102 Years Later… New Windows!

March 17, 2012

framing, house history

…my living room has new windows!

I’ve endured these old windows for a long time. When we first moved here, we got a few new replacement windows to replace the broken ones. The remaining windows had to wait until we had the cash to buy new ones. I reached my tolerance level last year, when these old windows developed icicles on the panes in the winter and no longer kept the bugs out in the summer. It was almost better to have an open hole in the wall than these old windows!


They would no longer hold paint. I had painted them and painted them, but every year the paint peeled off. Time to replace.


These windows are not original to the house. They were installed in 1910 or so, after the builder died and his housekeeper bought the place. She did many “improvements,” such as replacing the old 9/6 windows and painting over the beautiful Black Walnut trim in the living room. šŸ˜

Garage Window

This is one of the original windows, protected behind a storm window. They are called 9/6 because they have 9 panes on the top and 6 on the bottom. Hstorians can determine the age of a home by inspecting window styles.


Well, after 100 years, the windows have reached the end of their life span. (Actually, they reached the end of their life span about 25 years ago). On with the new.

The hardest part of replacing the windows is removing the old. We have to cut through the paint seal (more like HACK THROUGH the paint seal) and pull off the sash stops and the parting stops. 160-year old wood does not like being removed, you know that?


You have to be very, very careful with this kind of job. Old timers put all sorts of toxins in their paints back then. We had to clear the living room, cover everything with sheets, and make sure no one spread any of the paint chips or dust. I frequently misted a spray bottle to keep the dust from flying around.


Another problem was fitting the window into the existing frame. The height and length were very good, but the depth of the window gave us trouble. The old sill was too narrow for the thick replacement window. Our only option was the chisel away the 3/16-inch wood off the sill.


AH! Success!

We got two out of the three done so far. One more goes in the living room, and then it’s to the upstairs. And because we had to remove the old window stops and chisel the sill, I also have some patching up and molding replacement to do. But it is SO GOOD to have new windows!


Windows are not difficult to replace yourself. Oh sure, you can pay a professional, but expect the bill to be twice the amount. I figured that our labor was worth $100 an hour. we just watched a few instructional videos on the computer, read a DIY book, and away we went. It’s not that difficult. The hardest part is making sure you measure for the new windows accurately and removing the old window…. And containing the mess!

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5 Responses to “102 Years Later… New Windows!”

  1. Marg Says:

    Wow, the new windows look terrific. Good job. Have a super Sunday.

  2. lin Says:

    How come you didn’t replace them with the 9 over 6 pattern again to be true to the house? Do you try to do improvements with the history in mind or no? I’m not judging, I just don’t know what you do with houses that old.

  3. Mrs. Mecomber Says:

    Hey, Lin, you are thinking like a renovator!! Good question. When we first bought the house, I did think about restoring as much as I could. I even went to salvage places for stuff. Somewhere along the way, I decided that it was too expensive to be true to the original form. For one, nobody manufactures 9/6 windows anymore, except This Old House. I’d have to special order and it would cost a fortune! 9/6 are also a bit inconvenient– they are bigger on the top than the bottom, so there’s less open window space for fans and air conditioners. Finally, I did consider adding muntins to the regular windows, but these would tack on another $75 PER WINDOW when I got the quote (about 10 years ago).

    I do try to stay true with certain things. I have rebuilt the Greek Revival pediment trim (the triangular trim over the windows and doors) and added some nice fluted trim for the sides. I also try to use natural materials and historic colors (no purple walls or chrome furniture here). But for the average person, there’s a line to draw between keeping it historic and keeping it affordable. And should I ever decide I want muntins in the windows, I can purchase them and tape them on the glass– I have seen the kits.

    Hope that helps! šŸ™‚


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