Dear Jim: My old windows are not worn enough to replace, but they are drafty, fade the carpets and sweat during cold spells. I saw some low-cost, reusable rigid interior storm window kits. Are they worthwhile? -- Bob H.Dear Bob: If your primary windows are still in reasonably good condition, reusable rigid interior storm window kits are an excellent low-cost alternative to replacement windows. I even installed one in my own living room under a new super-efficient double-pane skylight.
Interior storm window kits offer year-round savings and comfort. Most use lightweight clear acrylic because it insulates better than glass, is more impact resistant and blocks the sun's UV fading rays. Another do-it-yourself option is tough, two-pane, clear film for even higher insulation.
In addition to the elimination of chilly drafts in the winter, you will instantly notice reduced outdoor noise through your windows. If you air-condition in the summer, leave them up year-round. With painted or wood-grained frames, these storm windows are barely noticeable when installed.
There are many designs of interior storm windows. Ones that use quick-to-install magnetic seals are most common. They can be mounted directly either against the primary window frame or inside the window opening on an L-channel. They are hidden and protected when installed inside the opening.
A magnetic strip, usually about one-half inch wide, is embedded in the rigid vinyl storm window frame. A thin, self-adhesive steel strip is attached with adhesive to the wall or window frame. The powerful magnet holds the storm window snugly against the strip for an airtight seal.
If your old window frames are warped or wavy, choose a design that uses flexible bellows. This functions just like your flexible refrigerator door magnetic seal. It also helps to absorb impacts from your children.
Other attachment options are clips and hook-and-loop. Clips are often used on very large storm windows. Hook-and-loop strips hold very tightly and are easy to install and remove each year.
For very drafty old windows, select a kit with a secondary seal in addition to the primary attachment seal. If you have slider or double-hung windows, select a split kit that allows half of the window to be opened.
There are several kit purchasing options. The lowest-cost option is to buy a do-it-yourself frame-only kit. You cut the vinyl frame sections yourself and purchase the clear acrylic wherever you find the lowest price. Other companies only sell complete kits through professional installers.
Write for (or instantly download -- http://www.dulley.com Update Bulletin No.
728 -- buyer's guide of 10 interior storm window kits, frame/window materials, attachment methods, installation instructions and specifications. Please include $3 and a business-size SASE.
James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244
Dear Jim: We just bought a house that has dark wood paneling, and we always need to have lamps on. I would like to hang bright wallpaper, but the paneling has grooves. Do I have to remove it first? -- Jane R.
Dear Jane: The best method, if you have time, is to remove the old paneling. You may be lucky and find drywall behind it in good condition. Drill a small hole in a corner spot and see what you find.
To place wallpaper over the old paneling, fill the joints and grooves with spackling compound. Over this, apply a base underlayment, called blank stock to create a smooth surface. Apply your new wallpaper over this.
James Dulley's Web site http://www.dulley.com includes 150 of his previous columns and illustrations organized under 30 general topics. Dulley's Web page also includes a rush order form for readers who want to expedite the delivery of the current Dulley Update Bulletin offered in his column. Each of the 150 columns also has a related detailed Update Bulletin available for interested readers.