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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Stay with old wood Anderson windows or update?

silverspaceDecember 6, 2012
I have a 1950's ranch style house that is in very, very good condition and I want to do some updating but since it was so well cared for I don't want to go overboard with renovations. I started updating in the back bedrooms and the windows are double hung Anderson, wood windows in what I would call "good" condition and I'm contemplating replacing them with better, higher end fiberglass/vinyl windows (wood is too expensive). So my question is: is this a good idea and would I get my money back when selling the house? I've had people say they like the old windows (they're not too drafty) and I'm not sure how much I would gain by adding new, white windows with updated white trim. I just wanted some ideas from people with a better eye for this stuff.

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Keep the wood ones - can't be replaced for the same money and these look pretty good.
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 2:27PM
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In 10 years, the "new" vinyl windows won't be new anymore, but the older wood windows will look just as good then as they do now. Wood windows have stood the test of time and if they are in good physical shape, don't replace them.
6 Likes    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I wish I could get these authentic wood windows! They've got great character. Not to mention, authentic.
Out of curiosity, what do they measure?
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Thanks for the input and thats basically what I thought. I'm not a window expert but it seems like someone spent a a lot of time and some money installing them so I didn't want to replace them with vinyl. They actually measure 36X52.

Thanks again.
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Schlosser Design Group
50's ranch style houses are wonderful. While double hung wood windows are great, they demand a of maintenance. I remodel a lot of these types of homes and like to keep the integrity of the time period. Having said that, your view is blocked by the divided lights. I use thermal broken aluminum with double pane gas permeable windows, which represent the same time period and are more dimensionally stable. they also come double hung and are better insulation than wood but not as good as vinyl and require no maintenance. They also cost about a third of the price of wood windows.
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
You can have a wood replacement done of just the sashes if you want to make some change and get better quality insulating factor in the windows. It appears there might be some type of storm window on and you could then get rid of that. I am not talking about the type of replacement like vinyl windows where they come in and hack up your window and insert a vinyl insert. It is a wood sash replacement kit and should be installed by a professional. You would find these through a remodeler. They are very nice and will look original but have the features of today's windows.
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Good idea Deborah. Andersen also has what is called a Conversion Kit for these windows. What it consists of is new sash, balancers, jamb liners, and lock and keepers. These conversion kits come with Low-E glass for improved energy performance and are much less expensive than new full-frame windows. They also convert these existing double hungs into a tilt-wash window (both sash tilt-in for easy cleaning from the inside of the home). More information can be found at: http://www.andersenwindows.com/planning/diy-library/narroline-sash-conversion-kit-replacement-window-installation. Your sizes of your windows can be found either on the bottom of the screen and/or on the backside of the grille. If you're interested in knowing the price of these kits your local Andersen Window Dealer would be able to assist you. Your windows look like they are still in great shape and have been maintained well.
4 Likes    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
That's exactly what I was trying to describe. Thanks also for pointing out the tilt feature - really nice to have. Thanks Anderson.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:05AM
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New, wood inside, vinyl outside, tilt-in and, YEAH, no storm windows ever again! My opinion is the new windows will increase the value of your home.
Love the two over two windows in the pix.
Anderson Windows, any rebates available?
rustic retreat · More Info
    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:01AM
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I would looke at Marvin Windows for a fiberglass window. I also have a brick 1972 ranch with wood windows and aluminum storms.
    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Do the retro fit on the Andersons. You will not find a better window. The new vinyls look good for a few years and then the seals start to leak, the windows lose their looks and their quality. Built a new house in '76 with Andersons and those windows in MN function much better than the 5 year old top quality vinyls put in a new residence here in Colorado where the bldr thought it was cost and weather prohibitive to put in Andersons. I'm really sorry I didn't demand them.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Contact your local Anderson rep, they keep all the parts for older windows where you can replace any worn parts, replace factory weather stripping, etc. to make the windows seal and operate almost as good as new. I have done this on a couple of remodels I have done with great success. If you want a white look you can always paint the interior of the wood window. If you wanted to replace them with a newer window, I would look at Marvin integrity windows, they are great and are cost effective but only come in certain standard sizes.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 2:36PM
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As far as energy conservation goes, old wood windows with proper weather stripping and storm windows equal new windows according to a recent study done in Vermont.

http://starcraftcustombuilders.com/windows.htm (A great summary of wood window research)

Save your money. Don't put perfectly good stuff in the landfill. Keep them and leave them be--lots of people like natural wood. White woodwork is all the rage right now, in part because it covers cheap wood and MDF and so forth. Soon enough, tastes will change.
    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 6:11PM
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NOOOOO. Don't change them. They are the best thing in the room. I would be more concerned about the flooring, skirting, blinds and lighting.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Judyg - Thanks for your comments. You are correct - no more storm windows! (I like that too!!)... As far as rebates... We don't have anything right now, but if you want to email me some information about your project or would like to discuss it further we can discuss some options - please email me at: tnielsen@andersencorp.com. Also, to everyone, another suggestion if you're looking to replace windows and doors (or other energy efficiency improvements) - check with your local utility company's as they may be offering something, and your city may be offering something too. In addition, here is a report that you may want to refer to as well - this is based on a study that is done annually on what you can expect to get back when you sell your home for various remodeling projects. It's broken down by geography, but here in Chicago for instance you can expect to get 67.5% back on your investment of replacing wood windows with new wood windows (but then YOU get the improved energy performance as well). http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2011/costvsvalue/division/east-north-central.aspx. Thanks for the great comments everyone!
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 6:58AM
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Wood windows can last 100 years or more (some are well over 200, and each piece is fixabale), vinyl, 10-20 at the most (has a very high expansion/contraction ratio), other options 20-40 perhaps. But if a baseball breaks a pane, it is a real pain to replace, and costly too. The seals are the first to go--so don't waste your money on argon gas filled--the gas leaks out in about 10-15 years. E-coatings work well in the lab, but not nearly as well in your home under different conditions, and they cut down on the light.

I would replace windows only in heavy use areas, such as the kitchen, and preferably matching the original and in the back of the house, and possibly in very hard to reach areas. or if you have picture windows and need ventilation. If you look at old houses, you often see old windows soldiering on without any maintenance at all in the attic quite well despite decades of neglect. Not sure how a modern window would last that way.

Once you replace, you are on a treadmill of window replacement required on a periodic basis--way more expensive than periodic maintenance required. If you do replace, opt for the high quality windows.
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 7:21AM
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My pet peeve on replacement windows is the folks who tell you how easy they operate without asking whether you intend to use the windows for ventilation at all. Many of the people who believe that they can't live without replacement windows sit in their air-conditioned rooms behind window treatments and never see or use the windows they spent all the money on replacing.

I know one major reason people spend money on replacing windows is they don't know how to maintain older windows. How many people know here have glazed a window within the past year? I think I keep the local glass supplier in business fixing old windows
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 9:26AM
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The Water Closet
WIndows look to be in good shape. I have the same ones at my place. We just painted all the interiors and casing and it really brightens the room up. They look like new now!
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Thanks again for all the great comments.. Also what does anybody think about changing the window trim. Would white trim look ok with natural wood windows?
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 10:47AM
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Don't change those windows! I have similar wood windows (don't know if they're Anderson or not) in my '50's ranch and I love them, though ours are not in good shape and our utility bills are outrageous! We had to replace the roof recently so that may help but I really don't want vinyl and can't afford wood replacement. Ours have been painted many times, the wood around the panes is weak and we have some broken and cracked panes in a few rooms. We've tried some scraping and re-caulking and re-painting but it didn't help much and looks terrible. Does anyone know about what it would cost to have ours re-worked? Who would I call to get an estimate on such work? Sorry Silverspace, didn't mean to hi-jack your post but it seemed like the right place to ask!
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Deborah Butler, Brickwood Builders
janesflame, you should try the sash replacements that were described above. They would be wood and could look the same as what you have, but without the issues. The sash replacements would work only if the existing frame and exterior window seal are in good shape. If they are rotten, then a full replacement would be needed. You would call a local remodeler for the sash replacements and they can tell you what is available in your area.
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 11:26AM
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Thanks Deborah. I'll call around on Monday and see if someone can give me an idea on their condition for sash replacements.
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:07PM
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The great thing about wood windows is that all that stuff can be fixed, if you are willing to invest the time. Here are some links and books.

Stripping paint is a requirement for proper repairs and the windows may need new weatherstripping and caulking. A lot of old windows aren't so bad in themselves, but the surrounding wall isn't insulated, so lack of insulation around with window could be the source of drafts.

Windows only have a 1 (single glazed) to maybe a 3 and a fraction R value for the very most energy efficient windows you can buy. A typical wall has an R factor of about 10..

Replacing window putty window isn't that difficult, and there are many resources for fixing broken panes, and so forth. Back when, people grew up learning these skills, folks broke out the ladder every fall and spring to check and for touch ups. But now they are becoming a rarity. Not that difficult, but does take some practice. There is a program in Michigan (Historic Preservation Network) that teaches young workmen how to repair windows at a rate of about one day and $100 each. I wish more people knew how to do it.

The problem could be the type of putty you are using as well. The DAP brand doesn't hold up very well.

The very best is John Leeke, decades of experience, useful tips for temporary repair, lots of helpful videos on his website, and a very thorough book)

http://www.oldhouseonline.com/window-repair-tips-from-john-leeke/ (9 tips)
http://www.myoldhouseonline.com/profile/JohnLeeke (stremlined version of his web site, good lead paint tips)
http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/reports/reports.htm (lots of videos and downloads)

http://www.amazon.com/Save-Americas-Windows-historic-windows/dp/146628644X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355004013&sr=8-1&keywords=john+leeke ($40)

Cheaper book:
http://www.amazon.com/Working-Windows-3rd-Repair-Restoration/dp/1599213117/ref=pd_sim_b_1 $12

Stripping paint:

http://www.oldewindowrestorer.com/steamstripper.html (safer and more economical than other methods to remove old paint) Basically this is a commercial grade clothes steamer retrofitted with ShopVac parts.

Do not use a heat gun near glass! The glass will crack. Infared is another possibility for safe paint removal, but they are pricey. If the number of windows are limited, you could try chemicals for the sash, and heat gun for the casing.

Go slow, and plan on working over a year or two a little at a time. Granted, it is work to do a whole house. Start with a few not so bad windows to learn, and then tackle a few harder ones. Missing or cracked muntins can be patched in with new wood or filled in with Bondo. Rotted sills can be temporarily fixed with masking tape and paint until you have time to do it. Caulk the casing one at a time.

Once you replace the glazing putty, don't forget to overlap the paint a little bit to seal the joint.

Cheap, low tech options:

And for the really leaky windows, use window film and/or use removable caulk to seal until spring. Doesn't cost much and works really well. We just leave both up year round on our picture windows--it is hardly noticable.

Even bubble wrap affixed with a spray of water will double the R value of your window, and looks pretty nice actually. Behind a curtain, it is hardly noticable. Thermal blinds and drapes can do a lot too.
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Golly! Thanks! That's a lot of good information. If I could get glazing done for $100 a pop I'd do it in a heartbeat! I don't think there's any rot but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do the whole stripping thing. 21 windows is going to take some time Id' imagine but way cheaper than $10,000 for mid grade vinyl that I hate!
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 3:32PM
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I've had good luck removing old putty with a steamer. I bought a commercial clothing steamer, but I've also used just a basic wallpaper steamer. It softens the old putty for easier removal. Plus, since it doesn't get the glass so hot, breakage is a lot less. Steam will also strip paint.

Go to a commercial glass supplier or a real paint store for putty. I use an oil based product called "wonder Putty" A gallon costs about $30 but most people wouldn't need more than a quart. I've also heard good comments about Crawford's putty which is sold by Sherwin Williams in this area.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 8:33PM
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I think I would pay $100 a window too, but I have really big windows! I think this is a really untapped market if anyone is looking for a business opportunity. There are way too many nice olf windows being ripped out all the time, and the replacements usually look terrible. New windows also lock you into particular house colors, losing all those beautiful options for the sash. It can make a huge difference in a house.

It takes patience, but once you get the house on a maintenance schedule, it won't be as bad. All that "no maintenance" stuff just means it gets crappy looking in 10-20 years or so, and then you replace it.

People tend not to stay in their house as long as they used to, so maybe that is another reason they don't want to invest the time or energy or the quality. I can sympathize. Our house will never sell for what we put into it, no matter what we do.
    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 8:53PM
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