San Jose Windows More than Meets History’s Preservation Challenge

by / Wednesday, 11 February 2015 / Published in Industry News

Americans are sincere and earnest when it comes to preserving their national treasures. They go to great lengths to keep historic buildings in their original form for as long as possible. Yet, these sources of historic pride often put citizens and officials between a rock and a hard place. What do you do when you see the windows decaying away?

Wood or Fiberglass-Council to decide whether fiberglass windows are allowed on historic houses
The Farra House in Corvallis, OR is, as of this writing, in the midst of this dilemma. Built in 1903, the house was the former residence of Dr. George Farra, a doctor and businessman. The house has been registered with the National Register of Historic Places since 1981, alluding to Farra’s contributions to the Corvallis community.

Its present owners want to replace the wooden windows with fiberglass, but were initially denied by authorities. A public hearing was scheduled to determine the final decision.

A Historical Staple

Of all the San Jose windows being offered by contractors like SGK Home Solutions these days, wood is arguably the oldest. Wood was readily available to homebuilders at the time, and most homes then had wood windows, until tougher materials came to the scene. The problem of replacing historical wood windows isn’t just limited to the Corvallis structure, but also to many homes officially designated as a historic landmark house.

San Jose, despite bristling with modern buildings, have over 200 historic landmarks around the city; about 30 percent of them are for residential use. Chapter 13.48 of the San Jose, CA Code of Ordinances requires residents of registered historic homes to seek approval of the council before making any changes to the exterior.

Will Fiberglass Work?

If preservation of the look of a historic home is the primary issue, it couldn’t be that much of a concern today with technology able to improve old materials, including wood, to make them stronger. Technology, too, has allowed other materials for windows like the durable fiberglass windows to take the appearance of wood windows while benefitting from the resilience of fiberglass. On top of that, fiberglass won’t rot since it’s not organic.

If you insist on retaining as much of the original as possible in your historic house, take note that today’s wood windows benefit from advanced treatments and designs. Some wood windows have their frames encased in fiberglass, protecting wood from the elements. The fiberglass frame can be painted for that warm, homely feel and look of wood. Consult your local government regarding any structural changes you want to make to your historic home before installing San Jose windows.

(Source: “Wood or Fiberglass? Council to decide whether fiberglass windows are allowed on historic houses,” Corvallis Gazette-Times, February 9, 2015)

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