Traditionalists advocate restoring existing windows, while proponents of window replacements say they are less expensive and time consuming.
PROVIDENCE, RI – With warmer temperatures and the gradual lingering of springtime sunshine, many homeowners think about the eternal chore of housekeeping.
Rhode Island and the rest of the east coast have a significant inventory of older homes and buildings, many of which date from the 19th century. While these structures can be beautiful and have a historic feel, the repairs required to maintain them can seem constant.
Window maintenance is one of the most common home renovations because it’s easy to spot: Drafty windows can let in cool air and release the heat indoors. If someone is looking to change the aesthetics of their home, updating existing windows can be a bit of a fad for the home, and it is generally a quick fix.
How to repair your windows is a controversial topic in the world of building design and architecture. Traditionalists advocate keeping and restoring existing windows, while others say replacing windows is a convenient, modern alternative that is cheaper and more time-consuming.
Start with some research as you decide which route is best for your home.
“People are passionate about the idea that what they put in is better than what they take out,” said Robert Cagnetta, president of Providence-based Heritage Restoration, Inc.
Cagnetta, who has owned Heritage Restoration for 15 years and writes a bi-weekly column on home repair in the Providence Journal, is an avid restorer with a degree in heritage conservation from Roger Williams University. His company focuses on the repair and restoration of older buildings.
“A window replacement has a finite lifespan – 15 to 20 years,” said Cagnetta. “But there is no life for window restoration – it could take forever.” Many problems, such as rotten frames, damaged sashes and leaking air, can be fixed during window restoration.
In a restoration project, the window is removed and then worked on in a shop, which can take several weeks. When the work is done, it will be reinstalled at home. To replace it, a company sends someone home to take measurements and then places an order for the window. It can also take several weeks for the new replacement window to arrive.
According to Cagnetta, economy is often the driving factor in a customer’s decision to replace or restore a window. When it comes to replacements, people in general often go with a window on the lower end of the price range, he said, making it a less expensive option than restoration. However, replacing higher-level windows can cost as much as a full window restoration.
Restoring a 100-year-old window could cost around $ 900, Cagnetta said, adding that he restored 250-year-old windows. The addition of storm windows – an extra expense – can provide further protection from the harsh weather.
But, he says, some homeowners won’t see the value of paying more for restoration if they plan to move soon.
On the other hand, new windows are available in a number of options.
“There’s so much technology out there now,” said Anthony Aurgemma, co-president of Rhode Island Home Improvement, a Warwick-based construction company that manages projects in southern New England.
Some models come with impact-resistant glass that can withstand coastal storms, including hurricanes. There are also many frame options available, including vinyl, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. And there is the popular double-hanging window, where a lower inner sash slides up and the outer sash slides down, which makes cleaning easier and can improve air circulation.
Prices also vary.
“You can only pay $ 250 [for a] Windows, up to $ 1,000, depending on what you want, ”said Aurgemma.
It’s the modern features that allow for easy cleaning and not having to do with a storm window in winter that usually sway someone in favor of the new versus the old.
“Education is very important because there are so many different products out there that they can be confusing and overwhelming,” he said.
– Tracee M. Herbaugh is a freelance writer based in Newton, Massachusetts. She can be reached on Twitter: @T_Marie.