A Guide to Window and Door Replacement in Older Homes

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Although newer homes often contain advanced features and trendy floor plans, older homes also have their perks. The architectural details and lived-in charm of more mature homes are almost impossible to recreate.

If you live in an older home with sentimental value or even historical significance, you appreciate your house's unique character. But you also know that your house's character sometimes comes with a few slight annoyances too-drafty windows and doors, for example.

Overtime, you start to feel torn. You want to reduce your house's draftiness, and you know replacing exterior windows and doors will do the trick. But you want to preserve your home's original look. The tips below can help you achieve all those goals simultaneously.

1. Appreciate What Your Home Already Offers

Perhaps you want new windows and doors because you desire to make your home more energy efficient. Modern windows and exterior doors almost always come with energy-efficient features built in, but your older home likely also has some elements that help with that goal.

In warm climates like Florida, older homes often contain the following energy-saving features:

  • Window shutters that block sunlight but allow air to circulate
  • Transom windows above doors that also encourage air circulation
  • Light-colored exterior walls that reflect sunlight to keep the house's internal temperature cool
  • Porches, balconies, awnings, and large roof overhangs that block sunlight from streaming directly into windows and glass doors

Consider which of these features your home already has. You may want to concentrate on replacing windows and doors that sit farther away from these features. Those openings tend to be the least energy efficient in older homes.

2. Preserve Original Frames As Much As Possible

Window and door frames built before 1950 are mostly made with dense wood. These wood planks resist rotting and warping, and they often absorb paint well. All these qualities make older wood valuable, so many homeowners choose to upgrade and update around the original frames.

If you want to preserve an original frame, have a window replacement specialist examine your windows and doors. They may recommend that you take some or all of the following steps:

  • Replace any damaged wood in the frame.
  • Replace older glass with energy-efficient panes.
  • Replace complete windows or doors with custom units that fit inside the existing frame.
  • Add weather stripping around the individual glass panes.
  • Caulk inside and outside to stop air leakage around the frame.

These steps can amp up your home's energy efficiency while keeping many original parts and pieces intact.

3. Mimic the Original Look

If you do have to replace entire windows or exterior doors, it's still possible to maintain the look of the home's original features. You just have to select a replacement that mimics the style of the existing pieces.

To do this, work with a window and door company that offers a wide array of brands. Then, you'll have plenty of options for recreating or reimagining the original windows and doors.

Your window and door team may also have additional tools that help you achieve the look you want. For example, the Provia Visualizer website allows you to upload a picture of your own home. You then virtually apply frame colors, window grids, glass types, door styles, and other features to test what your home will look like. Tools like this site make it simple to choose replacements that look impressively similar to the originals.

4. Keep the Old Hardware

Some of the most beautiful parts of older doors and windows are the original hardware. Doors in particular carry doorknobs, locks, and hinges that showcase a home's uniqueness. Even if you replace a door, you can save these elements and use them on the new door.

Older door hardware can become worn with age. However, in many cases, a simple cleaning reveals much of the original shine of beautiful vintage and antique door hardware. Start by using a sponge and a mild detergent to wipe off surface-level grime. Then, apply a cleanser or polish suited to the material, such as a brass polish. If the hardware is painted, you can strip the paint layers off with hot water and soap, a heat gun, or a paint-stripping solution.

If you plan to use old hardware, inform your door replacement professional early in the process. He or she will make sure your new door gets cut to fit the old pieces. You may also want to have a locksmith examine the old doorknobs and deadbolts to ensure that they protect your home from intruders.

Are you ready to enhance the energy efficiency of your older home? Look no further than your doors and windows. Apply the tips above, and you can maintain your house's authentic feel while still enjoying the benefits of modern window and door technology.

If you have additional questions about your older home's windows and doors, give us a call today!

Alexandra 4/5/2016

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