Storm Windows: Analysis Paralysis

Category: Restore & Repair

After the great wood window restoration of Aught-Seven, I took a little break. And then I took more of a break. And then some more. Not from work, but just from renovation work. I would putter down in the workshop at night, but I wasn't getting anywhere on restoring and retrofitting the old wood storm windows. Not anywhere fast.


Do you notice how tidy my workbench is? That is because NOTHING IS HAPPENING HERE.

Part of it has to do with the fact that I STILL haven't figured out an easy way to retrofit the wood storm windows that we DO have. Having to rout out a 5/16" ledge on the inside edge of an old window--one that cannot easily be replaced--when I don't have a lot of experience with using a router or access to a full-size router table has frozen me with indecision. And now freezing weather (ironic, eh?) has me scrambling frantically for a solution to winterizing the windows.

But, that's not all. We have 18 old storms that would need to be retrofitted. And 11 windows without any storm windows at all. (The other storm windows are fine as they are.)

Here is where I am stuck.

We don't want vinyl storm windows for a number of reasons...aesthetics, sustainability (vinyl warps in extreme seasons over time), eco-friendliness (vinyl is not eco-friendly), etc. We'd rather not have aluminum. We'd rather have wood storms that have a swappable storm and screen for the bottom pane.

Okay, fine. I did some research and found a source for some quality swappable wood storms that are affordable. Doesn't solve my retrofitting problem on the existing storms. And, oops. I waited too long in the season to get an order together and it will take at least six weeks for the manufacture and delivery of swappable wood storms.

And it's just going to get colder here in Chicago.

So, I'm torn. What do I do? Cover the windows with plexiglass? Order the swappable storms anyway, wait it out and install them after Christmas? Order cheap and unwanted but more timely vinyl/aluminum storms and despise them forever? Huddle in a fetal position under the dining room table with my laptop and eat the rest of the Halloween candy?

I'll give you three guesses as to which of the above I am doing right now.


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Please, please, please don't get the vinyl/aluminum storms, even as a short term solution. You'll hate them. Order the swappable storms (can you list your source?) and put up plexiglas if neccessary. Six weeks isn't that far into Chicago's winter.

Are you sure you want to go with the lower screen retrofit deal? What about lowering the top sash to let the heat out? Do you have old screens?

I laughed out loud when I saw the chocolate wrappers!
What I picture you doing right now is buying that cheap plastic that you put on the inside of the windows and use your hairdryer to complete a seal... won't that work for a good ol' Chicago winter?
Don't go with vinyl, just stick it out for the six weeks or so.
We'd have you over each night to sit in front of the fire, but Seattle's a bit of a commute!

So, what about that plastic sheeting? I'm not going to be doing anything for my endless supply of drafty old windows this year, and we're starting in on a good NYC winter. It may not be Chicago, but we're already cold. (OK, so I don't yet know how to turn on my heat, so perhaps when it's actually running, my nose won't be so cold, but those shrinking plastic covers were actually looking fairly appealing.)

I have spent two winters (no I am not proud of it) with 3M shrink weatherproofing plastic over one of my upstairs windows because I just can get myself in gear to replace my restored window sash. There is only a porrly fitting (despised and soon to be replaced) aluminum storm up there now. It actually works very well (probably too well, because if I was at all cold I'd probably have replaced the sash by now). It would certainly hold you for 6 weeks. You would kick yourself for getting vinyl.

I look forward to your decision. I am in a similar dilemma - have a quote from a wood storm guy but it is just too much (would be cheaper to get bad new windows). I have a feeling I'll end up buying a few sweaters - or maybe resort to plastic sheeting - and wait another year.

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