Can my historic windows be as energy efficient as new windows?

Yes, a fully restored window can be as energy efficient as a new window. This happens when your historic windows are paired with weatherstripping and a solid storm window. Here’s how it works: First, the weatherstripping creates an air-tight seal around all points where the window sashes meet or have the potential for air to penetrate. Next, the storm window adds a second layer of glass and protection from outside elements. This extends the life of your historic sash windows, and by allowing for a space between the storm window and the interior sashes, it effectively creates an air chamber similar to that of the insulated glass found in replacement windows. For more information on the products used in the process, please visit our Learning Center.

What makes my historic wood windows so much better than new replacement windows?

Simply put, replacement windows are exactly that, replacement windows. They last anywhere between 10-20 years and are thus designed to be swapped out however, historic windows are made to last. These windows are often well over 100 years old and counting! You just won’t find that kind of quality with new, mass-produced products.

What makes historic windows last so long?

Historic windows have lasted so long because the materials used 100 years ago were completely different from those used and even available today. The primary difference is the type of wood. Historic wooden window sashes are made from what’s called “old-growth lumber” or in other words, trees that grew naturally. Today, most wood found in building products is what’s known as “rapid growth lumber”. This is wood cut from trees that have been artificially planted and rapidly grown to meet the higher demands for lumber. Why does this matter? When a tree grows, each year it forms a new ring. When a tree grows naturally, it forms slowly, creating a tight grain and a strong resistance to rot and environmental elements. When a tree is grown fast and artificially, it forms wider rings and less resistance to outside elements, making the wood weaker and more susceptible to rot, weathering, splitting, and deterioration. This is the main reason why so many of the new replacement windows made of wood begin to crumble apart so fast.

Why can’t I open my old windows? They seem stuck.

Old windows often become stuck due to paint being applied over areas where the sash meets the house or the parting beads. This leads to a glue-like seal that keeps the window from opening.

Can I keep the wavy glass in my windows if I restore them?

Yes, you can absolutely keep the wavy glass. We actually recommend it. For the broken panes, we usually have extra on hand that can be cut to fit or ordered to size from around the world.

How long does it take to have my historic windows fully restored?

Full restoration of historic window sashes takes approximately 90 days to be fully completed. This can be attributed to both the detail of work that is done and to the fact that when a historic window is restored, it is done so using the same traditional practices seen over a century ago. This is one of the downsides to handmade vs mass-produced. Time is a sacrifice for quality, but as the saying goes, “all good things happen in time”.

Why does my window keep fogging up?

This is usually due to moist air leaking through the exterior storm window. This happens most often because of a loose or poorly sealed storm window causing moisture to be trapped in the “air chamber” between the storm window and the interior sashes.

Is historic window restoration a popular option? Who else is doing it?

Yes, historic window restoration is a very popular option. Not only can you find millions of homeowners who have happily restored their windows, but you will also find many business and government buildings that have been restored as well. This is especially true for many town buildings such as city halls, libraries, state buildings, and more. A few good examples of places that chose to restore rather than replace are Boston City Hall, Harvard University, MIT, The Massachusetts State House, and many many more.

Do I need to get approval from my local historic commission to restore?

No, historic window restoration is categorized as maintenance and does not require approval from historic commissions. However, replacement windows most certainly do, and this is because a replacement window is a change to the appearance of the building. Restoration is often a much easier route when planning a home renovation project if jumping through hurdles isn’t really your thing!

All I see is replace, replace, replace. Why so little on restoring?

The replacement window industry is huge and is primarily dominated by billion dollar companies. These corporate giants have the ability to spend millions on ads, market research, and search engine dominance. Like all big companies, market size matters and if the product they sold lasted as long as the old windows did, they would be out of business in no time. This is problematic when bottom-line revenue and average customer lifespan are all that investors look at. Windows that don’t last, inherently create repeat buyers. The cycle continues.

My contractor says replacement windows are a better option.

Replacement windows have huge profit margins for contractors. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most profitable projects they can do. But it’s not always about money. Many contractors just don’t know enough about restoring windows and therefore don’t feel comfortable selling a product they don’t fully understand. Try reaching out to a historic window restoration specialist first to discuss your options before making any permanent decisions.

Want to learn more about window restoration? Here are a few next steps.

Call Raven Historic Window Restoration at 1-(800)-239-7939 to speak with one of our window restoration specialists who can help guide you through the process as well as set up an in-home consultation to discuss your options.
Another helpful source of knowledge can be found by typing in “historic window restoration . gov” into your web search browser and reading through the many articles and resources published by local, state, and federal agencies on the benefits of restoring vs replacing. If you have trouble finding enough information, try adding additional keywords to your search terms such as town names, states, or government divisions to further your search for information.
Call your local building department, city/town hall, or other town authority to hear more on their recommendations and additional town resources. You may also try asking about recently restored properties in town that you might be able to view for reference.
Lastly, Youtube. You will find many videos showing historic windows being restored. Some videos may be done by professionals while others performed by homeowners/DIYers so be sure to watch a few for the best understanding of good vs bad practices.