Home Preservation

Windows and Doors
Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

Original windows and doors are significant, character defining features of any house. They help define the architectural style, history, and age of a house. Their design, materials, and craftsmanship often reflect an era where windows and doors where built for one particular house. In today's system, a limited number of standard designs are used in a wide variety of housing styles.

Think of windows and doors as the face of a house. They contribute to how a house looks to people passing by on the street. They also add richness and style to a home's interior. Removing or permanently altering original windows and doors changes the character of a house, and usually not for the better. Replacement windows and doors look out of place and are very generic when compared to the traditional materials and designs found in Lakewood homes.

Lakewood has a large variety of window types and styles, which reflect the various architectural influences found throughout the city. Wooden sash windows, built of hard, old-growth woods, with single glass panes, smaller divided glass panes, leaded glass, or stained glass, were the most popular as Lakewood was being developed, but metal casement windows were also used.

Doors also reflect the architectural styles found in Lakewood. Original doors were constructed of wood, most often oak, with a variety of decorative panels, glass panes, and applied ornamentation. Many doors feature beveled, leaded, or stained glass windows, with their design often repeated in the sidelights. Doors were typically stained and varnished, rather than painted. Today, the maintenance and preservation of original windows and doors is essential to retaining the character of Lakewood homes.

Consider the following when evaluating whether to repair or replace windows and doors:

Repair is cheaper than replacement.
Repairing original windows and doors is almost always cheaper than buying something new and paying to have it installed. Often, homeowners can undertake needed repairs, which include repairing broken window ropes, reglazing windows, caulking gaps, and installing weatherstripping. The repair of original windows and doors requires little skill and a small commitment of time. In addition, most windows and doors are made of old-growth wood, which is harder and of better quality than wood available today.

New does not always mean better.

When considering the purchase of new windows or doors, taking a little extra time to find a product that matches as closely as possible the existing windows and doors will help keep the architectural charm of the house.

Most new windows are made out of vinyl, aluminum-clad wood, or soft woods, with reflective, thermopane glass, which is layered and sealed to create the thermal quality. Many have snap-in muntins, or muntins sandwiched between two panes of glass, replacing the true divided pane window. The seal that holds the layers of glass in replacement windows can sometimes fails, resulting in condensation and fogging of the space betwee the two panes of glass. This condition cannot be corrected and requires replacement of the window. In addition, most new doors are constructed of a metal or wood veneer over a foam interior, instead of being solid wood.

Remember that:

X  "new" may not match the dimensions, materials, and detailing of the original.
X  "new" may be made out of inferior materials that currently have a shorter, or unknown, service life;
X  "new" may not match the interior trim and moldings characteristic of Lakewood houses; and
X  "new" may not mean maintenance-free.

Consider storm windows and doors.
Installing storm windows and storm doors, along with making repairs to existing windows and doors, will usually solve the problems of draftiness and condensation on windows. The result is a more comfortable interior and some reduction of energy costs. Installing storms enables a homeowner to retain and preserve the character created by the original windows and doors.

Don't forget the basement.
Basement windows should be repaired and retained whenever possible. They provide adequate and necessary basement ventilation. If security is an issue, wood frames can be fitted with security bars or grills that can be painted to match the color scheme of the house. Glass block windows are not an appropriate design. Even with vents, they do not provide adequate ventilation for the basement, increasing the potential for mildew growth and musty odors.

Replacement Windows - Figuring the Cost

In a recent notice issued by the Ohio Department of Development, Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), the myth that, “replacing windows and doors is a great way to reduce energy bills,” was addressed. The OEE states “as a general rule, it is not cost-effective to replace working windows and doors. There are other improvements, including adding insulation, sealing air leakages, sealing duct leakages and replacing inefficient mechanical systems that may be more effective at reducing energy use. Ultimately it comes down to the cost to install the measures versus the resulting energy savings. Windows and doors are expensive and have paybacks usually measured in decades. Other efficiency measures can have paybacks of less than five years.” When considering replacement windows and doors, homeowners should complete their own easy calculations on the real cost of the project.

By using the budget plan amount for the heating bill, the percentage of the heating bill the manufacturer states will be saved, and the cost of the new windows, it is simple to figure out how many years it will take before the savings on heating bills will equal the cost of the windows.

For example, if a gas bill on the budget plan is $110 per month, the annual heating cost is $1,320. A savings of 25% (the savings claimed by most new window and door manufacturers) is $330 per year. Now weigh that $330 annual savings against the cost to purchase and install replacement windows. Replacing 20 windows at $350 per window (low-end, standard size vinyl replacement) would cost $7,000. With a savings of $330 per year, it would take over 21 years to pay for the cost of the new windows. Completing this simple calculation will help determine if the advantages of fuel cost savings outweigh other considerations, such as potentially altering the character of the house.

Repair conserves energy and is environmentally friendly.

Repairing original windows and doors saves energy and is good for the environment. When original windows and doors are removed from a house, the energy and natural resources expended to make them are lost, and more waste is sent to landfills. In addition, more energy, natural resources, and waste management are needed to manufacture, transport, and install new windows and doors.

 


The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board was established to serve in an advisory capacity for the purpose of educating, informing and making recommendations to City officials, departments, boards and commissions, and the community on matters relating to historic preservation

The Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board may be contacted through the City of Lakewood Department of Planning and Development (216/529-6630). Information in this publication may be reprinted. Please credit the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board, Lakewood, Ohio.

© 2005 Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board

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