Buying Replacement Windows

Dear NH,
Maybe you can help me. I recently bought a house that has 27 double hung single pane wood windows. It's a 1920's-30's craftsman bungalow. I hired a lead abatement company to remove the chipping lead paint from the woodwork in the house, including the windows. They messed up pretty badly and in addition to not removing all of the lead, they ruined all of the woodwork including the windows. The wood was the original long leaf pine and the windows are wrecked.

I had priced having all of the windows rebuilt and the person recommended either mahogany or Spanish cedar (or maybe it was cypress). Anyhow, we need to replace all of the other wood in the house too including the casings for the windows and doors. The cost of doing this in mahogany is tremendous. Someone told me that you can buy these windows in wood, new. Do you know of a good supplier? Or, if you have information regarding the advice I have been given with regards to the wood choices, please feel free to let me know. I've been told that these two woods are extremely rot and insect resistant which is why he uses them for rebuilding windows. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
KK from Houston, TX

Dear KK,
Using such expensive woods is unnecessary unless there is an aesthetic reason why you would want to use them. Most new windows are treated with preservatives... that plus a coat or two of stain or paint will adequately protect them. This is not to say that some of the more durable woods have no advantages... it is just a matter of dollars. I agree with the window builder... if you are going to pay (dearly) for custom windows it makes sense to use the best possible wood for the usage circumstances!

Have you investigated ordering new manufactured pine window sashes and replacement balances (the track mechanism that holds the windows in the frame and also keeps them at the opening height you desire)? This keeps carpentry to a minimum since you do not have to remove the window frames or mouldings... just the old sash, stops and balances. You could use a replacement window kit, but they are pretty much all vinyl coated... if you want real wood, ordering individual sash is the way to go.

Most any lumberyard can order replacement window sash in a wide variety of sizes. They also have catalogs to help you choose the best product. Odds are you really don't have to get custom windows made. You can also have the advantages of a modern replacement balance. You can even get balances that will allow your windows to tilt in for easy cleaning.

copyright 2000 G.G. Alonzy

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