fbpx

Should I replace my mid-century windows?

26 min read Replacement windows may not be any better…and are likely worse…than your home’s original windows. Learn how to tell when it’s better to keep the OG’s and how to make smart window replacement choices for your home.

asymmetrical windows in brick ranch summer

Tis the season for window replacement folks to make the rounds in many mid-century neighborhoods, sharing the “good news” of vinyl replacement windows. 

And for well meaning neighbor to extoll the new maintenance free replacement windows they just installed?

Plus, it’s ALWAYS the right time of year for the contractor you’re discussing your home update with to suggest that you add “replace every window” to the budget.  After all … aren’t those originals (gasp) single pane glass!?!

So … should you?

Windows (original or otherwise) make or break your home’s mcm vibe.

Windows are one of the primary components of your home. They are part of the system of the structure and were meant to stay in place like other components – think the foundation, roof framing and walls.

Can you changes these components? Sure! And sometimes you’ll absolutely have to in case of a failure or if  you want to change the layout of your home or add on.

But just because your windows are original doesn’t necessarily mean that new windows will be an improvement over what you already have.

You may be able to repair broken windows or supplement original windows to improve function in ways that are impossible with modern replacement windows. 

Now there are times when you will need to replace old windows or even newer replacement windows. Here’s how to make the right window replacement choices for your home. 

Your Original Mid-Century Windows still have some game

Mid-century windows were designed to be repairable. You can re-paint them, change the hardware, even switch out the glass. And if all you’re hearing about your windows is that they are single pane and therefor can’t be as good as new windows … don’t forget that …

Your home’s original MCM windows likely had storm windows for added insulation and protection.

Storm windows could be unlatched and propped out like a large awning window for swinging seasonal breezes, and could also be switched out with screened windows for easy storage. Your house may still have them and – if used properly – they can really up the performance of your windows.

If you DON’T still have your original storms, it’s much cheaper to replace them than the whole window assembly!

Working with a company to fabricate storm windows is often a more cost effective option than replacement. According to the WPSC Window Preservation Standards Collaborative, storm windows have a payback period of 4.5 years compared to 40.5 years for replacement windows.

Original mid century house windows may be simple double hung non-decorated windows or replaced with builder grade vinyl, potentially losing their charm and character.

A note on Window types for mid-century homes

Windows types often found in mid-century homes (from top left): fixed pane, single hung, double hung, casement, slider, awning and hopper.

Double hung windows offer fine-tuned control over airflow, allowing for minimal stack ventilation, while sliders are often installed incorrectly and lack proper proportions when operating.

How to pick the right replacement window shapes and types

When choosing windows for mid-century homes, focus on proportion and pattern.

Avoid EVER dividing window a larger window opening into two halves or four squareish quadrants in mid-century homes.

Consider the original windows on the left and the replacement windows on the right and how they contribute to the overall horizontal lines of the home.

Instead try to create horizontal rectangles. For instance, many original double hung windows in MCM homes used a horizontal divider in each pane to create a pair of four stacked rectangle rather than a plus sign of four quadrants.

Awnings are often the right choice for an mcm home. In a small opening, the entire window might hinge open from the top. In a larger space, a combination of fixed glass and low horizontal awnings works well.

Beyond that the right choice between awnings, casement, and fixed glass depends on house’s DNA. Think about the window types your home originally had (check out old google street view images or your neighbor’s homes).

In Today’s Episode You’ll Hear:

  • Why your original windows are worth keeping, if possible.
  • How to find the right pros to repair or replace your windows.  
  • Which styles to consider if you need to replace or add windows. 

Listen Now On 

Apple | Google |  Spotify

Resources 

And you can always…

Read the Full Episode Transcript

Your windows with their style, shape, placement and paintability can make or break the look of your mid-century house.

To make a change in your Windows is both very expensive, and very public, everyone’s going to know. They’re also pervasive on the inside, the choices you make for your windows will show up in probably every room in your house.

So if you’ve got Windows top of mind right now, whether you’re wondering if you should repair or replace them, or you’re trying to make the best choice to put new windows into your old home, I want you to make the right decision for you and for your house. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

First off, should you replace mid-century windows? And then if you must replace the windows in a mid-century house, how can you choose the best ones? Let’s get into it.

Hey there, welcome back to mid modern model. This is the show about updating MCM homes, helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann architect and mid-century rent enthusiast, you’re listening to Episode 1708.

Before we dive into the details of window choices, whether you’re preserving or replacing mid-century windows, I’d love to talk to you quickly about the broader question of how to make good choices for all the finishes and details of your mid-century home. And I’m going to be I’m going to be talking about how to make those decisions and how to make those decisions easily.

At the design clinic I’m giving this weekend the topic is more than a mood board. And added I’m going to show you the methodology, not just a lecture a workshop of how to go through the process step by step from how do you find a cool image on Pinterest or an Instagram to an actual product that fits your house, your style your budget.

I will be leading you through everything you need to know this exact step by step process and giving you all the tools you need to continue to do this process. Every time you run into a decision for your home.

This method is going to make each choice easier and easier rather than running into decision fatigue where you get more and more overwhelmed as you go on. Instead, you’ll gain experience and solidify your system so that each decision you make for your remodel becomes smoother, easier and more competent than the last one.

If you’re already signed up for the clinic, that I am so excited to see you on Saturday. By the way, this might be a great time to spend a little time with your Instagram saved folders and your favorite Pinterest boards. Maybe you want to make a fresh Pinterest board and put all your current favorite ideas into it. If you’re not signed up for the clinic yet, it’s not too late.

Saturday at 11am is when we’ll be doing this it is a two hour workshop, mark your calendar and be prepared to think seriously about your house. Of course, if you’re not free on Saturday at 11, I recommend you sign up for the clinic anyway, because there will be a replay of recording available afterwards.

And if you sign up in for the clinic, you’ll be able to ask me any questions that you have specific to your mid-century house to make sure I cover them within the recording of the clinic. I put this clinic together because I want every mid-century homeowner in America to make better decisions more suited to their mid-century house. Yay. And more suited to the lives of the people that live in them. Yay.

Is that you? Okay? If you’re not signed up with the clinic yet go do that right now at mid mod dash midwest.com/clinic. So this week, I wanted to align the history snippet I’m giving with the general topic of the episode generally we’re talking about replacement windows.

But for our history, let’s talk about the original windows of mid-century homes. And it would be remiss of me bordering on negligence malpractice to talk about historic windows and not mention the Craftsman blog. This is the Instagram handle and website of Scott Sadler, who runs a historic restoration business in Orlando, Florida.

Now Scott has made a crusade out of persuading people to keep and preserve their original historic windows. Many of the products he works on are older than our era mid-century homes. But everything he has to say is true of original mid-century windows and homes that date up to say 1960 So I’m going to borrow from and agree with the point he makes eloquently on his blog post. Why are Windows replaceable? Find the link to these references on our show notes page mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1708.

But basically, modern replacement windows the average price point are now designed to last only about 20 years, which makes them barely more durable than an appliance more so than a refrigerator bought today and way less than a fridge sold in a 1950s house. So why we don’t replace our homes other components this way. We don’t need to replace the foundation, the walls, the roof structure, the siding, so why the windows?

And the answer is that this didn’t used to be the case Windows like every other parts of a mid-century and before era home were constructed to be repairable if the paint failed you repainted if the glass broke, you removed and replaced it if the roof supporting the sashes failed you removed and replaced it. This replaceability came from in part windows being more simply constructed.

They were framed into the wall with head sill and jam casing the window panels sashes the parts the move. Each had a top and bottom rail and two side styles with panes of glass in between. The glass was pressed into a niche form of the wood and held in place with tips and putty. Was this the most weather tight arrangement ever compared to a modern composite factory created window? No. But that window also wasn’t expected to function on its own to keep inside and outside separate.

On the inside of the window, people use like blocking and insulating drapes and blinds and on the outside, they used storm windows to create a second layer of insulation and protection for the house. Now your mid-century home almost certainly had windows with storms. And even if the windows have been replaced, you might still have an old rack for the storm windows to be stored seasonally hanging around in your basement or garage. Look for a ceiling mounted array of parallel hooks or little sort of hook shaped flat metal pieces, they’re actually pretty cool to see. storm windows were matched to the style and the house of the window they fit over.

They attached to the outside of the house hooking into Top Casing hooks and then latching into place below. And some designs they could only be used to seal the window closed against draughts and noise in the winter. But in others, they could be unlatched at the bottom and propped out like a large awning window for swing the season breezes and compromises. Again, it depends on the design. But in some cases, you could unhung this glass storm windows and the spring and hang up screened windows in their places. This could be switched out on the same racks for easy storage.

So when people complain that the windows in their original mid-century house are leaky, or they worried that the single pane glass isn’t as insulating as a modern window, they aren’t accounting for storm windows. And you might be getting advice from people contractors, window salesmen who are advising you to replace your windows because they aren’t accounting for those storm windows either. It might be because the original storm windows have been lost or the current owner just doesn’t know how to operate and use them properly.

Here’s the great news. Even if your original mid-century windows no longer have their storms, you can replace the storm windows without having to replace the actual original windows. There are a number of modern sources to check out and a whole lot less mess and fuss than replacing the whole window unit. I’m just going to include a link to the craftsman blog post where he discusses sources and types of replacement storm windows because he’s a better resource for this than I am.

But I’m also going to just quote him again with proof of the benefits of strong windows. He is now citing an engineer in New Jersey Keith Haberern, who performed an energy audit study of historic windows and was trying to determine if replacement windows or storm windows will provide better performance and financial savings and his findings were astonishing. The payback period, that is the energy savings versus the cost of replacement windows is 40.5 years. The payback period for storm windows is 4.5 years.

Scott has a number of sources and advice and other pieces of information you might want to check out on storm windows if you’re looking into that. And so go check out that post that is the Craftsman blog.com/guide-two-storm-windows. I’ll link to it on my show notes page. But before we move on one more thing, did you catch that number I threw out there, the replacement window payback period was 40 years. And most modern replacement windows that aren’t from the top tier of their budget options from the reputable window company are not likely to last that long.

So just sit with that for a minute. As always, you’ll find those links and more in my show notes page at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1708. All right, I said we were going to move on to how to choose replacement windows. But I want to talk a little bit more about original mid-century house windows.

Now if the original windows on your mid-century house are rather boring, simple double hung non decorated windows that are intended an interesting arrangement or if they’ve been replaced in the past with builder grade vinyl. We might imagine the worst case scenario someone took out original charming awning windows and put in vinyl double hung with a grill to make them look more like a cottage probably with fake shutters at the same time and vinyl siding.

Now you can in that case bring back a much higher level of mid-century design by choosing a more design oriented window shape and type as you replace. But what about if the windows on your original mid-century house are still original and they’re actually quite aesthetically pleasing.

Now an architect or the builder that designed that house might have for example, a front window divided into interesting proportions with a combination of operable and fixed glass pieces that really suit the design of the house before the you despair that you must replace these windows because they become hopelessly rotted due to a roof failure or the previous owners maintenance flaws.

But you’ll never be able to replace that original charm. You can you can get that original mid-century quality. If you go up to probably the highest architectural grade of replacement windows. They will be pricey but it can be done.

I watched a high end contractor designed house in my own neighborhood that had a super charming original multiple light divided nine frame window replaced and as I was walking Both my dog realizing they were taking out the original window, my heart was breaking because I was afraid they were going to ruin the house.

And in fact, they actually put in a new one that matched the original so closely that after you couldn’t really tell it was a replacement, it might have been that they just had the original window carefully detailed. That replacement window came from the Marvin ultimate line. And I’m sure it was very expensive. I know that for a fact. But it was worth it because that window was the signal design element of their house, and it was their main view out of their social rooms.

So it’s so important to think about the valuable elements of your remodel, what are the most important piece is going to be and planning to budget for those pieces. The design of your kitchen is probably one of those spaces for nearly everyone. Depending on how you use your bedrooms and bathrooms, the design of your owner suite might be one of those places, and the design of your windows.

And the quality that you invest in them is one of the most important parts of a good remodel, if you’re going to have to make a change, make sure you’re making a budget allocation to go towards the highest affordable range of windows for your house.

So I put this into our FAQ season because I get this question. All the time. I have answered this with past clients with past ready to remodel students. And in fact, right before I was about to record this episode, I got a question from a current ready to remodel student who asked do I happen to have a podcast episode or deep dive on content about selecting replacement windows.

So here we go.

Before we get into it, I wanted to talk about some just basics of window design, which not everyone has this vocabulary handy. So you want to get familiar with the windows you have right now. And without original windows that might have been on your house if you can. The clue for this is always going to be looking to other houses in your area in your neighborhood that were built around the same time that have more original features.

So while your house might have vinyl replacement, double Hung’s if the house down the street has wood windows that are perhaps looking a little beat up and you happen to know that an elderly person still lives there. That might be a guess as to what type of Windows what design and choice and size and placement and type you had.

So a little bit of window basic terminology, I’m gonna go ahead and put a diagram with a couple of these options shown on the show notes page. So be sure to go check that out if you are confused by what I’m verbally describing to you. But a number of types of windows that will show up in a mid-century house, you will have one or two fixed windows. That’s what it sounds like. It’s a solid piece of glass set into a frame that does not move. You might have a casement and that is a piece of glass that hinges from one side or the other that swings out like a door.

And the same concept in a different orientation. A window that swings out from the top is an awning. There’s a much more rare type of window that might show up in a wood century house and that’s a hopper that hinges out from the bottom or more often swings inward from the bottom because you wouldn’t actually want to design a window that funnels moisture right into an open space.

Casements. awnings and hoppers are either latched and just operate by pushing them out. This would be found in a more like a 1950s house, they might slide along a track or an arm to make sure they don’t swing out precipitously, or they might be cranked open with an interior mechanism.

Many mid-century houses also incorporate the older winning tight window type of single or double Hung’s, and these have two different components known as sashes that move up and down. A single hung window has one sash that is fixed it doesn’t move, and one that slides up usually the lower one slides up to cover the fixed portion. double hung windows have two operable sashes so the top out can slide down on the bottom part can slide up.

This gives you options to open either the upper or lower part depending on your furnishing or your privacy or to combine both sashes in the middle to get open vented areas top and bottom. Now, double hung windows are not my favorite aesthetic for a mid-century house. But they do offer some of the most fine tuned control in terms of letting air in and out by opening for example, the lower sash of your double hung windows on one side of the house and the upper on the other, you can create controlled airflow, creating a very minimal form of stack ventilation.

Hot air likes to rise, and so it may be drawn in on the low open window sides and drawn back out on the upper operable window sides on the other side to create a vent or a flow of air through the house even when there’s no wind outside just based on that differential temperature. Original mid-century double hung windows operate just like their older cousins.

They have counterweights mounted in hidden mechanisms in the sides of the window so that they should be able to slide up and down easily if they’re in good repair, very easy to operate. If they’re not because they’ve been painted shut too many times or because the window hanger counterweights have been damaged or maybe have been cut out and that space has been filled with insulation. They may not operate the way you want to. So this is something you have to think about. Is it possible for you to strip the paint off to get them back to their original functionality? It might be worth it. Or have they gone past the point of no return, and you need to come around to a replacement?

There’s one more type of window I want to discuss. And that is a slider. This is kind of my least favorite window type for a mid-century house, they’re often put in the wrong orientation into a window, they don’t create the right proportions when they operate. There are cases when sliders are the right choice. And certainly sliding glass doors are a perfect option for many situations in a mid-century house. But I would generally put sliders at the bottom of my list for a replacement window type.

What’s most important when you’re thinking about choosing replacement windows for your house is not necessarily the name of type it is. But the overall proportion and pattern, how do the windows you choose, and the divisions between the windows contribute to the overall patterns of the house? Let’s start from the what not to do side.

When you’re faced with a large opening, you need to replace a former picture window, or a classic and mid-century builder Grade Details, you get a window in a bedroom, that’s actually just two pair of double hung windows mounted side by side. So if you take that out of the house, you’ve got a fairly rectangular opening.

What do you want to put into that, what you don’t want to end up doing with your window effect overall, is to divide it in half vertically, or into quarters quadrants side to side and up and down. That type of division four quadrants is always going to lead to a more cottage aspect of the house. And it’s not going to do anything to create horizontal lines across the house, which is one of the most important design principles you can apply to most mid-century home updates.

So when you have a double wide opening in a bedroom, I don’t recommend a pair of double hung windows mounted side by side. I say this while I look at my own office windows, which are yes replacement windows chosen by the previous owner. And what are they a pair of double hung windows mounted side by side that divide these squares opening into quadrants. Do I love it? No. Am I going to replace it again, not anytime soon.

I know why the previous owner chose it. It’s the cheapest form the simplest form of window you can put into a space like that. And it’s fairly typical for the size of opening it may even have been what was originally there. But it’s not what I would put there if I had the option to replace these windows.

Perhaps the absolute worst thing we could do with a window like this is to just put a big, empty square of fixed glass into it, that would create a fully square proportion and not work at all. So what’s the right move, especially considering that what might have been there is a pair of wooden double hung windows. Well, if those had been wooden double hung windows, they might have been augmented with a horizontal divider in each of the window sashes, dividing the top part and bottom part into two halves.

The overall effect then is not four quadrants, but two parallel stacks of four rectangles. And maybe that’s the simplest way to think about smart moves for mid-century windows, we’re trying to create rectangles, not squares overall. And probably we want those rectangles to be horizontal. That is we want them to be wider than they are tall.

Not necessarily though, there are cases in which you can get an overall horizontal effect with your eye by using an array of vertical rectangles. So one potential way would be to divide up this bigger square or window opening with a series of three taller casement windows, especially if there was any other place on that exterior wall where I can make a pattern of three taller rectangles. So in that same relatively square double bedroom window, you put three taller narrower casement windows.

Or you can put a large piece of fixed glass across the entire space above and one or two awning windows at the base using an awning window at the bottom. Or, again, we’re playing with asymmetry and balance and we’re kind of thinking about what’s happening on the outside of the house as well, you could divide up the space with two halves, and in each half, you could have a fixed piece of glass and an awning window. They could both be at the bottom or you can have an awning window low and an awning window high to create a sort of Mondrian style, unbalanced offset quadrant effect. When you’re thinking about how to make these decisions, you’re not going to think on a window by window basis.

You want to look at the whole house generally, and specifically each side of the house that you can see from one side outside. That’s going to be most important from your front yard view thinking about curb appeal. But it’s also important to you if you spend any time in your backyard looking back at the house to get a proper effect. It’s also important to make sure that the windows around the house have a similar style and type so that once you get inside you have a cohesive feeling.

Every choice was made collaboratively and they all have some similar DNA even if there are different choices to perhaps have painted trim on the replacement windows and a bedroom where all of the rest of the trim has already gone painted and springing for original stain matching in parts of the house. We still have original woodwork. So how do you choose between window types? If awnings and casement and fixed glass could all work how do you choose which one to use?

Well the house is going to give you some good advice here on any well-built mid-century house no matter how modest there’s going to be some multiple types of windows and some alignment between them. For example, it’s very likely that whether you have taller or shorter window openings on any side of your house, the top edge of all the windows on a single floor will be at the same height.

So what we want to do is make sure we’re doing things with our windows to emphasize that synchronicity. Some of the smaller windows in the house mounted higher may lead you in the direction of a particular type of window, some bathrooms and some mid-century bedrooms are set up with windows that have a higher sill height, and that might lend itself to an awning design.

Now, when you’re looking at that alignment, if there’s a place where you can stand and see higher mounted awning potential bedroom windows, and next to them a living space, you might choose to fill the entire space of that larger area with a window of the same proportion as that smaller that shorter rectangle that you’ve used in the bedrooms, you might divide up the neighboring window into an array of smaller windows.

Or you might draw a line across carrying the proportion of the smaller window through with a division between window components. As you get to a big picture window, you might have a row of awnings that are the same height as the bedroom or you might offset them having fixed class across the top and a row of bottom awnings that are the same size, the same rectangle proportion as those ones that show up in the bedroom.

What we’re doing basically is forming horizontally oriented rectangles and moving them horizontally across the house, even if they sort of slipped up and down in their vertical alignment. As you balance the pros and cons of different replacement window types. Always step back and take a look at the holistic view, particularly one side of the house at a time. This is a place where even a crude rendering pencil sketches or drawing over an existing photograph, either with pen or in a digital technology, it’s really going to help you think about the way that the proportions of the window divisions you’re creating, add to or contradict the overall proportions of the house.

Let’s see when we’re talking about replacement windows. A few other things to consider. When you’re replacing windows, you can always make them bigger, but it’s easier to make them bigger in some directions and others easiest is going to be to spread the window down. To make a window wider than it is you’re going to have to think about getting into a new header space, you might have to open up more of the wall it could affect your installation your electrical work your structure. But to spread a window down to make it a little deeper than it is generally doable and requires only subtraction from the siding or the interior finishes.

This means you can also replace a window with a door. So this might be a particularly good area for any parts of the house that face towards private outside areas. replacing windows, a pair of windows like the ones in my office, for example, with a sliding glass door might be an amazing way to emphasize that this is an office in my incarnation, not a bedroom or to add an outside stepping out place to an owner suite bedroom for example.

This is going to be less true for houses that have an exterior cladding and brick. But even then, it’s easier to cut down through brick than it is to make a break opening window wider. So other decisions that are going to come up as you think about replacing windows are going to lean back to the questions we asked last week of how to mix materials, metals, wood stains, etc.

When you’re thinking about the finishes of a replacement window, one rule of thumb to remember is just say no to vinyl, really just say no to vinyl. If you’re debating whether to replace an original window in any condition with a vinyl window. My advice is don’t just spend the budget you would have spent on vinyl windows on repairing and restoring the original windows, I’m going to strongly recommend that you keep what you have.

You can spend way less than the cost of replacement vinyl windows on repairing any failures of your original windows. Anyway, no to vinyl, I cannot in good conscience recommend it. It’s a terrible material. It looks terrible. It’s unpatentable. So you’ll never be able to change your mind about the aesthetics.

And yeah, just know if you’re going to replace my favorite is to do a metal clad exterior and wood interior. But composites are a compromise option. They’re easily more rot resistant and they can perform better than vinyl or wood under certain circumstances. Have a look at them. I’m not a fan of fake wood. So if you’re going to choose an interior finish for a component window, I would probably go with a white finish on the inside. And on the outside I would go with a medium or dark brown.

If you’re going to go with a clad window my preference that would be to have wood on the inside stained to match the original trim and a metal or polycarbonate on the outside which gives you a low maintenance or a no maintenance finish. But remember, although you can paint a metal or certain composite exterior finishes, that turns it from a no maintenance finish into a maintenance finish.

So you want to choose an exterior cladding material that’s going to last not just in terms of durability, but also in terms of style. This is why I recommend and that you don’t go with white, or the current favorite right now black for the exterior cladding on replacement windows, but instead choose whatever the sort of metallic brown option is offered by this company. This is going to be the best sort of blending, that metallic dark brown or aged bronze that’s always available is going to look more close to the dark reflection color that you see on the outside of glass during the daytime.

And it loves to feel less harsh than black. So I think it’s the least visually noisy choice for an outside of house that’s going to work with a number of different siding finishes that you or a future owners might go through in terms of handles and hardware for metal. Again, see the episode that I did last week on mixing metals to find the right choices for you for your style and for what’s going on in your house.

So to summarize, if you’re thinking about replacing your windows, maybe don’t first talk about what’s going on with the mid-century windows in your house, look it over yourself debate the pros and cons, you might want to talk to some window experts. But bear in mind that the folks who build themselves as Window Replacement experts are always going to advise you to replace your windows.

If you’re looking for advice on how to repair your existing windows do not call a window company called a glazier. That is a source for the glass that’s going to go into windows and the people who work and install for glazing companies have expertise in how to fit new glass, perhaps even insulated glass into the frames of existing windows. Remember that you can always improve on your existing windows by adding insulated curtains, adding storm windows to the outside or just decided to compensate for a slight temperature loss by turning up or down the thermostat.

The costs of that energy are probably less than the embodied energy of new windows. But do replace your windows if a your existing original windows are in terrible condition, or B. They have been replaced in the past and are failing or look ugly. And they were made in a way that can’t be repaired. Remember that windows were not originally designed to be replaced but after World War Two, they became more and more commonly manufactured in a way that couldn’t be repaired.

So if you’re stuck with a modern vinyl window, if it breaks, you are kind of SOL. You’re gonna have to replace the whole window. It’s a shame but we can’t do much about that.

When you’re thinking about how to replace your windows, the most important question is not what’s the right operability for your life and don’t feel like you have to stick to just one your entire house doesn’t need to be awning windows, your entire house doesn’t need to be casement windows. You can even mix awnings and double hung’s although I wouldn’t necessarily do that on one wall of the house.

But you’re thinking overall about the patterns you’re creating with the windows you’re choosing, thinking about how they contribute to the overall pattern and shape of your house.

If you’ve got more questions about this, I’d love to hear about it. And this is the kind of question we answer all the time instead of ready to remodel. So think about showing up for the style guide clinic the more than a mood board clinic this weekend where we’re going to talk about how to make overall style choices for your house.

Or reach out to me for a consultation or to talk about Windows specifically, this is a big deal purchase. And I always want you to make the right choice and don’t thought it through really confidently before you take the advice of any individual salesperson on whether you need to replace all the windows in your mid-century house.

For this week’s pep talk, I want to reiterate this one more time, but expanded broadly beyond windows, because windows specifically, but anything around your house generally doesn’t need to be replaced just because one person told you it did. It’s your house, of course and you can do whatever you want to it.

But in some cases, you will have to make replacements on a mid-century house, it’s nearly three quarters of a century old and some components are just not holding up well anymore, or they’ve been damaged in the past by previous owners, or replaced already with less good models in the intervening era.

But when you have some original image of your house and original feature original material original windows, consider keeping it in place first, when you’re told by a professional, particularly a remodeling contractor that you must replace an original version of your house. I don’t want to armchair quarterback this. I don’t want to contradict anyone else’s expertise, but do get a second opinion.

It’s often easier for the person doing the work to tear something off completely and replace it than it is to repair it. Certainly if that’s their expertise, it’s cleaner. It’s simpler. It’s more obvious. And it involves sourcing new material which can cut down on labor for the person who’s doing the work and sometimes has an overhead that they can be charged over the purchase of items to compensate them for their labor. But that’s their perspective, yours might be different.

I would recommend that you speak to someone who can talk to you about the status of your original items, your cabinets, your built ins, your mechanical systems, and tell you that they have worked with vintage or older systems before and that they have made judgment calls.

That sometimes they recommend preserving it and sometimes they do not. A person like that is going to give you the best most objective advice about whether or not you need to replace an original item on your house.

The logic for replacing windows, simply that you’ll get better efficiency out of new windows, that’s true. You will probably get better energy performance better thermal transfer better air seal out of high end new replacement windows, then you will have poorly maintained original windows. But mid grade windows that you replace may not actually perform better than well maintained original windows, and they may or may not last as long.

Then there’s the question of embodied energy. So you might lower your heating bill by a relatively negligible amount. But the overall cost of the environment if that’s what you care about, could be higher. Plus, you’re putting things into the landfill and causing new things to be manufactured. All of which might have been completely unnecessary from an overall cost perspective.

Bottom line, listen to experts, but do get multiple opinions and trust your own judgment. Think about how your values and your choices overall in all aspects of your life align with particular questions in your remodel, and then follow your own preferences.

So that’s it for today. You can find the transcript of this episode with some images for replacement windows window types and links to those articles in the Craftsman blog. Highly recommend to check him out. Also his Instagram account with regular Sunday feature of poorly installed shutters is well it’s horrifying but fun. I highly recommend you check out his #shuttersunday. That’s shutter su s h u TT er.

All of that’s available at mid mod dash midwest.com/ 1708. Next week on the podcast, we’re going to be talking not about the windows in the sidewalls of your house but Windows you might put in your roof, skylights and solar tubes.

I get questions about this all the time and I’m going to be talking about how and why you want to bring more daylight into your house through openings in the roof. And if this makes you shudder don’t panic. Skylights have come a long way since the 1970s when there was a big push to install them and a lot of poorly quality and installed skylights were put in and then leaked into mid-century houses.

We can do better today and I’m going to talk to you about how to make the right decisions for your house and for skylight solutions. They’re next week. See you then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *