Wood Windows: Why Restore and not Replace.
Wood windows are part of the original, irreplaceable, historic fabric of our homes. Also, they are almost always of a much higher quality than anything you can replace them with today. With a little knowledge and effort, combined with some modern materials, your windows can be restored to their former beauty and the result will be a first class, historically correct, valuable and energy-efficient window. Here are a few reasons why restoring is the better choice.
The Wood: The wood in the past was more dense and tightly grained, resulting in a more stable window. Wood today is grown on tree farms, where growth stimulants are used, and the resulting quality is much lower. The metal or vinyl windows that are commonly used to replace the old wood windows are cheaply made, and, once either the thin metal or vinyl cracks or breaks or the cheap spring system fails (it will), the whole thing has to be thrown away.
The Craftsmanship.Almost all of the wood windows used mortise and tenon joinery, the very best for windows. Also, the panes were truly divided, not like the metal ones which are just single panes with cheap metal strips attached to make them look like the old style. Plus, any unique lips or edges that were carved into the wood cannot be created in metal. The very best replacement windows have 20 year warranties where they are made to replace wood windows that have been there for 50-100 years.
The Mechanisms:The original weight and balance system is still the best window system available in terms of durablility and service. When restored properly, even the largest windows can be lifted with one finger, the result of fine balancing the weights and adjusting the stops (the little strips of wood that the windows ride against). Replacement windows have either spring tension or simple friction systems to keep the windows open which will fail at some point and will likely be impossible to fix so, you end up buying new ones. A great idea, if you're in the window business, that is. Also, the old windows usually allowed the top sash to be lowered, which created hot air ventilation and, when combined with lower sash raising throughout the house, created fresh air currents which could be manipulated and directed to flow throughout the house.
There are many articles on the internet that illustrate how to restore old wood windows. Sash cords (the ropes) nowadays have strong inner cords and will last a lot longer than the originals, or, sash chain can be used that will probably never break. Spring bronze weather stripping will stop air leaks and smooth the operation of the window. Replacement pulleys are available that are high quality and quiet. As Pecan Park's homes become more and more historic with each passing year, let's do our part to protect and preserve them for whoever ends up with them in the future and for our own pleasure while we live in them.