A Guide to Replacing Windows During an Old Home Renovation

historic victorian home

Choose the Right Materials and Installation Methods to Ensure the Integrity of Your Historic House

Heat gain and loss through windows are responsible for up to 30% of heating and cooling energy use. Often, money savings on utility bills is cited as a motivator for owners of older homes to want to replace their windows.

But if you want to keep your historic home true to its past, you’ll need to carefully choose your new windows based on style, materials, and historic district requirements, as part of a complete old home remodeling project.

In this case, working with a specialized old home renovation contractor near you ensures the final results are stunning and historically accurate, while blending in the contemporary elements you need to run a modern household.

Window Materials to Use When Remodeling Old Homes

The most popular replacement windows are made of vinyl, but this material isn’t always appropriate for historic homes. Vinyl works just fine for windows, and tends to be lower in cost than other materials. It resists heat transfer and offers additional insulation. Unfortunately, vinyl windows come in only a few colors and don’t always look authentic on historic homes.

Fiberglass windows have grown in popularity recently. They function as well as vinyl windows, with the added benefit of being able to paint their frames during your old home remodeling project. Adding color is a great way to disguise a modern window so it blends well with your home’s original architecture.

Composite windows are made from fiberglass, wood fiber, epoxy, or another combination of materials. The end result can look just like wood, but it won’t rot over time. These windows are a good choice for modernizing older homes because they look like a natural material, but with the durability of man-made. You can also paint composite windows.

Wood-frame windows come prefinished or ready for your own custom finish. The wood material is often most period-appropriate for older homes, whose original windows were also made of wood. Many historic homeowners opt for wood windows for this reason.

Aluminum windows are used less often in residential applications, but they are still available. Because metal frames tend to conduct heat or cold, people prefer to opt for a more insulating material.

Keep in mind that if your home is located in a historic district, you may be required to replace windows with historically accurate products. An old home renovation contractor near you can advise on the regulations. In Kansas City, there are numerous historic districts and individual properties.

  • 18th and Vine
  • Coleman Highlands
  • Roanoke
  • Pendleton Heights
  • Scarritt Point
  • North Hyde Park
  • Southmoreland
  • Rockhill
  • Old Hyde Park
  • And more

Consider Replacement Window Styles for Your Old Home Renovation

The frame material for your new windows is just one decision you’ll need to make. Another is the window type that best suits the architectural style of your historic home. This is another area where a historic home expert could help you narrow down your options.

The most common window styles today are:

  • Double-hung. The lower inside sash slides upward, and the upper outside sash slides down. Sashes also tilt inward for easy cleaning.
  • Single-hung. They look like double-hung windows, but only the bottom sash moves, while the top remains stationery.
  • Fixed. Also called picture windows, these do not open. They offer an unobstructed view, but not ventilation. Decorative windows, like stained glass commonly found in Tudor homes, are often fixed windows.
  • Casement. These windows are hinged on one side, and a hand crank opens them outward.
  • Awning-style. These are hinged at the top and open outward.
  • Hopper-style. These are hinged at the bottom and open outward.
  • Bay. These windows project outward from a room and have a single central windowpane. The center window is usually fixed, with two casement windows flanking either side.
  • Bow. Like a bay window, a bow window arcs outward. It contains at least four windows – usually casement.

Alternatives to Replacement

If your old home’s windows are in good condition, you can improve their efficiency rather than replace them. These improvements tend to be more cost-effective, but ultimately the benefit is that it allows you to keep vintage or antique windows in place to maintain the original look of your home.

Options for your old home renovation include:

Your dedicated remodeling team will walk you through all your window options – or alternatives to replacing them as part of a holistic old home remodel.