Improving aluminum window frames
November 30, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hi! I really hope someone can help me... My newly purchased and renovated condo has many very large windows, all with old aluminum frames from when the building was originally built in 1974. Unfortunately they are not the look I want, but my condo association won't let me replace the windows.

I should also note that not only does the aluminum clash with my desired decor (feminine/contemporary with curtains, etc.) but the previous owner had installed inset curtains by drilling into the aluminum, so now I'm left with lots of ugly holes all over the top portion of the frames.

Can anyone suggest how to improve the appearance of these window frames? I am considering trying to prime and paint them to match my white moldings/trim elsewhere in the room, but have heard that painted aluminum never looks good and also begins peeling soon after the job is finished.). I could also cover them with wood strips to be attached in front of them. However, I have never seen window frames covered with added moldings, so am a little nervous to go this route...). Installing blinds (inset, under the curtains) would at least cover the top strip, which is the worst, but they have to be made custom and so would be pricey, and still won't cover the middle and floor-level portions of the frame.

See pictures attached. Please advise!!! Any insight would be much appreciated!
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There is a reason why the previous owners drilled those holes - to hide the window frames. Had some experience with these and painting does not work - for long, lasts about two wks max. The wood strips wouldn't work unless you never plan to open them. If you are in a cold climate, the frames transfer the cold from outside in and will be the source of lots of condensation in the wintertime. Even if the glass in doubled for insulation, it doesn't help much. These windows look like a pretty standard size - there is always room for some adjustment on the standard sizes of blinds and that's the way I would go. If you need to look out of them, at least the top parts would be covered. Sorry, these frames were never meant to be painted and obviously, developed and used by someone who really didn't consider what they look like.
0 Likes   November 30, 2013 at 2:35PM
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TMK Remodeling
I am surprised the condo association won't let you replace since windows of that vintage are prime candidates for it. Can you appeal to the association and get some real reasons for that policy? I have done some replacements for condo owners and most allow it as long as you conform to a specific finish and trim system. Otherwise you are stuck trying to put lipstick on the pig.
0 Likes   November 30, 2013 at 3:46PM
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I can totally understand why a condo association would not want each individual homeowner replacing windows. When I look at a building, I don't want to see different windows on different portions of the building. That goes for individual houses, commercial buildings, condo buildings etc. It isn't just the design of the product, it is also the issues involved in replacing the windows. I wouldn't like to have my upstairs neighbor get replacement windows and then not get them installed properly and get leaks inside the walls, down into my unit.
0 Likes   November 30, 2013 at 4:14PM
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TMK Remodeling
So what is the alternative to defective or windows in disrepair? Unless the association undertakes a capital project to replace all the windows then it's up to the owner to maintain their property. How could the owner sell the property if they have failing windows or doors? The association has to provide some means for an owner to maintain the property and be energy efficient. If that means they spec out replacement units and designate a supplier so be it. But to say you can't is unacceptable in my view.
0 Likes   November 30, 2013 at 4:51PM
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In the developments I'm familiar with, window replacement is similar to roof replacement. Jobs are done on a schedule (not necessarily all at one time) and are a major project paid for from the association's reserves.

If the windows are in bad shape and the association is ignoring the problem, a condo owner has a couple options, neither of them very desirable. First is get elected to the condo board. If someone doesn't wish to go that direction and the problem is serious, another option is talking with the city building/code enforcement department. Those folks have the power to force the issue.

I could understand owners being permitted to replace windows in a development where each unit is physically distinct and the only contact with the neighboring units is a party wall, like a townhouse unit. But for a large building with many units, I would expect the association to handle such issues.
1 Like   November 30, 2013 at 5:20PM
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