Windows 2.0

Decisions. Sometimes they get made only to be unmade. The window restoration idea was a winner until we found out the windows were in much worse shape than we originally thought. The price, with new custom storm windows, quadrupled to where it was well into Out of the Question territory. It seems my 100-year-old windows died about 40 years ago and no one told them or gave them a decent burial. 

This graphic from a Héritage Montréal publication called “Traditional Windows” shows common (but repairable) problems with old wood windows. My windows had all these problems but with even more damage to the side jambs. Everything but the sashes would have to be rebuilt. I guess that’s what 40 years of deferred maintenance buys you.

From "Traditional Windows" by Mark London and Dinu Bumbaru, Héritage Montréal, 1985.

So my options, in order of highest to lowest cost, were new wood reproduction units like this, new wood replacement windows like this, or a not-entirely-wood windows like this. Price and durability is always a factor but I also really wanted to follow the Heritage Program as closely as I could so the least expensive not-entirely-wood option was out. The reproduction option was almost twice the cost of the wood replacement window so that was out. There are lots of projects where the reproduction option would be the right choice, but this wasn’t one of them. It’s too bad, who wouldn’t want one of these reproductions from Wooden Window and Door Co. – freaking gorgeous.

That left the middlin’ expensive wood replacement windows. They are Norwood windows made in Scoudouc, New Brunswick. Yes, that is a real place, pronounced scoo-duke. They are located in the old Lockwood windows plant, if that rings any bells. My parents used Lockwood windows in their house 30 years ago. They were replaced about five years ago. The windows, not my parents. So that is one of the downsides – lower durability and higher maintenance, but then again my parents house is in a pretty harsh coastal environment. My mom has to clean the salt off the glass a few times a year. I am close to the harbour but it’s no wild crashing Atlantic and I can handle the biennial caulking and painting job if it’s required. And by handle I mean calling up someone to come do it for me.

I ordered the windows in mid-March and they gave me a delivery time of mid-April. They will arrive primed and painted dark green on the outside to match the originals, and the inside will be a clear lacquer on pine. I am going with the same six-over-six grille pattern to match the original window. The grille is a faker, but it has an internal grille in addition to interior and exterior wood surface grilles to make it look more convincing. The glass is a double pane unit with low-e coating and argon gas fill. The window has an Energy Star rating and a R-value of 3.45 (U-value 0.29). All good.

Kinda boring, but that's good. I want it to blend in, not make a statement.

My biggest concern these days is coming up with a decent window flashing detail that makes sure the wood window drains properly once it is surrounded by all that leaky brick. That is one area in which building scientists get absolutely obsessive because if it is done badly you have ruined the wall and the window. To paraphrase Joe Lstiburek, “There are two kinds of windows – those that leak now and those that will leak in the future.” So if I am going with an all-wood window, I will give them a fighting chance with some well thought out flashing details. Alas, I am still in the thinking phase so no details to share yet.

Here is a bittersweet photo montage of the final days of the original windows when they were removed and taken to Sefton’s shop for what we thought was surgery, but turned out to be a post-mortem. So long and thanks for all the daylight.

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2 Responses to Windows 2.0

  1. Ah, this post reminded me of the old windows in Watertown. Goodbye, heat!

  2. Maggie says:

    Hey there, things are really coming along!

    On a personal note, I meant to ask if you or Sefton kept the original windows? I have an old window collection and the small second floor window would be perfect for it. Then you’d know a piece of the original fabric had lived on!

    Let me know – no biggie either way!

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