Restoring a home's windows raises many concerns and considerations for remodelers. Homeowners want windows that require low maintenance and offer smooth operation and energy efficiency, but they also want to maintain a cohesive interior and exterior style. Remodelers need windows that are easy to install and will give their clients the desired effect. On top of that, homes in historical districts present special challenges and are subject to unique codes, requirements, and limitations through which contractors must carefully navigate.

Authentic look

Improvements in clad-wood windows have led some historical community associations to reconsider previous restrictions 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."

In particular, the recent trend of concealed jamb liners has allowed clad windows to maintain a more old-fashioned appearance, according to Harman. "The key is that you don't see the modern part of the window."

For homeowners concerned about maintaining original window trim, many manufacturers suggest sash replacements rather than full window replacements. 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, Andersen, Pozzi, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork, Pella, and Marvin Windows and Doors all offer sash replacements. "If [homeowners] want to replace the sash and the glass, we offer a [tilt] sash replacement kit that includes the sash and jamb liner," says Dave Koester, brand manager, Weather Shield.

Options abound

Many manufacturers offer units with frames in several different wood species, allowing homeowners to match the interior window trim to the existing room trim. 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 style called Old World Classic, in which a brass pulley system maintains a balance between the sash and the weights.

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 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.