Restoring vs. Replacing: The Great Window Debate

by Anna Startin

DIY is on the rise. As Brits look to save money and make the most of their home amid the cost-of-living crisis, the average UK homeowner will spend £1,380 on DIY in 2023, with 37% spending more than they did the previous year. This is especially true for Gen Z, who are now becoming homeowners. On TikTok, DIY is one of the most searched terms for interior design and home ownership – totalling at an incredible 409 billion views.

For many who want to spruce up their homes and watch their spending, window restoration or replacement is a key area of focus. Faulty windows are draughty, unsightly and can pose a risk to home security. This leaves you with many options – replacing the whole window, restoring parts of the window or replacing ancillaries, such as locks and hinges.

To get the full picture, we spoke to the aluminium window specialists at the Heritage Window Company for their insight into window restoration and its accessibility to DIY beginners and pros.

Restoring your windows

Restoring your windows by yourself isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s recommended that only an experienced fixer-upper takes on the job. You should always seek specialist help if you aren’t confident.

Temporary coverings

A cracked or damaged window will no longer be weatherproof, can cause harm to small children and pets, compromise your property’s security and make your home very draughty. It’s crucial your window is temporarily fixed as soon as possible to reduce these risks – giving you time to call a professional repairs company or have them replaced entirely.

To temporarily repair a window, simply clear away the remaining debris within the frame – using glass-proof gloves to protect yourself from injury. Measure the space and cut a section of plywood to fill it, then tap panel pins into the surrounding frame.

If you want to temporarily repair a window without blocking out light, a similar process can be used with Perspex and Timba glaze or putty.

Glass replacement

To replace glass, wet your hands and knead linseed oil putty into soft strips. Band these strips into the rebate with your thumb, making it about 3mm in thickness around the inside of the frame. Put your protective gloves on and push the glass into the putty gently, putting pressure on the corners to avoid cracking.

To fix the glass in place, tap in glazing panel pins at 200mm intervals using a small hammer. Remove any excess putty with a putty knife. Finally, repeat the process of applying putty to the frame’s edge and smooth it out with your knife. Leave for two weeks before painting.

Replacing your windows

If your windows have unfortunately been damaged and restoring them is more trouble than it’s worth, you may want to replace them entirely. This leaves you with two options: replace them quickly with a similar material and design or use it as an opportunity to consider an alternative.

More durable windows can save you money on your energy bills thanks to triple-glazing options, increasing the energy efficiency of your home.

You could also opt for a stronger and more durable material than uPVC, such as aluminium. This will increase the lifespan of your windows, as well as increase the viewing angle thanks to thinner frames.

This option is ultimately more expensive in the short term than getting your older windows restored, however. If you aren’t in a position to spend a large amount of money on a full replacement, you could consider replacing certain parts instead.

Consider the details

Your windows’ ancillaries may be the cause of your need to restore or replace – such as a broken hinge or faulty lock. Give your windows a thorough inspection if you are unsure what is causing the problem. This will save you money compared to paying for a whole replacement, or save you time when it comes to restoration.

If you are replacing a faulty lock, consider improving your home security by using a more secure mechanism and opting for handles and locks which use a modern multi-point locking system. Not only will this fix your window, it will increase its original value and give you peace of mind.

Time for a facelift

Needing to restore or replace your windows offers an opportunity to massively increase your property’s kerb appeal and increase property value.

Modern windows are stronger, more durable and often use better glazing to insulate your home more efficiently – and come in various colours to match or contrast your ancillaries.

Aluminium windows make for a very customisable alternative, coming in many different colour options and unique finishes. If you’re the owner of a period home, black windows can add a modern art-deco twist to your frontage.

Before you make a decision, consider if you want to elevate your property or simply replace your windows. Even cheaper windows should last a minimum of 20 years, so you should carefully consider how you want your property to look before you make a decision.

Replacing vs. restoring – side-by-side

Unsure which is best for you? See which category you fall into.


  • much cheaper than buying replacement windows, but more difficult to install
  • higher risk of human error, leading to inefficiency
  • much quicker to install, allowing you to fix the issue sooner.


  • initially more expensive, but could save money on bills and maintenance in the long term
  • grants the opportunity to elevate the aesthetic of your property with customisable design options
  • you can opt for a modern alternative with increased durability and security
  • may have to wait longer for the windows to be fitted by a professional business.

There we have it! If you are unsure whether you have the DIY knowledge to restore your windows, be sure to find further advice from specialist tradesmen before attempting.

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