Doors and windows are key architectural components on a building, serving both a practical and aesthetic function. Their size and design balance a façade, and often give important clues to the age and style of a building. Doors signify "welcome," drawing attention to an entrance. Windows help to bring the inside and outside worlds together. As architectural elements, windows can cover up to 30 percent of the surface on a historic building.
Because historic windows and doors were so carefully integrated into a building's design, it is usually not appropriate to replace them. To alter these features in any dramatic way is to lose the original intent of the builder and diminish the value and historic integrity of the building.
Because doors and windows receive constant use, and are exposed to the elements, they do require regular maintenance. Proper weatherization and regular preventative maintenance are the most practical -- and economic -- ways to ensure the longevity of doors and windows.
Repair rather than Replace.
Often the condition of deteriorated wood windows and doors looks worse than it really is. Even if individual units are severely deteriorated, replacing all the windows and doors in a building is seldom necessary. Repair or selective replacement of specific deteriorated parts is the best approach. Elements such as sills, which are particularly susceptible to weathering, can be repaired or replaced without replacing the entire window. Likewise, peeling paint, broken glass, stuck sash, or high air infiltration are all problems that can be remedied, and are not valid reasons for replacement.
The use of storm windows and storm doors is encouraged to protect original wood elements, as well as increasing energy efficiency. The most basic repairs of caulking, putty and weather stripping will also make old windows and doors more energy efficient.
If a window or door is beyond repair, choose a replacement that is a close match for the original feature. Simple paneled doors appropriate to Lancaster's residential architecture are widely available. Likewise, window manufacturers offer a range of historically styled replacement windows. Several manufacturers also make custom-sized sash to match historic sash, which can be an affordable alternative to replacing the entire window unit.
- Regularly inspect and repair weather stripping, caulk and glazing putty.
- Repaint as needed.
- Make sure the joints around frames are tight.
- Caulk any loose or open joints to prevent the infiltration of air and water.
- Inspect window sills and door thresholds for water damage or deterioration.