth the reward for the beauty and quality you receive.
- Repaint the frame. Use the lengthy dry time to repair the sash
Repair the sash. Secure the sash cords in place before removing the sash
Repair the frame. Use wood putty or epoxy to fix rotten spots in wooden frames after treating wood with fungicide
2. Evaluate the Structure of the Window
Use a sharp object to see if the wood is spongy, decaying, wet, or falling apart, indicating damage.
Small Repairs: apply fungicide followed by wood putty in damaged areas
Large Repairs: after fungal treatment, use epoxy or resin to make the structure stable
Heavy Damage: remove and replace parts of the sash or frame. Use the same materials when possible
3. Modernize & Preserve Historic Windows
- If your historic windows are in good condition, or you’ve finished with your repairs, ensure they are performing with the same efficiency and soundproofing as modern windows. Indow creates custom, energy-efficient window inserts that press into the inside of window frames without damaging the wood.
The inserts provide 20% average energy savings and up to 70% reduction in outside noise while preserving historic windows. Because they are custom-made, they fit out-of-square windows perfectly.
Care for your historic windows by keeping them in your historic home! Regular maintenance and repairs will keep them beautiful and functional. If your home is in need of more energy efficiency or soundproofing than historic windows can provide, retrofit them with removable, non-damaging window inserts.