Historic Windows: Restoration vs. Replacement

You’re standing in the dining room of your old 1920s bungalow. It’s mid January and you’re feeling the 20 degree draft coming in thinking “I’ve got to replace these windows!” You’re beginning to convince yourself that it’s time to let your home’s historic charm go for the sake of your heating bill. You hate it. Your house will never look the same again. It will lose all the historic appeal that makes it feel uniquely yours..


When you own an older home, there will always be compromises. But this compromise – the freezing cold draft and astronomical Dominion bills – is just not working for you anymore. But before you start shopping for replacement windows, there are a few things to consider that would allow you to keep those charming old windows and solve your problems.


Let’s start with the benefits of keeping your old windows.


First of all, according to a window restoration expert of “Pain in the Glass” in Rochester, New York, the materials in your old windows are far superior. The wood often comes from large, old trees, making it tighter grained and more rot and insect resistant than the juvenile growth wood of todays windows.


Secondly, restoring your old windows costs significantly less than replacing them fully. We get it... if you have energy efficient windows, your heating and cooling bills will decrease, but did you know that it takes a minimum of 12 years (and up to 30, depending on who you ask!) to break even on the cost of replacement? Furthermore, most don’t last more than 10 years before needing repairs or full replacement. This all depends on the caliber of window you purchase, but again, cost will increase with quality here too.


"I have 'new' replacement windows in my house. They were there when I bought it and are only 15 years old, yet I can think of at least 5 that have broken seals, don’t close correctly, or let in a draft. Also keep in mind that the environmental impact of restoring is far less than replacing – something that we shouldn’t overlook in this increasingly “green” conscious world." -Karen

And lastly – and we know this one is big for a lot of Richmonders – you can’t just throw away that irreplaceable historic charm your original windows offer. New windows will decrease your curb appeal and take something away from the character of your home (and, depending on the buyer, potentially its value).


For minimal cost, you can improve your current windows' functionality, prevent all that material from ending up in a landfill, keep the historic charm of your home, and still not have to compromise on your heating and cooling bills. According to that same window restoration company in Rochester, New York, durable effective weather-stripping can be retrofitted inexpensively, on virtually any old window. Replacing window panes on your old windows can be done economically and those old rope and pulley systems aren’t very expensive to replace, as you can usually just swap out the rope.


Call us old fashioned, but we think you should consider it all before just tossing out the old and bringing in the new.

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One South Realty Group, LLC | 2314 W Main Street, Richmond, VA 23220

Scott Andrews, Karen Call, Jess Houser, and Karina Martinez are licensed in the Commonwealth of VA