Tips and Benefits of Replacing Old Wood Windows



In an earlier post from December of 2008 I was contemplating replacing most of the original double hung windows in our early twentieth century foursquare / center hall colonial.  Like most decisions involving personal finance I like to make a pros and cons list.   And, at the time, I started with the cons of our old double hung windows:
– Windows are NOT efficient (they let tons of air through the bottom and upper sashes and also along the side of the unit) and are single pane (versus two and three pane for modern windows)
– Windows do not have gas filled panes which help with efficiency.
– Windows are difficult to clean.
– Storm windows are hard to operate and don’t provide much functional performance
– Windows are not secure (the sash lock is original)
– Windows let in street noise
– Windows do not have a UV coating
My pros list was very short, but it included:

– Current windows do operate well
– Current windows fit with style and architecture of home
Ultimately, we decided to replace most of our old double hung windows with quality wood replacement windows.  We opted for a brand from Anderson called Eagle.   We considered quite a few windows brands included, Marvin and Anderson Woodwright.  We choose Eagle for the following reasons:
– Great value given construction and standard options (all custom sizing)
– Great U-Factor rating (the lower the better) which equaled or beat Marvin and Woodwright
– Good Solar heat gain coefficient and visible transmittance (these are essentially how much light and sun make it through the window)
– Eagle offered standard Low E / Argon filled glass at no additional charge
– Eagle offered free priming on the interior wood material (so it’s much easier to paint) 
– Eagle offered a multitude of exterior aluminum cladding colors to match our house (we even had the option of mixing up to three different colors) at no additional charge
– Eagle offered a full screen at no additional charge
– Eagle offered plastic film on the glass to make painting/staining easier at no additional charge
We’ve been living with the new windows for a few months now and have been impressed with ease of use and how much noise the windows keep out.  We’ve yet to go through a winter with the new windows and we, of course, will be interested to see how well they perform in terms of keeping out cold and wind (we’ll look at our heating bill closely).  From a summer season perspective, they have done well at keeping out UV rays and the strong heat here on the East Coast.  
We personally painted and stained all of our windows to match the existing window trim and that did take quite a long period of time (it took me 4 weeks).  The windows that were stained required some sanding, pre-conditioner stain, three coats of stain, and a single coat of polyurethane.  The primed windows required two coats of paint.
On the installation itself, we hired a local company that removed our old windows, installed the new windows, insulated, and mounted exterior frame expanders (essentially aluminum strips that conceal the gap caused by the outer window opening frame and window itself <even with custom windows you’ll get a small gap on replacements>).  
When looking to hire a company to install windows make sure to keep the following tips in mind:
1. Ask to see examples of install jobs (note how tightly the windows appear in their opening, was the old trim damaged, what does the exterior window install look like, do the windows open and lock securely, was the crew neat, etc.)
2. Ask about warranty on work and not just the product
3. Ask who is responsible for damage to interior and exterior of home, just in case there is an issue
4. Ask if the cost of removing old windows (and storm windows) is included in the estimate.
5. Never get just one quote and don’t assume lowest bid is the best
6. Ask to speak with the person who will do the actual install (see if they will be on-site during the whole project and actually working on the windows)
7. Never pay full amount before job is complete
8. Get everything in writing and have contractor sign off.
9. Don’t let your contractor remove old windows unless they plan to install the new windows in the opening (they shouldn’t board up openings)
From an ROI perspective we’ll need to wait a bit to recover our costs, but our new windows are functional, efficient, easy to clean, and make our home feel and look great.  I think they are worth every penny!


  1. Interesting post. I think replacement windows are a must. I replaced my windows with Feldco and our heating and cooling bills have gone down. It has been five years and they still look brand new. I think replacement windows are the way to go. And don’t forget about the new energy credit from the government. You can get up to $1,500 in tax credit back!

  2. Sounds like you made a good choice.

  3. Investments for replacing windows can be costly for a homeowner. However, it should be known that this investment is something that is best made before any issue regarding the window installation fails suddenly. Homeowners should be aware of the signs that indicate that the fitting is slowly giving way. As long as it is caught early on, a person can reduce the chances of experiencing major problems that can much more expensive than a simple window replacement job.

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