Interested in learning more
about Historic Window Restoration?
We have compiled some of the best-written
articles and resources we could find. Enjoy!
General Information on Historic Windows
Historic Window Guide (n.d.). Prepared by: the Conservation Team, Tewkesbury Borough Council.
This guide provides an illustrated history of window development in the United Kingdom from the Middle Ages to the present and a clear and concise explanation to the question, “Why are windows important?” Numerous photographs, diagrams, and illustrations are used to provide examples of styles, designs, and construction techniques of historic windows. This guide also provides a section on the history of glass and a glossary of window terms.
This website is home to the on-line exhibit “Windows Through Time”. The exhibit documents the history windows in the United States from 1630 through the 1950s by cataloging historic windows. Each entry contains a photograph of a historic window, its location, dimensions, a physical description and some historic background. The catalog’s examples are an interesting collection that show how various windows were used in different types and styles of buildings.
Windows of Opportunity: Repair - Don’t Replace - Those Older Wood Windows (2013). By Rebecca Williams, National Trust for Historic Preservation.
This short article discusses the benefits of retaining historic windows and makes the case for repair over replacement. In addition, the author provides some easy, low-cost tips for increasing the energy efficiency of historic windows and provides additional resources for further reading.
The Home of the Future? The home of the future may be older than you’d guess (2007). By James Hadley, AIA; Mar/Apr 2007: Home Economics (Vol. 10 No. 2).
In this article, author and AIA architect, James Hadley, discusses historic buildings in the context of environmental conservation. Hadley provides a definition for “embodied energy” and uses historic windows to illustrate why rehabilitation is an environmentally sound practice.
What Replacement Windows Can’t Replace: The Real Cost of Removing Historic Windows (2005). By Walter Sedovic and Jill H. Gotthelf. APT Bulletin: Association For Preservation Technology Vol. 36 No. 4.
This article discusses replacing historic windows in the context of preservation and sustainability. The authors use a scientific approach to evaluate various windows replacement options and historic window rehabilitation. They provide data regarding embodied energy values for various materials and provide a “Windows Replacement Worksheet” designed to help property owners estimate the savings (or lack thereof) of replacing existing windows with energy efficient upgrades. The issues of air infiltration, heat loss/gain, performance and material quality, aesthetics and authenticity, and ease of maintenance are also discussed.
Windows: Energy Efficiency Facts and Myths (2004). By Shanon Peterson Wasielewski
This paper makes the case for the rehabilitation of historic wood windows by discussing the various arguments that property owners and small contractors often use to justify replacement. The author provides a case study on the cost/benefit analysis and includes a nice bibliography for further reading or information. It is important to note, that the authors assumptions of the costs associated with both the replacement window and the rehabilitation of a wood window are low and do not reflect current market standards.
Are Historic Window Energy Efficient? (2017). By Scott Sidler
This article discusses the comparisons between replacement windows and historic double hung windows and includes testing completed by the Window Preservation Standards Collaborative showing different types of restoration and weatherstripping techniques and their relative effectiveness on the efficiency of historic wood windows.
Secretary of the Interior Standards
Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings; BUILDING Exterior - Windows (1992).
Prepared by: Technical Preservation Division, National Park Service.
This document provides a description of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation before introducing the Guidelines for Rehabilitation. The Guidelines are intended to be used together with the Standards for Rehabilitation to provide a model process for property owners, developers, and Federal agencies. The “Windows” section provides a brief history of windows followed by a “Recommended” section in which approaches, treatments, and techniques that are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation are discussed. Approaches, treatments, and techniques that may adversely affect a buildings character are discussed in following section titled “Not Recommended.” Photographs accompany various treatments to provide a visual example for the reader.
Preservation Brief #9 – The Repair of historic Wooden Windows (1981). Prepared by: Technical Preservation Division, National Park Service.
This technical brief explains the architectural significance of windows and provides guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, and restoring historic windows. This publication helps historic property owners recognize and resolve common issues prior to starting their window project. Additionally, this brief is particularly useful to property owners that may be seeking local, state, or federal tax credits because it recommends methods and approaches for rehabilitating historic windows that are consistent with their historic character.
Reports and Studies
Testing the Energy Performance of Wood Windows in Cold Climates: A Report to the State of Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (1996). Agency of Commerce and Community. Conducted By Brad James and Dr. David Hemenway, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Vermont; Andrew Shapiro, Energy Engineer, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; and, Steve Flanders, Research Civil Engineer, U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.
This study proposes to investigate “…the types of historic windows and viable methods for striking the balance between retaining a window’s historic character and energy efficiency.” In short, it was undertaken to test the assumption that historic wood windows can be retained and upgraded to approach the thermal efficiency of replacement sash or window inserts. This is a lengthy and scientific study presented in a scholarly format.
A Comparative Study of the Cumulative Energy Use of Historical Versus Contemporary Windows (2010). By Frank Shirley, AIA. Fred Gamble, PhD, Jarod Galvin, RA, LEED AP.
This study provides a great side by side comparison of the life-cycle costs of historic windows and replacement windows. The study was conducted in a pre-1940 house in Boston, Massachusetts and provides the total present value of all costs associated with a window system over its entire life. The study offers reasonable cost information and a great bibliography.
Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement (2016). Produced by the Preservation Green Lab.
Among the most recent reports on this topic, this report offers insight for homeowners weighing the financial and energy tradeoffs between repairing and replacing historic windows. The analysis builds on previous research by examining numerous window improvement projects and comparing them to replaced windows across multiple climate regions. This report offers property owners, contractors, and design professionals convincing evidence of the merits of retrofitting windows as opposed to outright replacement. Local municipalities struggling with the issues of repairing or replacing their windows would also benefit from reading this report.