The Cross House

Abracadabra! Windows…resurrected!

The Cross House has like a zillion windows. OK, maybe not that many. Maybe there are actually only a billion. OK. Maybe not that many. But surely there are thousands. At least it feels like thousands.

Luckily, the windows are all original. Praise the Lord that nobody in the 1970s decided to tear out the windows and replace them with vinyl —and you know how those would look today.

I will later do a post on the evils of replacement windows, suffice to say for now that it is almost ALWAYS better to retain your ancient windows and restore them rather than opt for incredibly expensive replacements. For example, vinyl windows have an effective life-span of like a dozen years. They do not tell you that when you hand over a check.

That said, I can understand why people regularly tear out old windows. I mean, just look at what I inherited:

 

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ABOVE: One of the curved-glass windows of the round tower. I know! TERRIFYING! Absolutely, shockingly, and without-a-doubt TERRIFYING. No sane person would do anything other than toss such a window (and ALL my windows look like this) into the dumpster and run to the nearest home improvement store to place an order, STAT, for nice, new, shiny windows.

NOTE: I am not sane.

 

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ABOVE: The terror continues.

I have a very odd brain. When I look at windows in this condition I have two reactions:

1) RUN! RUN for your life! There is no way — no way, man! — that this piece of rotted crap can ever be made to look even half-way decent! RUN!

2) Then there is this very small voice in my head. It whispers: Hey, what if you just scraped a little on one corner? What does the wood look like under?

So, letting that quiet voice guide me — after all, what is the harm? I am just going to scrape a little bit. Just a little bit — I scrape just a little bit.

Oh. Cool. The wood is not scary under. Actually, it looks…great.

So then I wonder: what if I scraped just a bit more? Just a bit.

At this point I am doomed.

However, do you hear the drum roll? For this is the result, below. Be prepared to gasp (scroll way down; I am delaying your seeing the After image):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ABOVE: Every time I look at a restored window my heart skips a few beats. It seems a miracle that something so awful could be made to look so good. Truly, a miracle. And a thrill! A delight! A joy!

Wow.

 

 

11 Responses to Abracadabra! Windows…resurrected!

    • Gasp is right, Betsy! Gasp!!!!!

      Yep, the AFTER image is the same window, and retaining all its original bits. It was all there under the decaying layers of paint, ancient caulk and glazing, and glue.

      People usually mistake these decaying layers for decaying wood. But give me OLD wood (old-growth wood) any day over new wood. The old stuff will last another century. The new stuff? Maybe twenty years?

      Oh, and the restoration costs approximate the replacement cost for a new, higher-quality window (except the new window will not last as long as the restored original window). If you can do such work yourself, the cost is cheap. Such work is not hard but does take some time, and requires a personality who enjoys such, well, fussy work.

  1. Way to make me jealous… but in the 70’s they’d be aluminum, not vinyl. I’ll have a photo up soon. The last of those in my house is sitting out back until I break the glass and turn the frames into scrap.

  2. I’m so glad you let that quiet voice guide you because it is a genius. I totally agree, I love the black and I hate white. In fact the white trim on my house has bugged me for years. Now that the house is mine, the white has to go. G:-)

  3. I’m surprised that the original glass in still there! I’m wondering the cost of replacing the curved glass with the same type that was used back then. (modern glass doesn’t look the same)

  4. Great job on the windows! We were fortunate to have every one of our original wood sashes remaining too. I’ve restored them all, and even my wife likes operating them better than typical modern windows.

    It’s a shame so many people fall for the vinyl window salesmens’ pitch, especially since the return on investment is so poor, even compared to leaky old windows that need repair.

  5. Amazing transformation! The window looks as good as new. Great job! Where in world would you get a curved window to replace it if you hadn’t fixed the old one?

  6. Scrape with what!?!? I am in a never ending battle with the old paint and glazing on my windows! Do you strip them first?

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