New Wood Windows Will Maintain the Charm of Your Old House

Jim Mallery

You've read the arguments, looked at the pros and cons, and have decided you will stay with wood windows on your old house.

While it's true vinyl windows cost less, last longer, require almost no maintenance and don't weep, wood windows have more class. They will maintain architectural integrity and rustic character of your old house.

Wood Window Installation

What do you need to know about your new wood windows?

First of all, wood window installation is much the same as vinyl windows. The window should have specific installation instructions you should read and follow carefully. In general, you need to guarantee that the rough framing is square and plumb, and especially that the sill is level. The rough framing needs to be wrapped with a moisture barrier (overlapping so that the moisture does not get under it to the sheathing). Then, the top moisture barrier folds down after the window is installed.

Liberal caulking needs to be applied, and the flange nailed every 6" or so.

Special Handling

While wood window installation is similar to other types of window installation, there are some special considerations with them.

Wood windows must be handled with kid gloves--literally. You don't want to nick or scratch the wood. And because you will be putting a finish on the wood frames, you want to keep them as clean as possible. A workman's hands can be covered with grease and grime, which will transfer to the wood, eventually degrading the quality of the finish.

Polyurethane, a common finish for windows, absolutely will not adhere to wood contaminated with latex, and since your windows probably have been liberally caulked with latex caulking, the problems are obvious.

Also, wood windows are a little more likely to get knocked out of square, so they should be handled extra gently. After they have been set in the rough framing, but before nailing, they should be double-checked for square by making sure the diagonal distance from corner to corner is equal.

Wood windows aren't tricky; they just cost more and take much more attention. But they will help your old house retain its stature and dignity.

About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding homes.

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