A house’s structural condition is often at stake when deciding whether to restore or replace old windows. The annual cost and labor of maintaining wooden windows must be weighted versus the monetary investment of new weather-tight vinyl windows.

The pros and cons of removing or rehabing windows



Household windows may be all about the look, but when it comes time for something new, there’s a lot more to windows than meets the eye.

Beyond aesthetics, which is always important, one’s got to look at a whole host of factors that might influence the way one replaces — or repairs — the windows in one’s home. Is there major air incursion? Foggy panes of glass? Water damage on walls nearby?

And even more, is the house older? Newer? What type of siding is on the outside? And, finally, and perhaps most importantly in the end, how much money have you got to spend?

“There are all kinds of factors that you have to weigh in when you’re talking about replacing windows. And that’s the first thing I always ask any customer — what do you really want this window to do?” said EBS Building Supplies’ account manager Brent Beal. “There are pros and cons to any kind of window that you’re looking at. So it all depends on the customer and the house and the budget.”

As far as replacing old windows, any one that you install is going to be better than what’s there, Beal said.

“Many times, it all comes back to the budget,” he said. “Do you want to spend $120? Do you want to spend $250? Do you want to spend $800?”

The first step is fairly straightforward for most homeowners: qualify the type of house that you’re living in. Obviously, for an old farmhouse, a high-end, wooden replacement window is going to best match the building’s aesthetics. But that choice may not always be within budget, and when homeowners are contemplating leaky windows and heating fuel prices, there are many factors to consider.

This is where good, better, best scenarios come in. With the old farmhouse, the “good” choice would likely be a vinyl replacement window, Beal said. The all-white product may not lend itself to the aesthetics of the house, but it’s going to be better than what’s there.

“It’s going to help that homeowner replace their windows on a budget, and be happy there not spending all their money on heating oil,” Beal said.

The “better” option would involve upping one’s budget for an all-wood or combination wood/fiberglass unit. These are going to provide superior efficiency, while also maintaining the aesthetics of the house.

“At the ‘better’ scenario, we’ve got some options we can start to enjoy that match the atmosphere with the personality of the house,” Beal said.

The “best” option, and this holds true whether for an old farmhouse, an older modular or most any style, said Beal, typically involves tearing out the old window completely and installing a new one. While this increases labor costs and causes more of a disturbance, the benefits are typically worth the work.

“A replacement window is only stripping out the guts of the window. You don’t know how it’s flashed to the house, you don’t know if its weather tight,” Beal said. “When you replace the whole thing, you’re getting back to the bones of the structure, if you will.”

 

Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]