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Window Replacement

Repair of historic windows is always preferred within a rehabilitation project.

Replacement should be considered only as a last resort. However, when the extent of deterioration or the unavailability of replacement sections renders repair impossible, replacement of the entire window may be justified. In the case of significant windows, replacement in kind is essential in order to maintain the historic character of the building. However, for less significant windows, replacement with compatible new windows may be acceptable. In selecting compatible replacement windows, the material, configuration, color, operability, number and size of panes, profile and proportion of metal sections, and reflective quality of the original glass should be duplicated as closely as possible.

A number of metal window manufacturing companies produce rolled steel windows. While stock modern window designs do not share the multipane configuration of historic windows, most of these manufacturers can reproduce the historic configuration if requested, and the cost is not excessive for large orders (see figs. 10a and 10b). Some manufacturers still carry the standard pre-World War II multilight windows using the traditional 12" x 18" or 14" x 20" glass sizes in industrial, commercial, security, and residential configurations. In addition, many of the modern steel windows have integral weatherstripping, thermal break construction, durable vinyl coatings, insulating glass, and other desirable features.

Windows manufactured from other materials generally cannot match the thin profiles of the rolled steel sections. Aluminum, for example, is three times weaker than steel and must be extruded into a boxlike configuration that does not reflect the thin historic profiles of most steel windows. Wooden and vinyl replacement windows generally are not fabricated in the industrial style, nor can they reproduce the thin profiles of the rolled steel sections, and consequently are generally not acceptable replacements.

For product information on replacement windows, the owner, architect, or contractor should consult manufacturers' catalogues, building trade journals, or the Steel Window Institute, 1230 Keith Building, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

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