We live in a beautiful and historic part of the country, and a lot of homes in this area are colonial gems. Older homes were solidly built, to be sure, but they were also built before we began to worry about the high cost of energy or the environment. So when it comes time to upgrade an older home’s windows and doors, which are usually single pane and framed in wood, many homeowners are not sure how to go about it. So people often ask me: What should I buy? What will match my house’s style and still deliver on energy efficiency?
The good news is you don’t have to give up the appearance and the structural ability of yesterday’s windows to get today’s hi-tech advantages. Windows today can be made to match older architectural styles yet still deliver on energy efficiency. And you don’t have to resort to buying high maintenance wood frames to get the right look either.
In fact, I wouldn’t recommend wood at all. I would recommend that homeowners choose a composite material instead, because the wood of today is not going to be the same as the wood of yesteryear. These days there’s just no old-growth wood left. Today’s oak or pine is not a hundred years old, so the wood just doesn’t have the same strength and the structural integrity.
Engineered lumbers on the other hand are super strong, so they have the structural integrity of an old-growth wood window. And there are other benefits. Fibrex, a patented, engineered wood composite by Andersen, for example, combines wood and vinyl to make a frame that is strong, virtually maintenance free and resistant to rot. It is also manufactured in a variety of appealing colors.
Of interest to owners of historically significant homes in particular, these windows can be made to match. Let’s say your home has oak single-pane windows that you want to replicate. Real oak wood finish can be used on the inside of the sash and the engineered composite on the exterior, so you have the beauty of the real wood inside to paint or stain, and the durability of the composite on the outside. And combined with the technology of today’s low-E coated, high-performance glass, you’ll get the best of both old and new.
Even the beauty of “divided light” can be achieved—you know that traditional style of divided panes and grilles, the hallmark of the colonial home. Andersen’s full divided light grilles provide a traditional look from the days of divided glass windows, but with the maintenance freedom of a composite and all of its insulating and strength features.
Even window hardware can be matched to suit. That’s the beauty of the Andersen line—you don’t have to give up the architectural integrity of an old oak window. You don’t have to give up the beauty of oil-rubbed bronze locks or solid brass locks. You don’t have to give up the beauty of a full divided light by putting in faux panes and grids. You can have all the beauty of traditional looking windows and the thermo efficiency of 21st century windows.
Now isn’t that enlightening!