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Q:"How do I replace windows in odd-sized openings?"

Sagging Bay Window
Photo by Keller & Keller

I live in a saltbox-style house built in 1762. I replaced windows in the back of the house some time ago with units that fit into the existing openings. The front windows, however, are such an odd size that I haven't been able to find replacements, and I don't want to change the size of the openings. What options do I have?

— Vera, North Branford, CT


Norm Abram replies: I applaud your efforts to maintain the original look and structure of such an old house. But unless you're lucky enough to find some matching windows through an architectural salvage yard, you'll probably have to hire a millwork shop to make new ones for you.

If the entire window does have to be replaced, including the frame, then the work, including installation, will be expensive. But if the window frames are still in good shape, which is usually the case, you can remove just the existing sash and have new ones made. This option will have the least effect on the exterior of the house and on your bank account. Even if the windowsills are rotted beyond repair, you can replace them and install new single-glazed sash without replacing the rest of the window frames. Then, to improve the energy efficiency of the new sash, you should also consider having the same millwork shop make storm windows to fit the openings.


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