Should I Buy Wood Windows?

Should I Buy Wood Windows?

Say Yes to Wood Windows if:

1. You currently have wood windows

There are certain neighborhoods throughout Dallas-Fort Worth where wood windows dominate the landscape. The majority of homes with wood windows were custom-built by clients who wanted to add a personal touch to their home and architects who were happy to oblige.

Installing vinyl units can completely change the look of a home meant to showcase beautiful wood windows. Additionally, if you already have wood windows in your home, you may not need to replace them all.

2. You reside in a historic or conservation district

Doors and windows comprise roughly 30% of the surface area of walls on historic structures, so you’ll want to confirm with your local authority what exterior changes you can make. In the Fairmount District of Fort Worth, property owners are not allowed to install aluminum windows and vinyl windows are prohibited on primary street elevations and shall not be installed when visible from the public right of way.  If your district requires the windows to be restored, Leeds-Clark(↗) is the country’s best window restoration company and run by the nicest guy, Tom Clark. He and his sons truly are the best.

3. Design matters

“The outsides of houses are always very glamorous in Texas, but the insides are always disappointing,” the designer explains with his typical take-no-prisoners directness. “Why not do the opposite—a hidden house with a great surprise inside?” These words come from the esteemed Belgian designer, Axel Vervoordt, who worked with Betty Gertz of East and Orient Company(↗) to renovate a mysterious Dallas property.

The exterior walls boast plastered brick; Flemish artisans applied naturally pigmented lime washes to the interior walls. Combine those details with Carrara-marble slabs and wood parquet patterned flooring, and a basic window with no personality will not suffice. By mixing and matching themes of the past, the windows needed to be flexible enough to accept a dark stain to match the bathroom trim as well as a gentle stain to match the elegant study. Only wood windows would do.

Say No to Wood Windows if:

1. You do not currently have wood windows

In seven years with Brennan enterprises, I can only count a handful of clients who have transitioned to wood windows from a different material. One such scenario involved a client in Lakewood. Previously, the homeowners installed steel windows but were not happy with the resulting sweat/rust from the frames. They reached out to us and insisted on wood windows with a black exterior and pre-finished black interior to preserve the mid-century modern exterior. The finished product was first class.                                    

Your current window material was sufficient for the original build, so you don’t need the flexibility of wood windows to frame an opening. If you are maintaining the size of your window openings, replacing your windows with an alternative to wood makes sense. 

2. You do not have the budget

Replacement wood windows typically cost more than vinyl or aluminum windows and window performance is not correlated with price. A $750 white composite window will provide just as much efficiency as a $1,800 custom finished wood window. The extra money pays for the factory finish, quality control and often-times the brand equity of the wood window company. At Brennan, roughly 80% of our replacement window projects are comprised of vinyl, composite, and aluminum windows.  

3. None of your neighbors have wood windows

If your neighbors don't have wood windows, it doesn't make sense to upgrade your replacement windows to wood. The school of thought we follow is that you can do whatever you want to your home, but if you know resale is on the horizon, we recommend following your neighbors. 

4. Personalization doesn't matter to you

Wood windows are great if you want them to blend in with their surroundings. If you have a mahogany-lined study with volumes of leather-bound books, you probably don’t want a white or tan window garnering all of the attention. The same goes for the high-gloss finishes of designer studies. However, most homeowners are just fine with neutral-colored windows throughout the home. If you don’t need a custom finish on the interior, other materials may be preferred.

5. You care about the warranty of your windows

Wood windows are not indestructible and are susceptible to wood-rot over time. Most wood windows have aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass clad exterior which is bonded to the wood structure of the window frame. Over time, the windows are exposed to temperature swings and sunlight which can cause the exterior cladding to delaminate or pull apart from the wood frame. As this happens, water enters the void and settles behind the cladding and penetrates the wood. Give it time and you’ll notice soft spots at the base of your windows that are rotten. Wood window manufacturers realize this constraint and offer a less than desirable 10-20 warranty on their window frames while lifetime warranties are available for vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass windows.  

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