Kolbe and Kolbe

Restoring a home's windows raises many concerns and considerations for remodelers. Homeowners want lower maintenance, smooth operation, and energy efficiency, but they also want to maintain a cohesive interior and exterior style. On top of that, homes in historical districts present unique challenges and are subject to special codes, requirements, and limitations contractors must carefully navigate.

Improvements to clad wood windows have led some historical community associations to reconsider previous bans against using them. "In the past five years clad windows have begun to be used in historical districts," says Pozzi distributor Andrew Harman of Millennium Millwork in Edison, N.J. "Frequently, a clad window passes for a wood window." New aluminum-clad windows even fool architects, he says, because they have a more traditional stile-and-rail construction that gives the windows a cleaner look. Concealed jamb liners also have allowed clad windows to maintain a more old-fashioned appearance, says Harman. "The key is that you don't see the modern part of the window. It conceals the balances."

For buyers who want to maintain original window trim, sash replacements are an option. Replacing only the sash and glazing is a good option, "if the sill and frame are in good condition, but the sash is energy inefficient and difficult to operate," says Paul Landgraf, remodeling marketing manager for Andersen Windows.

Weather Shield, AndersenKolbe & Kolbe Millwork, Pella, and Marvin Windows and Doors are among the companies that offer sash replacements.

Many manufacturers produce units with frames in several different wood species for applications where the entire window must be replaced. Some makers also have begun to offer units that incorporate traditional or period detailing in their features. Kolbe & Kolbe, for example, has recently introduced a weight-and-pulley double hung window, in which a brass pulley system maintains a balance between the sash and the weights, providing smooth operation.

Designed with traditional styling in mind, Andersen's 400 Series Woodwright double-hung vinyl-clad wood window features details that mimic old-fashioned double-hung windows, such as mortise-and-tenon joints, divided light and grille options, a wood jamb liner, and a classically styled sash lock. "As consumers have more and more access to information and can learn about what all the manufacturers can do, they are more aware of what's possible," says Laurie Stevenson, marketing manager for Kolbe & Kolbe. "So dealers need to be aware of what's out there."