Why Restore Instead of Replacing Windows?

As Americans, we can be fond of buying new things. But, our love for historical details, particularly things which were built well enough to stand for generations, can create a conflict. At the same time, sometimes windows in an older home become decrepit and rickety. Which brings us around to the question of when window improvement is necessary: should windows, frames, and sills in the house be restored or replaced?

Richard Moe, former President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation had a firm opinion on restoration for things such as windows and had a reason behind it. He said, “We can’t build our way out of the global warming crisis. We have to conserve our way out. That means we have to make better, wiser use of what we have already built.”

Here are a few other reasons to consider restoration:

Who is that in the window?

Who is that in the window?

Energy savings

The original craftsmanship of windows, for example, was made with future generations in mind. When old windows are coupled with a storm window, the additional energy loss on the old window compared to a new window is about sixty cents a year. That’s less than the cost of running a 12 watt LED light bulb for two hours every day for a year.


If a wood window frame is replaced with a vinyl frame, the standard warranty in the industry is twenty years. That’s less than one generation!

The windows you own now have been through multiple generations, likely without any maintenance or attention. If they’re restored, imagine how much life they will gain. In the historical context, 20 years seems like a short stint. You and future generations are better off keeping the old windows.


If the home already has windows which can be restored, there is no compelling reason to exchange it with a plastic replacement. Replacements come with a long list of caveats even if they have a ‘lifetime warranty.’ Things which void the warranty include such events as structural settlement, vibration, and even heat and humidity! The harsh reality is that every window is going to be in a structure which will settle, vibrate, and be exposed to heat and moisture.

Avoiding plastics

Plastic creates toxins. Outgassing, which is the emission of chemicals from plastic components, is an issue which can be significantly exacerbated in the event of a fire. Also. Plastic cannot be repaired or restored in the same manner as wood. So, the replacement of a material which is restorable for a material which isn’t isn’t a wise use of resources.

The Wood Doctor is the leader in wood restoration, refinishing and refacing in the Portland area. Call 503-560-5220 for a project consultation.