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Better to Replace Historic Windows?

Better to Replace Historic Windows

Nails on a chalkboard. There is a strong undercurrent out there about “is it better to replace historic windows.” Some of the reasons (uninformed) people might believe it is better to replace their sticky, squeaky, stubborn, drafty windows are not based in fact.

They are especially not based on the real-life experience and results homeowners are receiving.

The number one lie –

  1. With new windows, you’ll save money and energy.

Lie. Lie. Lie. I hear nails scratching again…

Window Manufacturers – Their Huge Ugly Lie

The window manufacturing industry has come up with a huge lie. It’s hard to blame them for doing it. After all, it’s worth billions and billions of dollars to them. Because there are so many historic windows in this country, it makes sense for them to send lobbyists with deep pockets and vast networks to Washington to get the lawmakers to buy into it.

After all, we are an aging country. All our systems are broken. Our infrastructure is aging and unsafe. Our homes and buildings are old and need to be refurbished and preserved. We are a country that hasn’t adopted energy savings on a mass level.

So, the big box window manufacturers did their math. They realized not only is there a ton of money to be made in the window restoration industry, the sustainability of such a business is absolutely solid – for a very, very long time. For every decade of window replacements they do, another vast swath of buildings turn another decade old. Millions and millions of windows need to be fixed, preserved, and replicated. And the number keeps growing.

The most profitable way to approach this industry – from a window manufacturer’s perspective – is to automate the craftsmanship. Well… that’s an oxymoron. There is no craftsmanship in a manufactured window.

They reduced their materials and labor expenses and increased their profits by developing equipment that produces synthetic windows quickly, in mass quantities. They eliminated the two most expensive elements in window preservation – the craftsman and the natural product that must be grown, harvested and milled prior to crafting a sash or frame.

Because the window product is synthetic (vinyl, some form of metal, or plastic) they tout it as a window resistant to the enemies of the historic wood window. They also tell you, “…therefore, you won’t have the same problems you have with your original historic windows.” They won’t rot, stick, squeak, need maintenance, etc. They appeal to your emotions and your wallet.

You Believe What You Want to Hear

With enough money and a seemingly impenetrable value proposition, you can get people to listen to you, especially when it is what you already want.

When you have enough money, you can get your message out to the people who want a better solution.

With enough money, you can get the law-makers to believe you. And, with enough money, you can put 2 and 2 together for the law-makers and help make them heroes to the American people.

When the people who want a better solution make enough noise, law-makers must look for a solution. Under the umbrella of the big box window manufacturer’s very well-developed, false value proposition, fabricated, synthetic windows solve a multitude of problems for law-makers.

Law-makers are under pressure to find resolutions:

  • To improve energy efficiencies in every way
  • Preserve America’s infrastructure and buildings
  • Help everyday people find affordable ways to maintain their real-estate
  • Keep money moving and commerce flowing

What they don’t know and care enough about is that the big box window replacement companies:

  • Windows are fabricated
  • Value-proposition is fabricated
  • Promise is fabricated
  • Results are fabricated

Lie number 2 –   

  1. Not only do they cost less, they last longer

You’ll find articles, testimonies and studies all over the web that shine the light on this big lie.

These windows don’t last. In fact, they often need to be replaced in 10 – 12 years. In many cases, homeowners take out loans or lines of credit to finance them. Before those debts are repaid, the windows look horrible and no longer function properly.

  • The springs pop out
  • They don’t stay up
  • They don’t close properly
  • The glass is thin and breaks easily
  • The synthetic materials don’t create air tight seals

I could go on. But you get the picture.

Preserve Old Windows

Appealing to Your Emotions

When your historic windows have not been properly maintained, less face it, they can be miserable. But, so is anything else.

How many times have we been miserable (this is an emotional state) and wanted it resolved – period. We waited too long to maintain it. We waited too long to resolve it. We are frustrated and hate the collateral consequences.

We want it fixed.


Along comes a well-crafted song and dance that appeals to two of your most compelling arguments.

  • Save Time – Get rid of these time sucking windows; No more maintenance, save more time for family and yourself

Window Manufacturer Sales Person: Replace these tired old, outdated, squeaky, crappy old windows you can’t even see through. Imagine a beautiful window you never have to strip, repair or paint. It’s nearly maintenance free.

You – standing outside of your historic home: There’s the thought bubble. It is right over the top of your head. You are playing a video of your beautiful new windows. They are beautiful today and beautiful several years down your-thought-bubble-time-line. You have this dream state in which you see your beautiful historic home looking beautiful with vinyl, metal and plastic.

  • Save Money. No more maintenance or repairs. Lower energy bills. More money for the family and retirement

Window Manufacturer Sales PersonThese windows are crafted with precision. No more drafts, no more loss of air conditioning and heat. Imagine the money you’ll save. 

You – standing outside of your historic home:  In your thought bubble, you are pulling out your wallet… and your credit card. Why not? This is exactly what you want!

Let’s imagine that for a minute, you don’t understand the many levels of value involved in retaining the historic integrity of your home. Perhaps you don’t even care about the historic integrity.

That’s fine.

But, I’m sure you care about the integrity of your biggest financial investment.

Money and time are two of the three most compelling factors upon which we make decisions. If you want to know what the other two top compelling factors are, ask me on Facebook. I’ll tell you!

A fabricated argument about money and time are about to cost you a lot of money. You’ll spend a lot of time fretting about that decision and a lot of time working to pay back the debt resulting from that bad decision.

You’ll also spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do when your manufactured windows need to be replaced – before you finish paying for them.


Why You Should Preserve and Restore Your Historic Windows

Facts, you say? Here are the facts about why it is better to restore and preserve your old windows.

Even with the new synthetic replacement window’s:

  • Double-paned, coated glass with a pocket of air or dense gas between them
  • Transparent, low-emissivity coating (Low-E) to reflect heat
  • Energy efficient tax credits

These second-class replacements cannot outperform their historical predecessor. 

1st Fact. In fact, a 2010 study by Frank Shirley of the American Institute of Architects compared the cost of the thermal performance of replacing a window in a pre-1940s home with simply installing a storm window over the existing window.

The results? He found it was far more cost effective to add a storm window to a well-maintained historical window than to replace it with a manufactured window.

2nd Fact. Another study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation reached a similar conclusion, determining that window-retrofit measures such as installing a storm window and weather stripping achieved energy savings comparable with a replacement window.

Indo Window produces a tried and true product that produces the same results.

3rd Fact. Scott Sidler, from writes about this very topic. He goes into detail about why manufactured window replacements are not a good alternative to maintaining and preserving your original historic windows.

Historic windows have lasted a lifetime. That’s decades longer than the best warranties that come with some of the best manufactured windows.

4th Fact. Original historic windows are made of old-growth lumber. It was more rot resistant than the lumber commonly available today. Their simple design made them simple to operate, simple to maintain, simple to fix. Other than years of paint build-up or broken sash cords, historic windows do not have the problems or complexities of modern fabricated windows.

It has been proven over and over that a well-maintained wood window is as energy efficient as a brand new manufactured window. And, I’ll say it again. The well-maintained, wood window will last a lifetime. Your manufactured windows won’t.

5th Fact. You’ll replace synthetic, manufactured windows as many as 5 times compared to the lifespan of its historic counterpart.

6th Fact. If you own a historic home and you don’t plan to be there a lifetime, there are many energy and economic reasons to preserve your historic windows.

  • The value of your home or building is greater when it’s historic integrity has been preserved. There’s hundreds of articles supporting this statement online. Here’s a recent one.
  • You’ll sell your home much faster when you have preserved its historic integrity
  • Your well-maintained historic windows are as energy efficient as a quality new window replacement



Wood Window Makeover’s Lifetime Sash

So, you have a problem.

Your home’s old windows need help and you are at a cross road.

Wood Window Makeover’s Lifetime Sash is your answer. These sash resolve the challenges you are facing.

They are economical, historical replicas of your home’s unique windows, and the wood we use is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Guaranteed. No one else does that. Because they can’t.

Our Lifetime Sash and the wood they are made of (is):

  • Low-maintenance
  • Sustainable
  • Resistant to swelling and rot
  • Resistant to the enemies of historic wood windows
  • Have the characteristics of the most durable hardwoods
  • They have industry-leading environmental credentials
  • Has no chemicals not already found in wood
  • Comes from abundantly available, sustainable, well-managed sources

Our Lifetime sash provide numerous environmental advantages over slow-growth hardwoods, especially non-renewable carbon-intensive materials such as plastics.

Because they don’t shrink and swell, their energy economy is second to none. Really.  Guaranteed.

Do your homework. You can buy the lie today and pay the debt for years to come. Or you can take the road that is paved with common sense – and experience. Don’t default into a fairy tale thought bubble. We all do it. It always costs us when we do.

Give us a call or inquire about restoring and preserving your historic windows. It’s free.

Simply fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to you immediately.

Let’s Talk About Your New Window Restoration Business

There’s only one way to find out: fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to you immediately.
If you like, we can also set up an appointment with a senior member of our team to look at your project.


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I specialize in residential historic window preservation and restoration. I'm a budding craftsman and I own a small company. I love my neighborhood and its diversity and am uber passionate about preserving historic buildings and homes. I'm a husband and father of 2 beautiful children and the owner of a 1920s Tampa, FL bungalow. When I’m not restoring a window or repairing something in our old home, I’m at the ball park or piano lessons!

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