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Classic Double-Hung Windows for Historic Philadelphia Homes

posted by Jennifer Erisman on August 24, 2021 in Philadelphia

Pella wood double-hung window

Origin of the Double-Hung Window

Double-hung windows were first developed in the United Kingdom and brought to the U.S. through colonization. Double-hung windows originally relied on counterweights to go up and down, but then we developed a simpler frame design to allow you to slide them up and down without heavy weights or a pulley system.

Benefits of Double-Hung Windows

There are many reasons that double-hung windows appeal to homeowners, including their benefits of ventilation and their classic look. Double-hung windows easily glide open from the top or the bottom for enhanced ventilation and circulation of fresh air. This style of window is also very classic in its look and can be used on a wide variety of homes to provide the functionality, performance and aesthetic that many homeowners desire.

What makes double-hung windows so popular?

Pella double-hung windows have numerous benefits that homeowners enjoy, including energy efficiency and sound reduction.

  • Energy efficiency: Our energy-efficient double-hung windows will help provide comfort in your home and lower your utility bill. Our windows also use low-emissivity (Low-E) glass to improve energy efficiency. This glass coating helps to regulate the temperature in your home by blocking heat during the summer and retaining heat in the winter. This glass coating also blocks most of the sun’s harmful UV rays and helps prevent your furniture and carpet from fading.
  • Sound reduction: Double-hung windows have several features that help reduce noise inside and outside the home. One such feature is insulating gas between the panes that dampens outside noises. These glass panes can also be paired together with varying thicknesses to help diminish different sounds at different frequencies. Insulating frames also reduce noise transfer. A wood frame has natural insulating properties that limit sound. Fiberglass windows have optional foam insulation to help. Vinyl frames have insulating air chambers and optional foam insulation. Overall, with the proper installation, the airtight seal in double-hung windows reduces noise.
  • Ease of cleaning: Double-hung windows are easier to clean, especially compared to their counterparts, single-hung windows. Since both sashes can be tilted in to wash the inside and outside surfaces, you can clean both sashes easily from inside the comfort of your own home. This added feature makes cleaning windows on upper floors in your home safer, easier and more convenient.
  • Between-the-glass blinds: Available on Lifestyle Series windows, between-the-glass blinds are protected from dust, damage, and people touching them to make them a great low-maintenance option. They are safer thanks to their cordless operation and come in multiple colors to fit other decorative elements in your home. There is also an option to get motorized shades when you pair your integrated blinds with Pella® Insynctive™ technology.

Pella wood double-hung windows on home exterior

Double-Hung Windows in Philadelphia

There are a variety of home styles in Philadelphia. Double-hung windows are commonly found on traditional and historic homes. These types of home styles are found in some Philadelphia neighborhoods, including Old City, Society Hill and Rittenhouse Square.

Historic Philadelphia Buildings with Double-Hung Windows

Many different historical homes in Philadelphia are fitted with double-hung windows. We’ve worked on several old homes to improve their window’s energy efficiency while preserving the history of the home. For example, we put windows into a home built in 1920 so that it could look like it did in its original glory. We put in windows with a single vertical grille pattern and a dark finish for aesthetics while also improving functionality and energy efficiency.

We also worked on a 100-year-old home that had outdated and inefficient windows. This homeowner wanted something that matched the character of their historic home, so we installed the double-hung windows with white exterior aluminum-cladding. Now, the windows are both energy efficient while also maintaining a historic look.

Historic Window Replacement Considerations

There are some considerations to take into account when doing a historic window replacement. Some of these things include the fact that there are strict guidelines for replacing windows on a historic home or building. You must also obtain approval through the Historical Commission staff in Philadelphia before making any changes to the building. Be prepared that this process can be hard as the main goal is to preserve history and so replacement is seen as a last resort. Luckily, our Pella professionals will help you navigate through the process to help achieve your wants while preserving the history of your home. This includes:

  • Not doing any altercations or replacements that can compromise the integrity of a building, the street, and the historic district
  • Focusing on repairing and providing maintenance to existing windows
  • Having highly visible parts of the window like the sash and frame match the original in terms of material, operation, configuration (the pattern or organization of glass panes), profile, and detail
  • When possible, only replacing the sash of the window
  • Using true divided light wooden muntins

Overall, replacing windows on a historic home means matching the original windows to maintain the historic character of the building and to help retain the sense of scale and rhythm of the historic district. An example of a project we did on a historic home where we had to take in some considerations was in Wilmington, PA. The owner had old windows that were failing in energy efficiency and started to fade and look old. Because it was a brick home, we did a pocket replacement with our Architect and Lifestyle Series windows to match the original look and leave the brick unaffected. 

Traditional Philadelphia Homes with Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows are also found in traditional-style homes. Some projects on traditional homes with double-hung windows we have done in the Philadelphia area include one in Harleysville and one in Havertown.

In Harleysville, the homeowner wanted to upgrade their home’s exterior appearance. We installed 250 Series vinyl double-hung windows and replaced the traditional grilles with prairie grilles to update the appearance. 

In Havertown, we worked with Third Generation Contracting on a kitchen remodel where we delivered Lifestyle Series wood double-hung windows. These new windows harmonized the style of the kitchen with the marble countertops and white cabinets while adding a touch of modernity. The remodel went so well that it won the Delchester NARI award for the best residential kitchen! 

Pella traditional double-hung window in home office

Pella Double-Hung Windows

At Pella, we have several lines and materials that feature double-hung windows.

Wood. Wood double-hung windows have many benefits of historical accuracy. Wood was the original window material; it has a natural beauty and warmth to it. Our Pella Reserve window, specifically, is known for its historical detailing. It has historic putty profiles, through-stile construction, and Integral Light Technology grilles.

Fiberglass. Our Impervia fiberglass windows are known for their durability. Fiberglass is the strongest window material available. The benefits of a fiberglass double-hung window frame include that they are engineered to last and withstand extreme temperatures. The finish resists chipping, chalking, and fading. It is also rot and corrosion resistant as well as being naturally resistant to bugs and water.

Vinyl. Vinyl double-hung windows are an affordable option that is still high-quality and energy-efficient. Our unique vinyl formula is performance proven in durability, color retention and ease of care.

Pella wood lifestyle double-hung widow with cam-action lock

Customizable Options on Pella Double-Hung Windows

Hardware. Our double-hung windows come with cam-action locks to securely lock your window and protect your home. A fantastic option for traditional-style homes is a spoon-lock that is available in our Architect Series Traditional wood windows. Our double-hung windows also have sash lifts so you can easily glide the sash open and closed. These hardware options are available with finishes like oil-rubbed bronze, polished chrome, and brass while the locks can come in colors like white, black, nickel or champagne. This means that you can choose a classic brass finish to go with your traditional windows and home.

Finishes. As for finishes for the double-hung window material, our wood stain choices are from black to natural to red mahogany as well as paints of varying whites. For the exterior, finishes on aluminum-clad can be white, red, brown, black, almond and more. Pella Reserve has even more exterior finishes with colors like green, blue, and other varying shades of the colors listed. While our Lifestyle Series adds more stains of Early American and Provincial. For our fiberglass windows, we have black, brown or white. Lastly, for our 250 Series vinyl frames, we offer white, almond or fossil with dual-color frame options of fossil, brown or black. With a dual-color finish, you can choose a dark stain or paint to showcase your home’s traditional elements or choose a green or red to be contrasting and stand out on your traditional home.

Grilles. Integral Light Technology (ILT) grilles are great for when you want to be authentic to your home’s traditional or historic design. The grilles are permanently bonded to the inside and outside of the window glass and nonglare foam spacers in between the grilles cast a realistic shadow like individual windowpanes would, simulating a true-divided light window. There are also simulated-divided-light grilles for another traditional look. In addition, we have multiple grille patterns available including Traditional, Cross, Victorian, Prairie and more.

Schedule your free, no-pressure Pella window consultation to get the ball rolling on your next project.

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*Based on a 2020 survey of leading window brands among homeowners.