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4 ways to upgrade and not replace windows

When windows are damaged, dated or if they don’t work properly, many homeowners believe replacement is their only option. Replacing a single window is costly, so it is worth considering other solutions. Here are some ways to upgrade your windows.
(Photo Creator: Korolev Andrey Source/Owner: Kingan77/Newscom/Deposit Photos)

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Windows are a critical component of a home. With proper planning, window treatments and accessories can serve dual purposes: decorative and functional.

When windows are damaged, dated or if they don’t work properly, many homeowners believe replacement is their only option. It’s an expensive proposition. Replacing a single window can cost hundreds of dollars or more, so it is worth considering other solutions.

Here are some ways to make old windows sparkle without having to replace them.

Repair old or damaged windows

Many older homes have windows with wooden frames. Over time, moisture, mold and other elements can destroy the wood around the window and it might appear that replacement is the sole alternative. Actually, in many cases, the damaged wood can be replaced and the window can be made to look and work like new.

Other times, moisture can infiltrate newer double-paned windows, causing fog and making the window seem more like a frosted shower door. This is also a fixable condition. In either case, contact an expert window professional who specializes in repairs. Chances are the cost will be significantly less than replacement.

Add shutters

You can give the outside of your home style and curb appeal by adding shutters. Shutters can be purely decorative or they can be functional.

“Properly designed exterior shutters may provide the best possible window insulation system,” reports the U.S. Department of Energy. Their benefits include weather protection and added security.

Whether you choose shutters just for their visual appeal or you opt for a design that can protect from hurricane-force winds, exterior shutters must be integrated into your home's architecture. Their mounting, drainage and hinging require special consideration to comply with building codes and to avoid drainage issues that could cause damage to your house.

Blinds, draperies and curtains

Many homeowners consider shades and curtains as purely decorative. If your goals include blocking out heat in the summer and cold in the winter, a variety of indoor window treatments can do the trick. In many cases, a combination of shades and drapes are more effective.

“Two draperies hung together will create a tighter air space than just one drapery, explains the energy department. “The room-side drapery will maintain around the same temperature as the interior space, adding to a room's comfort.”

During summer, the energy department advises closing draperies on windows receiving direct sunlight to prevent heat gain. Studies demonstrate that medium-colored draperies with white-plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33 percent. In cold weather, conventional draperies can reduce heat loss from a warm room up to 10 percent. During winter, you should close all draperies at night, as well as draperies that don't receive sunlight during the day.

Upgrade landscaping

If your windows are in good condition but lack pizzazz, you can make them appear more appealing by adding flower boxes or by improving the landscaping around the windows. Flowers add a nice touch of color and some like the year-round look of evergreens.

Your front yard is your home’s calling card, according to hgtv.com. You want to make certain the landscaping in the front of the home and around the windows is tidy and not covered by overgrown trees or shrubs. Significant landscaping improvements can be made for a fraction of the cost of new windows.

If your windows have obvious issues, but you aren’t sure of the best way to resolve those problems, contact a window expert to give you some advice and provide some options. In many cases, they can be repaired more easily and less expensively than you think.

Flint Stephens has a master's degree in communication. He writes regularly on business, financial and medical topics.