Saturday, June 5, 2010

Q&A: Replacing windows

Q: I want to replace the aluminium windows in our terrace with timber but discovered the bill will be more than $5000! What the?

A: Yep, there's nothing like the expense of new timber windows to make you suddenly embrace the ugliness of aluminium frames. From the 1960s to the 1980s, plenty of homeowners replaced rotting windows with no-fuss aluminium, which didn't need painting and was sold as the low-maintenance answer to timber, which would swell and become hard to open on hot days but then rattle and shrink on cold days. In the right kind of building, aluminum frames look just fine but in period houses that were built with timber joinery, they are just wrong. Even worse, those aluminium windows - especially those 20 years old or more - are a thermal nightmare, allowing in too much heat in summer and all the cold in winter. You can attempt to reduce the cost of replacing aluminium windows with nice new timber by checking whether the old timber frame is still in place. If the aluminium frame can be removed and the original timber frame is still in good nick, then you can ask a custom joiner to create a new sash window for the hole.

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