A lot of people prefer old homes to new ones because of their history, character and charm. But what happens when you have to replace those old windows (which may be crumbling and falling apart thanks to wood rot) with more energy efficient ones? The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice your home’s architectural integrity or style to gain energy efficiency. You can have traditional looking windows with all the benefits of 21st century window technology. A lot has happened to windows since 1776, so let’s take a closer look.
For hundreds of years carpenters and home builders have had a distinct advantage: they were able to use very strong lumber from very old trees. These days, however, trees are only grown for ten or twenty years at the most before they are harvested for lumber. There’s just no old-growth wood left. Today’s wood doesn’t have the same strength as the fine old oak or pine that we see (and admire) in older homes. So replacing your old wood frames with newer wood frames just because you have an “older” home doesn’t necessarily make sense.
Instead, today’s experts recommend “engineered” lumber. Also known as “composite wood;” this frame material is not only strong and durable (like old growth wood), but they’re energy efficient. They seal and insulate because they won’t contract and expand (like vinyl) and they are maintenance free and resistant to rot because they are not just wood. They’re also beautifully versatile and available in a variety of styles, so you can have that traditional looking window with all the benefits of modern window science.
Moreover, advanced window manufacturing can take it a step further by “combining” the frame and sash-the engineered composite is used on the exterior of the window to give you the strength and the structure on the outside, while the real wood veneer is used on the interior for its aesthetic (or historic) value. For homeowners keen to maintain the architectural integrity of the home or for those who are required to adhere to their local historical society’s guidelines, this technique is a real godsend.
Two panes are better than one in terms of energy efficiency, for obvious reasons: it is going to take the heat a lot longer to penetrate two panes of glass in the summer and a lot longer for the heat to escape in winter.
But modern glass is even smarter. Between today’s dual panes you will find argon gas, an invisible, nontoxic gas that dramatically reduces the amount of heat that passes through the panes because it’s denser than air. And one of the smartest advances in window science is a thin coating of transparent metallic material that’s applied to window glass for insulating purposes. “Low-E glass” helps to prevent heat gain in your home by acting as a kind of reflective shield, keeping the radiant heat at bay.
Now combine these hi-tech elements with traditional styling and you have a winning combination. You can even have “divided-light” (multiple small panes of glass) windows. They are the hallmark of the older home, a traditional look that is often replicated today. The only caveat to the consumer here is to make a choice between the modern divided light window with actual grids on the outside of the glass or faux ones where the grid is placed between the glass. You do have options.
Today’s windows are smart and stylish, and they can enhance and embellish your older home, even replicate historical authenticity if need be. Get windows and doors that look like the originals with all the maintenance freedom and energy efficiency.
Gerry Rogers is the founder and president of Mr. Rogers Windows. He has been selling and installing home improvement products for over 20 years. His innovative Lifetime Performance Guarantee has earned the trust of thousands of clients by “doing the right thing” to ensure complete satisfaction when it comes to quality products and installation.
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