security bars on windows of historic brick homes renaissance development washington dc

Security Bars on Windows: Yes or No?

Oct 3, 2022 12:15:24 PM Christina Wilson

 The purpose of security bars on windows is to deter home invasion. Many homeowners opt to remove the old bars now that a broader range of home security options is available. However, when they are mounted in or attached to old brick, this can present an additional challenge.

Should I Remove the Iron Security Bars?

Some homeowners keen on historic preservation may prefer more modern security methods, such as digital alarm systems, and wish to remove the iron security bars on windows. Others prefer an unobstructed view or may wish to install a window air conditioner. In many cases, the security bars are mounted into the masonry window framing, requiring extensive repair of the historic masonry. Removing iron security bars in such cases is best undertaken by a historic masonry expert

Modern masonry contractors often do not have the expertise to deal with historic brick and mortar, manufactured differently from new products. Failure to use the proper brick and mortar when making these repairs can cause problems with moisture evaporation and water damage to the exterior brick and interior walls of your home. 

A historic masonry contractor like Renaissance Development LLC can use the process of tuckpointing to replace old bricks and mortar with similar materials that will preserve the integrity of your home’s exterior. 

If the iron security bars are mounted into the wooden window frames, removal may be much simpler, and your brick and masonry window framing will not be involved. However, this may make replacement windows necessary, and certain guidelines must be followed to preserve the historic nature of your home’s appearance. 

Should I Replace the Iron Security Bars?

Homeowners wishing to keep the iron security bars and preserve their home’s exact appearance can replace them with similar bars that include safety latches allowing them to be opened from inside the home.  Although most historic homes do not require these newer-style security bars to comply with fire codes, especially if there are other egress paths, it is an added safety measure for your family. 

Once again, if the security bars are mounted into the masonry, care must be taken to remove them carefully and then repair the historic brick and mortar through tuckpointing, using the proper materials. Your new iron security bars should be mounted to the wooden window framing, not the new masonry. No special permits are needed for installing new iron security bars in the Washington DC area. 

However, if your home is located in certain historic districts in the DC area, you may need to obtain a permit before altering the façade of your historic home. Contact the Washington DC Office of Planning at 202-442-7600 or visit their website for more information. 


The seasoned professionals at Renaissance Development LLC work with area clients to ensure a professional removal or replacement of window security bars and any necessary repairs to your historic masonry. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment. 

Categories: Renovation, Exterior brick

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