Original Windows and a Toddler

I would be grateful for some advice about old windows. We live in a 1908 Berkeley home with original wooden window frames and glass. Some of the ropes inside the frames that pull the windows up and down have broken but most still work. The glass is fragile and breaks easily. We've replaced a couple of panes that cracked in an earthquake with similar old glass. Here's the thing. Now we have a toddler! With a good throwing arm. We have plantation shutters on the inside of the windows and this provides a lot of protection, but still, it seems to me that it's likely that at some point a wooden toy hurled at an unprotected window is going to break it. Question 1 is safety related: is it reasonable to keep the old windows and glass (which for the sake of character we like, with the plantation shutters) or does the presence of the toddler mean we really should replace them? Question 2 is housing related. We are going to have the house painted soon, and there will be a lot of prep needed. If we replace the windows, do we look for a painter/contractor who can do all of it - replace windows and paint, or are those really separate jobs? Does anyone have any wisdom about old windows and kids to share? Any advice from a home-owner's perspective about old windows, new windows, and painting? Thank you!

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RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

If you decide to buy new windows expect to wait about 5 months for them to arrive. Window plus installation cost would likely be $2-3k per window.

I have a recommendation for painting and windows, but I have to dig up his contact information. Reach out if you would like that. 

RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

When my children were toddlers we lived in a 1961 constructed house with floor-to-ceiling single plated windows.  These windows were throughout the house but especially concerned me along the stairwell and in the master bedroom.  I forever feared that while my boys roughhoused someone would fall against the windows particularly hard and the glass would shatter - dangerously!  We placed safety film on the inside of all windows to limit the risk, but it did not eliminate it.  While we changed some glass doors and windows, the cost of changing all floor-to-ceiling windows was prohibitive.  That cost contributed to our decision to move even though we had to forgo our Bay view.  It does not sound like you have floor-to-ceiling windows so it may be enough to put safety film on the inside of the glass.  The film would limit your risk and cut UV rays and, to a limited extent, help the house stay cooler.  The film does darken the glass and it is a pain to install.

Your bigger issue with a toddler is painting a 1908 house which is sure to have been painted with lead paint at some point.  You will definitely want to get painters experienced in dealing with lead paint mitigation.  Most likely they will recommend “encapsulating” the paint rather than scraping or stripping it off.  If you change out the windows you will be disturbing the lead paint even more and may need more extensive mitigation. Good luck.

RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

I have ahouse o similar vintage and now eight-yer-old grandtwins who lived me when they were three, and now visit from ttime to time. There used to be an outfit in Oakland, Wooden Windows, that could tune-out, repair sashes and ropes, and/or replace old windows. They are now defunct. I repaired the ropes on many of the windows myself. Not so hard for a handy-ma'am. One of the twins tipped backwards on a kitchen stool, fell into a kitchen window, and broke it. She did not go through the window. I had the glass replaced with safety glass by Berkeley Glass company, now moved to El Cerrito. An issue of concern is the low sills of the windows. When they are open from the bottom a toddler could easily fall out. I only open them from the top when the kids are present.

Of course window replacement companies would love your business, but it is expensive, and probably unnecessary. Whey not identify the problem windows and at-risk windows, and have a skilled handy man tune them up to open and close property.

RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

Windows and paint are definitely separate things, and (quality) windows are NOT cheap - so be forewarned. The rest of your post made me laugh. You must be raising some MLB player there - we raised our kids in several old houses with the same type of windows and never a crack. We had a rule, no throwing in the house - that's what outside is for. Hope that helps!

RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

We managed with the original windows throughout our child's time at home. This wasn't a problem for us.

RE: Original Windows and a Toddler ()

With respect to question 1, we also have old, single pane windows that we wanted to keep. Our babyproofer suggested that there are great films that can apply to help contain the glass should they break (similar to the smash ‘n grab films you can get for your car). We haven’t done that yet but worth a shot if you’re worried about safety.