When we purchased our home back in 2003, we felt very fortunate to still have five out of ten original 120 year old windows. Unfortunately ugly triple track aluminum storm windows had been installed over top of this original feature in an attempt to make the windows more energy efficient.

Actually, though they were unattractive, we're thankful the storm windows had been installed because without them I doubt the old windows would have survived. Our house's twin next door had its original windows were replaced in the last 20 years with energy efficient Marvin windows because the originals hadn't fared as well as ours. They look nice and keep the cold out, but they aren't the real deal -- true divided light wavy glass two over two windows.

When we finally decided to take the plunge and paint the house back in 2005, we had to make a decision about the storms. They had done their job but had outlived their useful lives. Pieces were broken, panes of glass fractured, screens torn in places, and several wouldn't close all the way. And worst of all, the front window weep holes has been painted over so many times that water would collect each time it rained. The decision was made to put the windows out of their misery and remove them from the house so we could strip the molding around the windows and get a good quality paint job. Here's what our house looked like mid-project. (And what a nice reminder this photo is of how fugly our old front stairs were! More on that project here.)

Now let me say this. In order to get Wendy to agree to toss the storm windows, I may have suggested (okay, so I flat out promised) that I would build new storm windows before that winter. Yeah, the winter we had six years ago. (I'm hiding behind a chair while writing this to avoid getting smacked.) Well, I'm finally making good on my long overdue promise of building storm widows for our home. Better late than never, right?

With this blog post I am hereby commiting that I will build, complete, and install working storm windows on our master bedroom, master bathroom, and living room windows. Count 'em, that's four functional storms on windows that belong to some of the coldest rooms of the house with the draftiest windows. I'll be chronicling the process here in the coming weeks. And if you're interested in building wooden storms for your house, or if you've already built them, I hope you periodically chime in with some comments and encouragement.

Drats. Wendy just noticed I didn't include a deadline in my pledge. Okay, okay. I will complete this task by (scratching head, doing calculations...hrm) January 31, 2012! There, I said it. (Walks away from the table.)

Comments 11


12/27/2011 at 10:23 AM
Are these going to be fixed glass old storms? I worry about mounting and unmounting them.

My little bungalow has a mis-mash of fixed storms, modern replacement windows and aluminum storms over the original casement windows.

Windows are on the list - but darn far down.
These will actually be a slight variation on fixed glass storms, and we'll see how they work out. I'll fill in more on the plan as it comes together, but I'm thinking of storm frames with removable glass/screen panels. Not 100% sure yet though.
12/28/2011 at 9:25 AM
found you through yhl.... I think its wonderful that you are excited to keep the original windows. Every time someone comes to our house they comment on our 65 year old windows and how we should replace them with vinyl. I would never! I love how the wavy glass sparkles on old windows.
Hi Lindsey. We're so glad you found us...and that you appreciate your old windows the way we do! :-) As energy efficient as new windows are, I agree--there's nothing like wavy old glass in a window.
12/28/2011 at 1:47 PM
Your neighbors who replaced their windows 20 years ago will need new winodws in about 10 more years. Guaranteed.

Just go with wood frames. I've seen your other projects. You could do wood storms in your sleep. Simple, durable, longlasting, energy efficient, no gaskets or springs.

I've never had a problem with old fashioned wood framed storms and screens. They hang from two hinges at the top of the window. www.kilianhardware.com/screenstorsa.html They change out through the the window from the inside and get stored in an attic, basement or garage. The trick is numbering them. Maybe by the time you're 65 you'll be too enfeebled to change them with the seasons, but that's what handymen are for. Or maybe robots by 2072.
12/29/2011 at 4:16 PM

AWWM is an obscure blog but your tool envy will go off the charts when you see the barn full of vintage millwork machines this guy has collected and still uses. Browse the links on his homepage

Brendan, thanks for the good laugh with your enfeebled/robot comment as well as for your vote of confidence. The pics of AWWM's storm windows look great! Thanks for sharing...I think. That is until Alex decides he has a whole new tool wish list!
1/2/2012 at 8:34 AM
I do hope you will chronicle this in detail! Our home has plexiglass screwed onto the upstairs windows and it looks horrible.... We need a better solution! Plus, I would love the option to open the windows in the fall and spring without letting bugs in!!! Good luck and thanks for sharing these journeys!
I'll definitely be tracking this project. Sash windows are so wonderful and lovely, but blocking them with plexiglass from the inside seems counter intuitive given how nice spring and fall days can be. I can see why you'd want to open them :-)

Stay tuned next week as I hope to have an update.
1/9/2012 at 2:11 PM
Seeing Northern Virginia remodeling is of course, one of our favorite things. We're really enjoying taking a look at the progress of your Alexandria, VA home! How are the storm windows coming?
Slowly... Much slower than I want them to be. I hope to have a brief update next week, but this is going much slower than I want it to. Hey, what else is new?
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