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Replacing Old Windows

How much damage will there be to the interior plaster?


I need to replace the original windows in my 1780 farmhouse. How much damage can I expect to the original plaster walls
during the replacement process?

–Linda, Cazenovia, New York


Tom Silva replies: Very little. In fact, if your new window sizes are the same as the existing ones you should have no damage to the plaster walls at all. Even if you're going to make the window openings larger, an experienced
contractor shouldn't do too much damage to the walls. We've replaced and enlarged windows in houses with newly wallpapered walls, replaced the headers, and still had no damage to the walls. It's all in knowing what you're doing, so just make sure whoever does it knows what they're doing.
I haven't seen your old windows, but one of my questions would be, are you sure they have to be replaced? A lot of people replace windows just because someone says, "You need new windows." Yours may very well be in need of replacing, but bear in mind that just because the windows have been there since 1780 doesn't mean they need to be replaced. If they've always been there, ask yourself whether they really need to go now. That's up to you, of course. Good luck.


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