Do wooden replacement windows add significantly to resale value, or are premium vinyl replacements good enough?

Asked by Jbozek1, Sun Feb 3, 2013

We have old wooden windows of various ages (none original to the 1855 building). We live in a one-bedroom condo in Cambridgeport & are primarily concerned with energy efficiency/heat retention. We prefer the look of wood interiors, but can't afford to replace all windows now if we go the wood route. Also, we wonder if it's over-improving.

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Ellen Friedm…, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Mon Feb 4, 2013
Not that it's particularly relevant but the windows I replaced were vinyl and had been installed by the previous owner. If I had original windows I would have done my best to have them restored.
1 vote
I'm not sure if wooden windows make that much of a difference. If I were you, I would call a window replacement company and see what they suggest. They will know all of the home value prices and what will work best for your specific home. I think this will be your best option!
Flag Fri Nov 21, 2014
Green Home T…, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
Given my company--GreenHome Realty---you can guess that I fall on the wooden window side. I suggest you look into not replacing, but renovating your older wooden windows. Check out It's usually around $400 a window for them to totally renew your old windows replacing the rope with chain and sanding down the sash etc. If you have good storm windows their energy saving value is actually higher because the air cushion is larger...think this way... double pane windows work because of the slim vapor barrier between the panes...that's what holds the heat. Storm windows and refurbished wood windows with proper insulation can actually provide more of a vapor barrier.

The only advantage for vinyl replacement windows is the ease of cleaning..the ability to tip them in. Otherwise they are inferior. Your wooden windows are old and still useful and attractive. Vinyl windows will be junk in 25 years. The seals fail, the vinyl dries and cracks, the frames warp. Junk. Probably some of your wood windows are hardwood windows...these aren't even made wood windows are soft wood. Hard wood windows like your will never be made again! Preserve them!
1 vote
I really like the look of wooden replacement windows. If I were buying a home, I would definitely check that. I think I would buy the house regardless, but having wooden ones would help make the decision a lot easier.
Flag Mon Jan 19, 2015
Damian is so right here, Vinyl windows are ugly and in my opinion lower the value of your home. Wood windows are so much better looking and like anything need to be cared for, but will out last vinyl 200 to 1. Remember vinyl is plastic and breaks down with sunlight, where as look a wood, you can still find 300 year old windows still working fine.
Flag Mon Aug 18, 2014
Celine Sande…, Home Buyer, Walla Walla, WA
Mon May 11, 2015
Wow, Cambridgeport would be such a nice place to live, especially having a condo out there! If you're looking for ways to have green energy to not use as much energy on a daily basis, it can mostly be due to cool or hot air seeping through your windows and doors. Just having those small cracks that aren't sealed right, or having windows that don't retain the temperature of the inside air can really take a tole on your energy bill. I'd suggest to get new windows and ask for energy efficient windows to keep the good temperature in and the bad ones outside. Once you get the windows installed, another way to save on energy is to use drapery and shades to block the window as well. Those two things will attribute to a green energy solution!
0 votes
Caleb Hart, Renter, Orem, UT
Wed Apr 1, 2015
I suppose it just depends on the buyers in your area. There are a lot of people that like that kind of thing though. See if you can talk to a real estate agent. They seem to know what stuff sells and what doesn't.…
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Jackson Will…, Home Buyer, Provo, UT
Thu Jan 8, 2015
I don't think there's any significant difference in the value of either one. If you are looking into the replacements for yourself, you should try to save some money and get the wood. If you are looking to sell it, there's no exact value involved that definitely makes it better.
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Calvin James, Home Buyer, Orem, UT
Sat Dec 20, 2014
I love timber windows. That's just me personally though. They give a very rustic look which I prefer. Other people may like a more mainstream or modern look though in which case vinyl would be better. It's up to you!
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Eugene Dean, Home Buyer, Provo, UT
Mon Oct 6, 2014
I think that timber windows are a great option. For the sake of energy efficiency, you probably want to replace your old ones. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go with vinyl. I don't know if that would look good on your home.
0 votes
Does the wooden window sills match the rest of the house? I feel like you would need to decide if they match before putting them in. It's going to hurt the value of your house if you install windows that don't match the style of the house.
Flag Tue Dec 16, 2014
Tim Johnson, Home Buyer, Provo, UT
Tue Aug 5, 2014
I don't think that it's over-improving at all. I agree that the wood interiors are a great way to go, and you should be able to with your replacement windows. I'd say keep saving for a bit and go for it the way you want it. If you don't, you won't be satisfied with how it looks.
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Green Home T…, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Wed Dec 18, 2013
I am passionate about this. Vinyl windows are junk. They will last 20-25 years and then need to be replaced, adding to the waste stream and necessitating consumption of more inferior windows. I regularly, during home inspections, come across vinyl windows with failed gaskets, warped frames, broken springs...etc. Your wooden windows, though not original to the building, will, with proper care, last another hundred years. For homes with windows from the late 1800's to early 1900's, these are valuable hard wood windows. Even new windows are not hard wood anymore. Old wooden windows simply need to be taken out of the frame, sanded, maybe restrung with copper chain, and put back together. There are classes to teach you how to do this yourself or people will come and do it for you. Check out They taught me and I did my own windows. The windows work/look great and it was fun!
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James Daniel, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Thu Nov 14, 2013
Great question. Here is a fantastic resource that you can use s a guide. It's Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs Value Report. It lists what the average cost is, in 4 different areas of the country. It will also give you the average rate of return of Wood vs Vinyl.

Your personal choice is the most important guideline, in my opinion. Something else to consider is, does your condo association make a reference in your Condo Docs?
0 votes
I don't think it would add a significant amount to your houses value to put in new replacement windows. I think it will help sell your house off faster. Buyers really like to see new and updated houses. I think it's a good idea.
Flag Sat Nov 22, 2014
Susan Henley, Agent, Bryn Mawr, PA
Tue Aug 13, 2013
New replacement windows will add to the resale value of your home. The cost of wooden replacement windows is significantly higher than vinyl replacement windows. In my experience, a Buyer and/or appraiser will add value for newer replacement windows but not enough to make up for the cost difference for the wooden replacement windows.
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Joseph Hasti…, Agent, Bayside, NY
Thu May 16, 2013
I'm not local to your area but I wanted to respond. While it's nice to think the new windows will add value, I would give you a word of caution as to what you can expect. You'll probably not get what you think the value added is. In fact based on comparable units in the Condo when you decide to sell, the new windows may have virtually no impact on value.

Appraisers are extremely cautious and will keep value tied into the building. they may not take into consideration the quality, floor height, other amenities or percieved market value. They will most likely stay with the lowest comps they can find. That being said, you might get appraised at the same price as a unit in estate condition (estate condition = it might look like somone lived there for 40 years and never upgraded anything). This is troubling in a market that, based on everything you read these days, is on the uptick.

Go for the upgrade for your own satisfaction and pride of ownership. The natural market appreciation will help with value over time. Good luck.
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Jbozek1, Home Buyer,
Tue Feb 5, 2013
Thanks, everyone. We have are looking into restoration, which fits in with our aesthetics & ethics much better than a bunch of new vinyl windows, however energy efficient.
0 votes
Ellen Friedm…, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
I agree with Damian that it might be best to renovate your existing windows, although if you go that route you will probably also want storm windows. If that does not work you should look into Harvey wood windows, which are aluminum-clad on the outside. I replaced all of my windows with those a few years ago and don't think I paid more than about $500 a window, possibly less. Anderson also has wood windows with a vinyl or aluminum clad exterior. You definitely do not want vinyl windows--even the best ones are pretty crappy and definitely do not age well.

Ellen G. Friedman, Keller Williams Realty, Cambridge
0 votes
Yanoska Diaz, Agent, Miami, FL
Sun Feb 3, 2013
As far as adding resale value, that very much depends on identifying the most probable purchaser and the over-all condition of the rest of the unit. Once you analyze those two factor you will be able to determine if to spend the extra money or selling as-is.
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Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
I prefer the Vinyl; they are easier to clean and they do not swell and contract with temp.
0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sun Feb 3, 2013
If you were looking at a features list of two properties with the windows being the only difference:
House A .........................House B
Double Pane....................Original wooden
There would be a clear, positive, value perception regarding House A.
In cold or noisy environments, the value goes even higher.
In locations where storm shutters are sometimes used...the value goes higher.
A single pane anything brings very little of value to the table

Best of success
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
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Scott A. Nel…, , 02155
Sun Feb 3, 2013
One thing you might look into is vinyl with a wood veneer. This way you keep the original look, or close to it, As with anything quality costs more but also important is the thoroughness of the install. There may be guidance from the condo association for requirements if you do decide to replace them. Ask others in the building who they used then comparison shop. You'll want a contractor that's familiar with your type of replacement windows, also find out if they're custom ordered windows. Hope that helps.
0 votes
John Dean, Agent, Boston, MA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
Honestly this question has quite a bit to do with personal preference as there are 2 schools of thought on new old wooden windows vs the new energy efficient modern windows.

If the older wooden windows are properly maintained and kept in good condition with an exterior storm window I think you may be surprised by their efficiency . These windows have already survived quite a few years so it should survive many more with the proper care.

New windows on the other hand do not have as many maintenance issues and they offer some fantastic technology and conveniences.

I think both offer something of value but do yourself a favor dump your question into Google and you would be amazed how many responses you have on this topic.
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Linda Balliro, Agent, Cambridge, MA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
Hello -

this is a great question and I like your aesthetics. The value of the type of windows depends on the type of property. If you live in a condo building, I'd venture to say that wood vs vinyl will not affect the market value of your property. It may affect the desirability, - though but even that may not be significant enough to have an effect on how quickly the condos sell.

Generally speaking, In a classic building that is beautifully restored and whose appeal to buyers is the type of building, vinyl windows would detract from the building's value. This is much more significant in a single family than in condos. The vast majority of condo buyers will not be making an offer or deciding on price based on the type of windows. ( think of yourselves when you purchased). ( although old, damaged, inefficient windows can affect every sale/purchase).

There is an alternative - there are companies who lovingly restore wooden windows, making them comparable in energy efficiency to vinyl windows. is one that has a good reputation. Usually cheaper than replacing windows but can still be a significant cost.

One thing to remember about windows - wooden windows last hundreds of years - vinyl replacement last about 20-25.

So, I'd recommend high quality vinyl replacements, ( they come in colors other than white), or repairing the wooden windows if the cost is about the same.

Good luck. I can offer you a free CMA on the value of the condos in your building if you'd like to get an idea of how much you should be spending on improvements.

all the best,
Linda Balliro, broker
Andrew Mitchell & Co
0 votes
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