Boise Windows – A Lesson in History

In Boise’s Historic District, authentic windows are a vital component in retaining the charm of a home. When the old windows need replacing, homeowners must adhere to specific guidelines in order to retain the home in a “contributing” status. The U.S. Department of Interior has even written a set of Historic Preservation recommendations for use by nationwide preservation committees. In Boise, windows add or detract from the historical authenticity. For this reason, the City of Boise developed the Design Guidelines for Residential Historical District handbook. Here are some of their recommendations:

Repair When Possible

Remove old paint that is sealing old doors and windows closed, or blocking a good seal; weatherize by re-caulking or installing weather stripping or storm windows. Rotted components of windows can also be replaced in an effort to retain the windows character defining elements. If repair is not an option, Boise City considers replacement acceptable. Be sure to follow the guidelines for retaining authenticity and old world charm.

Avoid Inappropriate Designs & Material

Use of any material other than wood is not acceptable. Multi-pane windows should not be replaced with solid glass with no decorative features.

Retain Historical Decorative Features

These features also define the overall historical character of the building:
  • Frames – The outside border that holds the glass in place
  • Sashes – Another word for the frame which holds the glass in a window or door
  • Muntins – Ever wonder what separates and holds each window pane in place? This can be made of wood or metal
  • Glazing – This indicates the type of the glass itself installed in the window or door
  • Sills – Ledges below a window, or the bottom of the frame. This is especially important on the outside of the building. In Boise, windows need these to help rain run away from their frames
  • Heads – This is the top part of the window, and can vary among window styles
  • Hoodmolds – Often called dripstones, these are a protective stone or wood drip in the overhang above a window or door
  • Paneled or decorated Jambs – These are the upright supports on either side of a door or window; the inside vertical face
  • Moldings – The decorative strip of wood or other material used to finish out the opening where the window sits in the wall
  • Shutters, inside & out – Often used to decoratively finish the edges of a window inset

Remain Compatible with Structure and Other Windows –

Low, double-hung windows should be replaced with the same. Large, multi-pane windows should not be replaced with side-hung windows.

There are many types of old Boise windows, and the Historical Society helps to maintain the classic charm of the old parts of town. If you need a professional to assist you in working to restore or maintain your home, call the kind folks at Right Now Windows for a free estimate and know your home is in good hands.