Thursday, December 9, 2010

Window Restoration Part I

I'm typing from our home office with no windows and quite the cross breeze for a December day. Today begins the restoration of our 104 year old single pane wood windows. Most of the windows in the house are original and the second story windows have awesome 16 pane divided lites on the upper sashes. On the main floor we have several windows with leaded glass upper sashes.
When previous owners renovated the kitchen the replaced the original windows at the rear of the house. I feel fortunate that at least they selected new wood windows, even though I think we lost some muntin detailing.
My plan with the windows in this house has been two fold: 1) Improve or restore functionality and 2) Improve or restore efficiency. During the process of stripping the decades of lead paint from the wood work in order to restore a stained wood finish, I made sure that the windows that were painted (and sometimes nailed) shut were rendered operable again so that we could create ventilation in the house again. How wonderful it was to be able to open the double hung windows upstairs in the summer in order to cool it down before bedtime! The downside to some of this is that the paint was acting as a seal for some of these windows...once operable again they began to rattle when it was windy out. They needed to be weather stripped.The other problem with efficiency was that the single panes of glass allowed too much of a heat exchange with the outside temperature. Unfortunately the easy way out of this for most people is to pitch their vintage windows and replace them entirely. Often times vinyl will be used because this is the cheapest alternative. ***shudder*** Being an old house lover this was entirely out of the question for me. While I'm glad the previously replaced windows were wood and not vinyl, I knew we could do better with what remained.
The best option is to have wood storm windows made. With this option one does not lose the integrity of windows and nothing needs to be removed from the interior of the house and the casings and mouldings are all left intact (which means no touch up work.) This is the option we selected for the single pane windows on the first floor. Mr. W is willing to pull out a ladder and remove and install them bi-annually so that we have a heat buffer in the winter and ventilation in the summer.
The second story was a different matter. He isn't a fan of heights to begin with and the thought of having to haul storm windows up a ladder did not seem like a good idea to me. So we went with the option of having a second pane of glass added to the sashes. We'll end up losing a little bit of the detail of the sash from the interior, but it is a minor amount compared to the advantages of being able to reuse the window and gain insulation. Most of the windows upstairs are a single, one lite sash. Four of the upper sashes are the 16 pane divided lites, two in the office and two in the hallway. Rather than try to cut in to the wood that many times a 'slip' is added to the exterior of the sash which will cover the glass and has a very low profile, metal moulding holding it in place. I'm normally not a fan of metal, but these are very unobtrusive and we are able to keep our awesome divided lite sashes.
The window company is also doing some repair work to the windows. A few of the original sashes were broken so new glass will be installed. I'm a little sad to lose the original 'wavy' glass, but we just can't have cracked windows. In the office the two lower sashes were both plexi-glass!!! How on earth that got over looked in an inspection is quite beyond me. I anticipate that with the addition of two panes of real glass in the windows, this room will be much more comfortable, especially since it faces south.
It will be a three day process, but it is well worth it. In addition to getting an end of the year discounton the labor and materials, we also will be able to take advantage of the Obama tax credit for improving efficiency.
Mr. W joked this morning that this was my special window day and also my Christmas present. I questioned why fixing wood windows was just my gift. Then I asked if the tax credit was his gift. He agreed that it was and continued that the baby was my gift and the baby tax credit was his gift. So there you have it, the division of happiness in our household.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos for saving your fine old windows!

    Are the "SLIP" panes what is qualifying you for the tax credit?

    What company is doing the SLIP panes?

    Can you tell us more about how the tax credits work?