How to Select Replacement Windows for Your Old Home

Jul 29, 2019 2:59:48 PM Christina Wilson

If you own an old or historic home in the Washington DC area, you've probably invested time and resources in renovations and maintenance. Many of these classic old homes still have their original windows. Eventually, the materials break down or energy loss becomes a problem.

One of the decisions you'll face is whether or not to replace the original or existing windows. If your home is in a historic neighborhood or has a historic designation, you will have to comply with historical guidelines. If you must replace old windows, here are some guidelines to help you make the best selection: 

Start With the Original Windows.

Determine how the original window reflects the period, style and regional characteristics of the building. Look at the window size, proportions of frame and sash, configuration of panes, and decorative elements. The replacement should be as close as possible to the original in the type of wood, design, color, texture, and other visual qualities. This means your replacement windows should match the other original windows on your building and those on similar buildings that are adjacent or in the neighborhood. Check to see if there are historical guidelines for your home and neighborhood.

Search For the Right Replacement.

There are many contemporary products available for replacement, and many of these can be customized to replicate the original. When you begin your search for a replacement window, you know that you want to retain as much of the character of the original window as possible. There are many suitable new windows available from custom wood window companies which specialize in making replacement windows that are appropriate for historic homes. The Old House Web’s Guide to Suppliers is a good place to start. Historic preservation offices can give you information on products that have been used successfully in local neighborhoods.

Don’t Let Energy Efficiency Dominate Your Selection.

It’s good to consider energy efficiency as one of the factors in opting for replacements. But energy conservation alone is no excuse to get rid of historic windows. Many of the old wooden windows can be repaired or restored and made thermally efficient by storm windows and other non-damaging means.

Download How to Research the History of Your Washington DC Home


Renaissance Development, a leader in historic preservation, specializes in the repair and restoration of historic DC brick buildings. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm and value. If your renovation plan includes masonry or brick repair, contact us for a free site visit and project quote.

Categories: Repair, Historic Preservation

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