Ask the builder: replace or refurbish? A look at old windows

Q. I have a number of old double-walled windows (1965) that require serious attention. Does it make sense to fix them so I can keep the aesthetic match with the windows, which are fine?

HMW, Newton Corner

A. We are often asked this question: whether the windows should be refurbished or replaced. We have found that installing a high-quality replacement window with all the necessary insulation and painting work is about as expensive as window renovation. Replacement windows cost more, but are very quick, while a renovation costs much less but is very labor-intensive.

My advice: install quality replacements. You can do them in phases, take care of those who are bad now and next year. Since your house was built in 1965, I’m not sure if these are really vintage windows that justify the cost of a renovation as they don’t work as well as replacement windows in terms of usability and energy efficiency.

Related Story It’s always better to replace old windows, isn’t it?

Q. I live in an apartment on the first floor of a 30 year old apartment building and share walls. I hear my neighbors’ conversations and the television. In addition, my neighbor is constantly hammering on her floor from above, which carries directly into my unit. Can you recommend soundproofing solutions to minimize the noise I hear from my two neighbors? How much noise reduction can I expect from a soundproofing solution?


A. I’m afraid there’s not much you can do. Sound is transmitted in two ways, sound waves and vibration, and it appears that you have both. Aside from opening up the walls to add soundproofing, I highly recommend putting a layer of soundproof wallboard over your existing wallboard. It is much work. The vibrations coming through the ceiling can hardly be attenuated without opening the ceiling and installing vibration damping, then installing sound insulation and a wall panel – a very big challenge. I wish I had an inexpensive solution for you.

Mark Philben is Project Development Manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions can be processed. Subscribe to Globe’s free real estate newsletter – our weekly buy, sell, and design summary – at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @globehomes.

Comments are closed.