Best Replacement Windows for Older Homes: A Guide

As a homeowner of a vintage house, you might be facing the dilemma of whether to restore or replace your original windows. The decision can be challenging, especially when considering the cost, energy efficiency, and maintaining the historical character of your home. This guide aims to provide you with comprehensive information on the best replacement windows for older homes, helping you make an informed decision.

Historical Windows: To Restore or Replace?

Many older homes still retain their original windows, which, while adding to the character and ambiance of the house, may not be energy-efficient due to age and wear. Homeowners often face the question: should they restore or replace these windows?

Restoring Historic Windows

Restoring original windows is a viable option for those who wish to preserve the character of their old homes. Specialists in historic window restoration can repair window panes, install weatherstripping, and fix stuck sashes. When paired with a storm window, restored older windows can effectively block most drafts.

However, not all historic windows are restorable. If the wood around the window is rotting, it may be time to consider replacement.

Replacing Historic Windows

Replacing old windows with modern ones that mimic the historic design offers the best of both worlds — maintaining the aesthetic appeal while improving energy efficiency. Modern windows often feature double- or triple-paned glass with energy-saving features, making them much more efficient than their historic counterparts.

Benefits of Replacement Windows for Historic Homes

Replacement windows offer several advantages, such as energy efficiency, return on investment, and the ability to maintain the historic character of your home.

Energy Efficiency

Modern replacement windows are designed to be energy-efficient. They feature double or triple glazing and come with numerous energy-saving features. This means that they offer a higher level of insulation than historic windows, helping to reduce your energy bills.

Return on Investment

Replacement windows can significantly enhance the curb appeal of your home, which can increase its market value. According to a report by Remodeling magazine, a vinyl window-replacement job was among the top eight home projects in terms of return on investment in 2023. They estimated that 69 percent of a vinyl window-replacement job’s cost is recouped in the selling price.

Preserving the Historic Character

You can maintain the historic character of your home by choosing replacement windows that mimic the design of the old ones. For instance, if your old wood windows have a grid overlay, you can look for replacement windows with the same feature.

Cost of Replacing Historic Windows

The cost of replacing windows in an older home depends on the material of the windows. Wood windows are generally more expensive than vinyl ones. However, vinyl replacements come in many customizable options, from economical to extravagant, allowing you to keep the historic character of your windows without incurring excessive costs.

How to Choose the Best Replacement Windows for Older Homes

Selecting the best replacement windows for your older home involves considering several factors such as energy efficiency, style, cost, and installation. Here’s a detailed look at what you should consider:

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a critical factor to consider when choosing replacement windows. Look for windows that are Energy Star certified. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, installing new Energy Star certified windows can save the average homeowner 12 to 13 percent on their home energy bills.

Window Style

When it comes to style, you are no longer limited to the standard, synthetic frames that scream “replacement window”. Manufacturers now offer wood replacement windows with vinyl- or aluminum-clad exteriors, providing a wood look inside and better protection on the outside.


Replacement windows can be a significant investment. According to Fixr, the national average cost for replacing a single-hung vinyl window is around $550. For a 10-window house, the cost can range from $3,500 to $10,500, with most people paying around $7,500.


Even the best windows won’t deliver the desired results if they’re installed incorrectly. Professional installation is key, especially for older homes where window frames may have shifted over time. Using the same contractor for purchase and installation can eliminate potential issues down the line.


Ensure that the replacement windows come with a warranty. The window and your installer may each have their own warranty, covering different aspects and timeframes. A typical replacement-window warranty lasts 10 years, but some brands offer longer terms.

The Style Factor: Replacement Windows Can Be Stylish Too

Replacement windows don’t have to be boring. With advancements in design and technology, manufacturers now offer a variety of styles, colors, and materials. From wood replacement windows with vinyl- or aluminum-clad exteriors to durable composite frames, you have an array of options to choose from.

Additionally, black exterior frames are gaining popularity for their depth and visual interest. Even dark-colored interior frames are gaining traction. Mariya Snisar, a renowned interior designer, says, “I love black window frames for their moody interior design.”

How to Shop for Replacement Windows

When shopping for replacement windows, you need to consider several factors:

  1. Decide How Much Window Needs Replacing: Depending on the condition of your existing windows, you might need to replace just the upper and lower sashes or the entire window, including the frame.
  2. Read the NFRC Label: Before you buy, look for a label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) on the window. This label provides important information about the window’s energy performance.
  3. Look for the Energy Star Label: The Energy Star logo on a window tells you whether the window meets Energy Star standards for your area of the country.
  4. Find a Capable Installer: Even the best windows won’t deliver the look or comfort you expect if they’re installed incorrectly. Professional installation is key.
  5. Mind the Warranty: The window and your installer may each have their own warranty, with its own terms. Check the fine print carefully for exclusions.
  6. Custom Replacement Windows May Take Longer: Replacements for oddly shaped windows or those requiring special features can take 6 to 12 weeks to arrive from the time you order them.


Choosing the best replacement windows for older homes involves careful consideration of multiple factors. From maintaining the historic character of your home to achieving energy efficiency, each decision can significantly impact your home’s value and comfort.

Dan’s Construction Services offer a professional window installation and window replacement service.

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