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By: Bobby Vickers

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December 21st, 2017

Should I Buy Wood Windows?

Windows | wood windows

This article is for homeowners who are replacing their existing windows. If you are building a new home and researching wood windows, I hope to have an article for you in the coming weeks. This article will help determine the sensibility of replacing existing windows with wood windows. 

 

Say Yes to Wood Windows if:

 

1.You currently have wood windows

There are certain neighborhoods throughout DFW where wood windows dominate the landscape. Specifically, Highland Park, University Park, Lakewood, Preston Hollow, Westover Hills, Swiss Avenue, Willow Bend, Vaquero, Westlake, Southlake and a few other prominent enclaves are where most of the replacement wood window action occurs. The majority of these residences were custom-built by clients who wanted to add a personal touch to their home and architects who were happy to oblige. Decorative millwork following the classical rules of balance and proportion often adorn the walls, and it goes against the grain to insert a plain Jane window in the middle of a stain-grade Poplar lined study. 

 

2. You reside in a historic or conservation district

Doors and windows comprise roughly 30% of the surface area of walls on historic structures, so you’ll want to confirm with your local authority what exterior changes you can make. In the Fairmount District of Fort Worth, property owners are not allowed to install aluminum windows and vinyl windows are prohibited on primary street elevations and shall not be installed when visible from the public right of way.  If your district requires the windows to be restored, Leeds-Clark is the country’s best window restoration company and run by the nicest guy, Tom Clark. He and his sons truly are the best.

3. You're a tastemaker

“The outsides of houses are always very glamorous in Texas, but the insides are always disappointing,” the designer explains with his typical take-no-prisoners directness. “Why not do the opposite—a hidden house with a great surprise inside?” These words come from the esteemed Belgian designer, Axerl Vervoordt, who  worked with Betty Gertz of East and Orient Company to renovate a mysterious Dallas property. The exterior walls boast plastered brick; Flemish artisans applied naturally pigmented lime washes to the interior walls. Combine those details with Carrara-marble slabs and wood parquet patterned flooring, and a basic window with no personality will not suffice. By mixing and matching themes of the past, the windows needed to be flexible enough to accept dark stain to match the bathroom trim as well as a gentle stain to match the elegant study. Only wood windows would do. 

Say No to Wood Windows if:

 

1. You do not currently have wood windows

In seven years with Brennan enterprises, I can only count a handful of clients who have transitioned to wood windows from a different material. One such scenario involved a client in Lakewood. Previously, the homeowners installed steel windows but were not happy with the resulting sweat/rust from the frames. They reached out to us and insisted on wood windows with a black exterior and pre-finished black interior to preserve the mid-century modern exterior. The finished product was first class.                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Your current window material was sufficient for the original build, so you don’t need the flexibility of wood windows to frame an opening. If you are maintaining the size of your window openings, replacing your windows with alternative to wood makes sense. 

 

2. You do not have the budget

Replacement wood windows typically cost more than vinyl or aluminum windows and window performance is not correlated with price. A $750 white composite window will provide just as much efficiency as an $1,800 custom finished wood window. The extra money pays for the factory finish, quality control and often-times the brand equity of the wood window company. At Brennan, roughly 80% of our replacement window projects are comprised of vinyl, composite and aluminum windows.  

 

3. None of your neighbors have wood windows

If your neighbors don't have wood windows, it doesn't make sense to upgrade your replacement windows to wood.  The school of thought we follow is that you can do whatever you want to your home, but if you know resale is on the horizon, we recommend following your neighbors.

 

4. You could care less about personalizing your windows

Wood windows are great if you want them to blend in to their surroundings. If you have a mahogany lined study with volumes of leather-bound books, you probably don’t want a white or tan window garnering all of the attention. The same goes for the high-gloss finishes of designer studies. However, most homeowners are just fine with a neutral colored windows throughout the home. If you don’t need a custom finish on the interior, other materials may be preferred.

 

5. You care about the warranty of your windows

Wood windows are not indestructible and are susceptible to wood-rot over time. Most wood windows have an aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass clad exterior which is bonded to the wood structure of the window frame. Over time, the windows are exposed to temperature swings and sunlight which can cause the exterior cladding to delaminate or pull apart from the wood frame. As this happens, water enters the void and settles behind the cladding and penetrates the wood. Give it time and you’ll notice soft spots at the base of your windows that are rotten. Wood window manufacturers realize this constraint and offer a less than desirable 10-20 warranty on their window frames while lifetime warranties are available for vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass windows.  

 

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