Author Topic: Replacement Windows Alternative  (Read 918 times)

El_Viajero

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Replacement Windows Alternative
« on: July 10, 2017, 01:36:52 PM »
UPDATE: I've decided to restore my wood windows rather than replace them with plastic vinyl ones. I'll probably update this thread with additional questions about DIYing my old wood windows.

Ok, end of update.

So I'd like new windows but I don't want to pay for new windows, you know? The situation:

My home and its windows are 36 years old. They're wood windows, double-pane. There are only 6 windows total. It's a small townhouse. Some of the windows are in ok-ish shape, but...

Two of them have rotten wood in the sash. One is particularly bad cracked open and kinda gunky.

One was a victim of a carpenter bee at some point. There's a big hole in the sash. This actually happened since I moved here. We had the window open one day and I noticed some sawdust on the sill. Then I noticed the hole. The bee didn't seem to be in there at the time, so I closed the window. I guess he/she never came back.

The others are mostly ok, but they require herculean strength to open. One or two are super hard to open, so I've given up. I just don't bother opening them at all. Oh, and about half of them also have calcium-like deposits in between the two panes, so there's a perpetual fogginess.

I like the idea of a full frame replacement because it gives me the opportunity to air seal around the window and get a new window without glass loss. The typical "pocket" replacement results in glass loss (and light loss), which I don't want in my small house. I know new windows don't really save much energy, but it'd also be nice to reduce drafts via air sealing around the frame with canned foam. Easy to do if you're replacing the whole window. Not so much with a typical replacement as I understand it.

I've done tons of research on vinyl windows and have pretty much concluded that it makes sense IF YOU'RE GETTING THEM AT ALL to spend more on a type that will last. I've compiled a list of local contractors and window makes/models that I'd be interested in discussing.

But first, I wanted to see if anyone here had an alternative that could help me save thousands of bucks. If I could somehow replace the sashes on the crappiest windows, address the carpenter bee hole (caulk?), clean the calcium deposits from between the panes on the foggy ones and reseal, and improve the operation of the windows so that they're easy to open and close, all for way less than throwing in the towel and getting new windows, well... I will.

Possible?
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 02:12:52 PM by El_Viajero »

Papa bear

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 01:44:18 PM »
6 vinyl replacement windows will set you back about 1,000 in material cost (low e and argon gas filled, double pane, double hung, full screen) You don't have to set them in the old frame, you can tear that out and then trim out the new window appropriately. 

If you DIY, it won't cost you much. 

I'll let others chime in with other options.


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El_Viajero

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 01:54:22 PM »
6 vinyl replacement windows will set you back about 1,000 in material cost (low e and argon gas filled, double pane, double hung, full screen) You don't have to set them in the old frame, you can tear that out and then trim out the new window appropriately. 

If you DIY, it won't cost you much. 

I'll let others chime in with other options.


Thanks. I should have mentioned before that all-out window replacement as a DIY project scares me. I'm fairly handy, but the consequences of screwing up usually aren't so serious. If I mess up a paint job, I paint over it. If I make a hole in the wall, I put on a drywall patch, and so on.

But screwing up a window replacement could leave a hole in my house or a big gap or...

That's why I'm wondering if there's a DIY maintenance alternative.

Or some "yes, you can do this" encouragement on the DIY replacement? I've seen the Youtube videos on it, but it still seems intimidating.

DarkandStormy

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 02:13:15 PM »
We are in a similar situation - about 9 windows but we're in a 117-year old house.  Restore the wood if you can!  You can do so much with wood - sand it down, add to it, etc.  It's also cheaper than vinyl replacements.  Something to consider for you - we're in the process now of shopping around and deciding if we want full refurbishing or just enough to make them functional.  I wonder if there are some DIY videos/tutorials that might be helpful for you.  We need rope replaced and have a couple rotting spots as well, so we're still in the "research" phase.

http://www.oldhouseauthority.com/archive/window_article.php

http://www.oldhouseguy.com/wood-window-restoration/

scantee

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2017, 02:17:43 PM »
I am having my 58 year old wood windows replaced right now. Vinyl pockets were appealing for the cost factor, but I ended up going for wood full frame replacements for the reasons you mention. With the age of my house, and the weird way the original windows were installed, pocket windows seemed like a bad choice. But it turns out full framing constitutes most of the cost of parts and installation, so once I decided to do that, it didn't make sense to put in the cheap vinyl windows. So I ended up going with the most expensive option, wood, full frame. To give you a sense of cost: 10 full frames windows in the cheapest vinyl were like $11k installed, top of line wood was $13k. Cheapest vinyl pockets were $6k.

Installing them yourself is certainly the cheapest option, but it is definitely not a home improvement project for a novice. I've done it before and it ended up being around $600 per window when you account for the windows, other parts and equipment, screw ups, and your time. Doing it yourself will run you around $3600 and getting full frame nice windows (the fiberglass ones are nice too) will probably be twice that. I of course have decided that it is worth it to get the nice windows, but I also plan to live in this house for a long time so it's worth it to me. If you think you might move in the next 3 to 5 years, it might make more sense to go the cheap route.




Sibley

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 10:11:21 AM »
Wood windows... how fun :)

From my experience with original wood windows from the 1920s/30s:

For small holes, dings, etc, they make products called wood filler. Clean up the area, put wood filler in (may take several applications, it's similar to patching walls), and sand. I've always had painted woodwork though, so not sure how it would work if yours are stained.

The old double hung windows had ropes to help open and close them. These are the first things to break usually, other than glass. Depending on the window it'll be impossible to open, or they won't stay up. You can take the window apart and replace the ropes. Tedious but DIYable.

Rotten wood. Depending on how bad it is, you may need to replace the wood. If it's all painted, it's just a matter of getting everything cut to match, installing and painting. For stained, trying to match woods can be harder. If the rot isn't bad, and the wood is softened but otherwise intact, you can get a wood hardener. This is a thin liquid that you paint on with a brush (I just get a disposable brush for this) and allow to dry. Then, paint with the rest of the window. You can also apply wood filler after the hardener has dried, so if the top is messed up or whatever it'll help with appearance.

Don't cheap out on wood filler or hardener - get the decent brands. They will last better and be easier to work with.

paddedhat

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 10:26:08 AM »
There isn't a reasonably functional, older, wood window that can't be rebuilt  to preform better and look good. You can eliminate leaky side jambs and energy wasting sash weights with vinyl insert jamb liners. You can rebuild any sash that isn't totally shot with all kinds of epoxy repair products designed specifically for the home restoration industry, and many local glass companies can build and install new insulated glass units in your old sashes. It's a lot of work, but not too expensive and worth it. The other thing is that you can have custom triple track storm windows made in many colors, and they will make a serious contribution to both energy efficiency in the home, and the longevity of your windows.

lthenderson

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 10:43:59 AM »
It is a shame that windows are treated as disposable these days. Good wooden windows that are maintained can last lifetimes. All the problems you mentioned can be readily fixed and at a fraction of the cost and effort of replacing them.

DarkandStormy

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 11:04:42 AM »
It is a shame that windows are treated as disposable these days. Good wooden windows that are maintained can last lifetimes. All the problems you mentioned can be readily fixed and at a fraction of the cost and effort of replacing them.

Ding, ding, ding.  These wood windows, if maintained properly, should last upwards of 200 years.  Imagine how much waste you'd have by buying and replacing vinyl windows in that time period.

Fishindude

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 11:19:49 AM »
I've replaced all of my old wood sash windows with new vinyl windows.   Also bought new windows for my son and daughter in law last Christmas, they run about $400 per window which includes remove and dispose, new vinyl windows installed, exterior aluminum flashing work and caulking in and out.   Don't feel like the savings to install myself is worth it.

Having fought the wood sash windows in several homes earlier in life, things I like about the new vinyl windows include:
* They open, close, lock and unlock easily.
* Never have to paint or glaze.
* They are insulated and don't fog or frost up.
* No secondary storm windows to mess with.
* The wind doesn't blow through them, no plastic needed in winter.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 07:27:24 AM by Fishindude »

El_Viajero

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 02:09:37 PM »
Thank you everyone for your input! Seriously, these are great insights from both sides pro-replacement and pro-restoration.

I've decided to restore my wood windows in a piecemeal fashion rather than replace them. I'll probably even update this thread with questions I have along the way. (or should I start a different one?)

I think the rot and holes can be fixed with epoxy, so that's good for DIY. I also found some kits online that have all the materials for de-fogging dual pane windows containing mineral deposits between the panes, so it looks like that's a DIY project too... although you've got to drill into the glass a little bit. Ahhhhhhh! Scary.

Those were the two big ones that freaked me out. All the other stuff is weatherstripping to keep out drafts, improving insulation around the frame, painting, replacing hardware, etc. that are very easily DIY fixes.

I'm gonna do this!

john6221

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 06:00:41 PM »
So, just so that I understand people. You're saying that it's better to fix up crappy crank-out wood windows like I have vs replace with vinyl?



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« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 06:07:27 PM by john6221 »

Fishindude

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 07:29:39 AM »
So, just so that I understand people. You're saying that it's better to fix up crappy crank-out wood windows like I have vs replace with vinyl?



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I wouldn't spend another nickle on that window.

paddedhat

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 08:26:02 AM »
Thank you everyone for your input! Seriously, these are great insights from both sides pro-replacement and pro-restoration.

I've decided to restore my wood windows in a piecemeal fashion rather than replace them. I'll probably even update this thread with questions I have along the way. (or should I start a different one?)

I think the rot and holes can be fixed with epoxy, so that's good for DIY. I also found some kits online that have all the materials for de-fogging dual pane windows containing mineral deposits between the panes, so it looks like that's a DIY project too... although you've got to drill into the glass a little bit. Ahhhhhhh! Scary.

Those were the two big ones that freaked me out. All the other stuff is weatherstripping to keep out drafts, improving insulation around the frame, painting, replacing hardware, etc. that are very easily DIY fixes.

I'm gonna do this!

I would read user reviews, and maybe try this on one pane. Don't get your hopes up, however, as it's my understanding that the glass is now etched on the two interior faces and nothing will improve the situation. I would also get pricing for having a local supplier make and install new insulated glass panes for the sashes. I have done it in the past, and it was surprisingly affordable. I have a friend with a seventies modern house that probably has thirty grand worth of fogged Pella windows. She has an outfit come and measure a roomful of fogged glass. They return a few weeks later with new panes, and replace then. It is a fraction of the cost of replacing the actual windows.

El_Viajero

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 08:30:21 AM »


I would read user reviews, and maybe try this on one pane. Don't get your hopes up, however, as it's my understanding that the glass is now etched on the two interior faces and nothing will improve the situation. I would also get pricing for having a local supplier make and install new insulated glass panes for the sashes. I have done it in the past, and it was surprisingly affordable. I have a friend with a seventies modern house that probably has thirty grand worth of fogged Pella windows. She has an outfit come and measure a roomful of fogged glass. They return a few weeks later with new panes, and replace then. It is a fraction of the cost of replacing the actual windows.

Agreed. I'll look into it some more before I give it a shot. I'll also look into having a local company replace panes as needed and compare the cost and perceived efficacy of each option.

DarkandStormy

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 08:59:13 AM »
So, just so that I understand people. You're saying that it's better to fix up crappy crank-out wood windows like I have vs replace with vinyl?


What is your concern with the window?  You can do some DIY projects to paint the wood, add in some wood-filler, make it a little bit more energy efficient, etc.  It'll cost you maybe $50 in materials + sweat equity.

john6221

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2017, 11:13:58 AM »
So, just so that I understand people. You're saying that it's better to fix up crappy crank-out wood windows like I have vs replace with vinyl?


What is your concern with the window?  You can do some DIY projects to paint the wood, add in some wood-filler, make it a little bit more energy efficient, etc.  It'll cost you maybe $50 in materials + sweat equity.
Well my concern is that they are rotting and gather moisture every winter, so they obviously leak. Not sure if they're worth fixing vs just replacing. Seems like one poster above doesn't think they're worth the time and I'm inclined to agree.

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J Boogie

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2017, 12:24:00 PM »
One thing to consider regarding updating really old wood windows is lead.

There is a 99.9% chance old wood window sashes have lead paint.  Even if it's stained instead of painted on the interior, they're almost always painted on the outside (for protection against the elements).

Remove that lead paint with EXTREME caution if at all.   Use heat if you want less dust and go full Dexter to capture all of the scraped off paint.  Better yet, check your city's options for lead abatement.  Many offer incentives to have your windows replaced.

The other thing is that these are single pane windows we're talking about.  Yeah, the storm windows can add a little extra insulation but they're still going to be a total heat sink, and who likes using storm windows? You can't get a breeze so you have to remove them and replace them every change of season? Don't even get me started on those incredibly frustrating aluminum screen/storm window combos. 

I own an 1890's duplex and I'm replacing 90% of the windows in my unit.  I think my income makes it so I don't qualify for 75% off, but I believe the City of St. Paul is still interested in working out some sort of deal as they want all lead painted windows in the city gone.

paddedhat

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2017, 01:38:29 PM »


The other thing is that these are single pane windows we're talking about.  Yeah, the storm windows can add a little extra insulation but they're still going to be a total heat sink, and who likes using storm windows? You can't get a breeze so you have to remove them and replace them every change of season? Don't even get me started on those incredibly frustrating aluminum screen/storm window combos. 



No, the discussion is about insulated glass units.  Storm windows add nothing in the way of insulation, they do however work to increase the over all performance of the opening to being comparable to an insulated glass unit. No idea why they would be a heat sink? Or what you are trying to say there? When added to older double hung windows, modern, pre-finished triple track storms have none of the negative issues you refer to, and are economical to buy, and install. They make the actual, period correct, original windows in a home last a lot longer, with a lot less maintenance, and dramatically improved energy efficiency.

El_Viajero

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2017, 02:10:23 PM »
Ok. More research has been done.

I'm now thinking of using a sash replacement kit as a middle ground option. It's not as cheap as totally DIY-restoring my existing windows and doing all the updates I listed, but it's much less expensive than hiring a company to install pocket windows.

It also results in a much more functional, better looking window with all the modern glass benefits (low-e, argon, et al), tilt out function, new jamb liners (mine are in crap shape). No glass loss like the pocket replacement window since you're just replacing the guts of the window; there's no new frame.

All I have to do is bust out my current windows, paint the new sashes, and install. Apparently installation is a cinch.

See how I went from "I'm going to restore my windows" to "I think I'm going to use a sash replacement kit" in 24 hours. Ha.

Is there any reason I shouldn't do this? My little house only has six windows total.

HipGnosis

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2017, 10:44:54 AM »
There isn't a reasonably functional, older, wood window that can't be rebuilt  to preform better and look good. You can eliminate leaky side jambs and energy wasting sash weights with vinyl insert jamb liners. You can rebuild any sash that isn't totally shot with all kinds of epoxy repair products designed specifically for the home restoration industry, and many local glass companies can build and install new insulated glass units in your old sashes. It's a lot of work, but not too expensive and worth it. The other thing is that you can have custom triple track storm windows made in many colors, and they will make a serious contribution to both energy efficiency in the home, and the longevity of your windows.
Thank you for the very informative post!
I didn't know about vinyl insert jamb liners or that glass companies can build and install new insulated glass units in your old sashes.
I've got a few windows that are prime candidates for those.

dcozad999

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2017, 01:00:31 PM »
What type of local company would you call to replace a window sash?  I just bought a 17 year-old house and the sash on one of the Pella wood frame windows is rotting out. I'd assume there'd be a much cheaper option than calling Pella?

J Boogie

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2017, 02:37:29 PM »
Ok. More research has been done.

I'm now thinking of using a sash replacement kit as a middle ground option. It's not as cheap as totally DIY-restoring my existing windows and doing all the updates I listed, but it's much less expensive than hiring a company to install pocket windows.

It also results in a much more functional, better looking window with all the modern glass benefits (low-e, argon, et al), tilt out function, new jamb liners (mine are in crap shape). No glass loss like the pocket replacement window since you're just replacing the guts of the window; there's no new frame.

All I have to do is bust out my current windows, paint the new sashes, and install. Apparently installation is a cinch.

See how I went from "I'm going to restore my windows" to "I think I'm going to use a sash replacement kit" in 24 hours. Ha.

Is there any reason I shouldn't do this? My little house only has six windows total.

The only reason you shouldn't do it is if your window openings are out of square, but if they're square then I don't see any reason not to.  I knew you could do this for single and double hung windows, but I didn't know they made these for casements.  I think it's a good way to go. 

J Boogie

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2017, 02:38:52 PM »
What type of local company would you call to replace a window sash?  I just bought a 17 year-old house and the sash on one of the Pella wood frame windows is rotting out. I'd assume there'd be a much cheaper option than calling Pella?

I wouldn't look for something cheaper than Pella if you have a decent house.  Since it's Pella, I'd go Pella and see if you can't get them to stand by their product in some way.

J Boogie

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Re: Replacement Windows Alternative
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2017, 03:15:11 PM »


The other thing is that these are single pane windows we're talking about.  Yeah, the storm windows can add a little extra insulation but they're still going to be a total heat sink, and who likes using storm windows? You can't get a breeze so you have to remove them and replace them every change of season? Don't even get me started on those incredibly frustrating aluminum screen/storm window combos. 



No, the discussion is about insulated glass units.  Storm windows add nothing in the way of insulation, they do however work to increase the over all performance of the opening to being comparable to an insulated glass unit. No idea why they would be a heat sink? Or what you are trying to say there? When added to older double hung windows, modern, pre-finished triple track storms have none of the negative issues you refer to, and are economical to buy, and install. They make the actual, period correct, original windows in a home last a lot longer, with a lot less maintenance, and dramatically improved energy efficiency.

True, the OP is referring to a double pane window.  I should have addressed your statement in particular, as that's what I was thinking of.

I maintain that old windows (and new ones too, to a lesser extent) are a total heat sink if you've ever looked at a house in the winter with a thermal camera.

I won't argue that aluminum track storm windows can offer acceptable performance, but I will say this - they don't do any favors for the period correct, original windows from the exterior.  They're ugly and don't match the era.  The simple wood storm windows aren't too bad on the eyes, but again those need to be replaced with their screen counterparts every spring if you want a breeze (and then every winter if you want the performance).  But even in the winter it's good to open your windows for a bit to allow some fresh air in, so you can't do that with the wood storm windows.

So what do I recommend? A triple prong approach -

For areas where exterior appearance IS important, and you DO regularly use the window:
A very high quality wood window like Marvin that will match your historic home.

For areas where exterior appearance IS important, and you DON'T regularly use the window:
Keep original window and build/use a wood storm window.

For areas where exterior appearance is NOT important, and you DO regularly use the window:

And of course you'll have to use your best judgment when it comes to windows that are close to each other that meet different criteria - you probably want some semblance of uniformity with your windows.

If it's a really high end home, maybe just go Marvin all over.

Hope this is helpful, it's pretty helpful for me to think through all these things as I prepare to action my windows.