15 Months, 15 Companies, 1500 Hours Later

We did it. We finally made a decision on the windows. 15 months, 15 window companies, and 1500 hours of research later and we made a decision.

Here's what most of our windows look like now, plus several cracked panes of glass and glazing literally falling from the outside of the windows.
(cleaning decades of mold off the windows with a toothbrush and bleach)

And in 3-4 weeks we're going to have Jeld-Wen premium wood windows delivered and installed by an independent window installer.
At the end of the day going independent enabled us to save thousands on this super expensive investment. Jeld-Wen also happened to be the only company that offered every single one of the options I wanted. Everyone else had one or two minor details that just didn't work. I put 150 paint chips on a wall a couple weeks ago, details matter.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad we won't be restoring the old windows. It's almost a badge of honor on old-home blogs to restore old windows, and it's certainly less impact on the environment to spare the landfills the extra waste. Several quotes to re-glaze and repaint only the exteriors was going to cost more than some of our most expensive wood replacement quotes, and more than twice as much as the lowest vinyl quote. Plus, we'd still have the expense of buying screens for the windows since we literally can't open more than half of the windows in the house because of their massive storm windows.

I read for hours and hours about restoring windows, and last summer I thought re-glazing would be my weekend project this summer, but we've got other plans in mind that just don't jive with spending the summer sweating it out on a ladder while scraping and sanding what may very well be 80 years of lead paint. And forget about trying to remove the sashes from the inside; we'd have to destroy most of the trim just to get at them. I imagine that I will literally cry when they take away our old windows, but I'm sure that I'll get over it when we're able to shut the a/c off, open the windows and enjoy the end of the hellacious D.C. summer a little bit earlier this year.

Despite my angst over disposing of the old windows, we are excited about the new windows. We're a little shell-shocked by how much money we just spent. This could be our most expensive outright purchase yet, but we are fully confident that we researched this purchase to death. 15 hundred hours? I meant 15 thousand. We're not ones to count our chickens before they're hatched, but once these beautiful ladies are in and looking glorious we'll share the slightly unconventional details of how we made our decision and how we saved many thousands of dollars on this latest project.

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  1. YEAH! So exciting. You are going to be soooo happy!

  2. I found your blog through Young House Love and have been reading for a few weeks. LOVE that you took the plunge with windows. I have a 1926 bungalow in Minneapolis that is in desperate need of new windows. Only one per room actually opens and there's a noticable breeze from most of them. Try dealing with that when it's -25 degrees! Can't wait to see the finished product and hear about the decision...

  3. Anonymous3/01/2011

    Talking about the environment... I'm pretty sure exchanging the old windows for new ones with better energy efficiency will lower your carbon footprint (and you costs for heating/cooling) so much over the years that throwing out the old windows won't matter.

  4. How exciting! I can appreciate the older windows... The house I grew up in had extremely old windows but I remember the cold drafts that would magically come right through the glass it seemed. Can't wait to see all the new windows! :)

  5. These old windows definitely aren't drafty - they're painted so tight and the storm windows are so huge that there's nothing getting through! The energy savings will definitely come when we can open windows and not use the a/c for sure and as an added bonus, I just realized they have a special coating so the UV rays won't fade our furniture and rugs. I slept on it, I'm excited!

  6. Hi, I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and love your style. Congratulations on the new windows, I'm sure they will look great. As an idea to keep your old windows out of the landfill, you could always list them for sale on craigslist. I am always looking for old windows to do craft projects with. Good luck with everything!

  7. Lora, that's such a great idea. I've seen tons of window crafts projects over the years, I bet someone would love to have them. As soon as we have an install date I should do that. I was thinking of calling the old-home salvage place to see if they wanted them too.

  8. You could save a couple for fun garden art, too! We saved several of ours to make a cold frame out of. You couldn't do that with the lead paint issue, but you could still put them in an area of yard without edibles and it might be cute.

  9. I came over through Remodelaholic. Could you keep a couple of the windows and use as art throughout your home? That way you'd have something to remember the windows by and keep them out of the landfills.

    We have a lot of old windows too and we've chosen to replace them. Hubby picked out a style he liked and as we remodel each room, we will change out the windows. 4 down, 19 to go!

  10. Don't feel bad about the old windows. Think of it this way--you are installing new ones for the next 80 years of life for your house! The old ones did their job; 80 years is a pretty respectable run. I love the coldframe idea too (from another commenter). You could also take the glass out of one and make it is mirror...??

  11. I just started reading your blog. I think I live nearby. Anyway, you could use some of the old windows to construct a little greenhouse.


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