So we’ve been through the brick and the cornice. Finishing off the Phase 2 façade work means replacing the windows. Remember what I have? Total junk. I was glad to learn how bad they were because I didn’t want vinyl windows under any circumstances and I can replace these without feeling guilty. To review:
I bent back the aluminum capping and then left it like this for several years.
I never like aluminum capping, but mine looks like this. (That scalloped marble lintel looks great in this photo though!)
Random scraps of wood nailed into the jambs apparently to bring the openings down to a stock size. (The gorilla glue is no longer extant.)
That window above was so racked I could see sunlight through outside the top sash. Now it’s gobbed up with caulk.
The window jambs had sagged and separated from the windows. And they were structural! So they were unsalvageable.
I partially removed the counterweight cavities in the process and then the insulation people filled them with spray foam. The remaining wood wasn’t in great shape – you can see chunks of the remaining framing missing.
I really love old windows best, but no houses I looked at still had them. So I decided to afford the best new windows I could find. And Craigslist brought me the very nice cottage style 2-over 2 Marvins in the back bedroom.
The originals would have been 1-over-1 (no muntins) but I think the style I got kinda makes up for the replacements being too perfect with non-wavy glass. I got 3 more (with my Obama energy loan!) to finish off the back and the plan was always to get 4 more for the front.
But then I met Wesley, a historic preservation carpenter specializing in buildings way older than mine. He said that by the time my house was built the windows would have come out of a catalog and are all standard sizes. People in his line of work collect them to cannibalize the wavy glass and install it in even older windows. And so, he says I should easily find period correct sashes that are exactly the right size to fit into my jambs! Unfortunately, I’ll have to take down my cheapie Eucaboard and the blinds on the front of the house to measure for the new/old sashes. (They look better painted. You almost can’t tell how bad they are.)
So, yes, I’m considering pulling out (drafty, poorly installed) double-paned windows and reinstalling old single-paned wood. Do you think I need psychiatric help? It’s true that getting nice new Marvins would be more efficient than un-replacing them with something period correct. But old windows will last longer. Old wood is much more resistant to rot than new. If I slip up with repainting my Marvins I could someday be stuck with buying new sashes. (NO ALUMINUM CLADDING ON THE FRONT!!!) And even if I don’t they may only last a few decades. Old windows can last forever. And besides that, I love everything about the pulleys and chains and counterweights on an old window. They slide better than anything new.
And I’m not blind to energy efficiency concerns. First off, windows are the very lowest return on investment you can get for efficiency. Even worse than solar panels now! So they might make sense if the old windows are really, truly wrecked and beyond restoration or if you have bad replacements. Good weatherstripping and storm windows on an old window will get you 95% of the efficiency gains from a new window. It should also cost a lot less upfront, and more of the cost would go to local labor. (The downside is that restoring them will be my local labor.) So yes, old windows are sensible, even (possibly) for someone who doesn’t have any! Definitely give them a chance before you commit to ripping them out!