Replacement Doors and Windows

Which Doors and Windows Do I Need?



Written by Paul Race for CardboardPutzHouses.com and CardboardChristmas.com


Our Marketplace page lists the kinds of windows we have available. But our friend Paul Race, proprietor of CardboardChristmas.com has added this page for us to help people who aren't sure what they need. He sorts it out depending on what kind of house you have to work with.



It's amazing how many neglected and abused cardboard Christmas "putz" houses we come across every year. It's even more amazing how many of them regain their original cheerful appearance with a little elbowgrease and a few replacement parts. Of course what most of these little "diamonds in the rough" need the most are doors and windows. The late "Papa" Ted used to say that restoring doors and windows to a damaged putz house is like sewing buttons back onto an old teddy bear's face - the thing just "comes to life." In fact, Ted considered the replacement doors and windows he sold online as one of his most important contributions to the hobby.

Fortunately, the generosity of Ted's original suppliers has allowed fellow collector Pete Oehmen to continue offering those doors and windows. But there are so many kinds, newbies are often "get lost" trying to decide which kind to use. This article is our way of helping you get to the windows you need you need with the least hassle, depending largely on which kind of house you are trying to restore:

  • - Little Illuminated Houses

  • - Big Illuminated Houses

  • - Non-Illuminated Houses


Little Illuminated Houses

On this page, "illuminated" will mean that there is a hole in the back to stick a C-6 lightbulb into. Illuminated houses can't be really tiny, because they would overheat and catch fire.

When we say "little" in this context, we're referring to the most common putz houses, which are 5" or less in all directions, and they usually only have 2-3 windows and one door.

Windows

Most small illuminated houses have either red cellophane or printed paper windows, although there are a few exceptions.

Red Cellophane - Most small illuminated putz houses we come across started out with red cellophane windows with gold printing. If you want a direct replacement for those, the easiest thing to do is to measure the openings and visit Pete's Cellophane Replacement Window page. If one of your windows is still intact, try to choose one that looks like the one you already have. If not, try to find one that will fit the opening with just a bit of gold showing around the edges. Don't feel nervous about your replacement windows turning brittle like the old ones did. The mylar on the new windows is way more durable.

Printed (Paper) - The most common exception to the red cellophane windows is printed paper windows that are mounted so that the light shines through. There are a bunch of these on Pete's Printed Doors and Windows page, so take a look there. Also, several of our friends are graphic artists who are creating restorations of other common printed windows as well, so if you don't see what you need, take a photo of your house (especially any surving windows whatever the condition), measure your window openings, and e-mail Pete with the details. Someone we know may have what you need "in the works," or they may take on your project as a challenge.

Other - Less common are windows with flocked "fuzzy" frames, different colored cellophane, or different colored frames. For those or other exceptions please jump to the "Special Cases" section toward the end of this article.

Doors

We haven't exactly done a survey but the most common doors on little putz houses seem to be either red cellophane (usually an arched window pattern), or printed doors that are either glued into an opening or simply glued to the face of the building.

Red Cellophane - If you have red cellophane doors, the easiest thing to do is to measure the openings and visit Pete's Cellophane Replacement Window page.

Printed doors are usually glued into an opening, though a few are glued onto the front of the bulding.

If you need a printed door that is glued into an opening, check out Pete's Printed Doors and Windows page, which has the most common patterns in the most common sizes.

Less common, but still seen are Stick-On Doors that are glued right to the face of building with no hole cut. Never fear, Pete has a page of those, too, his Stick-On (Candy-Box) Doors page. If you can't find what you're looking for there, check out the Printed Doors and Windows page - some of those patterns were trimmed and pasted onto the front of buildings as well

Other - Less common are doors with flocked "fuzzy" frames, different colored cellophane, or different colored frames. For those or other exceptions please jump to the "Special Cases" section toward the end of this article.

Big Illuminated Houses

For this page, we'll say that a "big" house exceeds 5" in at least two directions and has more than three windows. "Papa" Ted had the classification "giant" for houses that are even bigger, but we won't need a separate classification for that, since even the giants used common door and window sizes.

Windows

Generally the largest illuminated vintage putz houses used red cellophane or printed paper windows stuck into openings so the light could shine through, though there were exceptions.

Red Cellophane - Most large illuminated putz houses and churches we come across started out with red cellophane windows with gold printing. You can cheer your house or church up quickly by measuring the openings and visiting Pete's Cellophane Replacement Window page. That page also has an example of a large church that "comes to life" after its windows are restored.

Printed (Paper) - A very few large houses and churches use printed paper windows that are mounted so that the light shines through. Although several are listed on Pete's Printed Doors and Windows page, you may need a custom window developed. If so, never fear, our graphic artist friends are always looking for a challenge. Take a photo of your house (especially any surving windows whatever the condition), measure your window openings, and e-mail Pete with the details. Someone we know may have what you need "in the works," or they may take your project on as a challenge.

Other - Less common are windows with flocked "fuzzy" frames, different colored cellophane, or different colored frames. For those, or other exceptions please jump to the "Special Cases" section toward the end of this article.

Doors

Red Cellophane - The doors on most very large houses are red cellophane with gold printed frame patterns. Sometimes they're the same pattern used for the windows; sometimes they're larger or slightly different. A few even use a door pattern like the one shown at the right. In all of these cases, direct replacements for most examples are available on Pete's Cellophane Replacement Windows page. Measure the door opening and take a look there.

Printed - If you have a printed door on a very large house, it may be "custom." Check Pete's Printed Doors and Windows and Stick-On Doors pages to see if you can find something that will help. If you can't find what you're looking for there, take a photo of your house (especially any surving doors and windows, whatever the condition), measure your window openings, and e-mail Pete with the details. We'll check with our graphic artist friends to see if anyone has something like it in the works.

Other - Very, very rarely, doors on a large illuminated house may be made from cellophane with flocked "fuzzy" frames, different colored cellophane, or different colored frames. For those or other exceptions please jump to the "Special Cases" section toward the end of this article.

Non-Illuminated Houses

Houses without holes in the back almost never have window openings - there's no point, since there's no light to shine through. Most of them were originally candy boxes; in fact the original cardboard putz houses were all candy boxes. Also, most of them are pretty small. Some are much smaller than the smallest illuminated house.

Another kind of very small house continued after illuminated houses started to be produced - the "ornament house." Usually less than 2" tall, these were made to hang on the tree and almost never had holes for lights. Some of these actually had the door and window patterns rubber-stamped on the front of the house. But the ones that had stick-on windows generally had the same patterns as the candy-box houses that preceded them.

Unlike the later graphics used inside openings on illuminated houses, most stick-on (candy box) doors had just windowframes with shaded windows. Some were brown only - they were probably printed with a one-ink process. Others had multiple colors, including blue shaded windows which were very attractive. In retrospect, the fake window reflections were a good way to make the house seem a bit more "open."

The fake windows served another, practical purpose. The Japanese factories did not need to use separate graphics for the doors and windows. More often than not, they chopped up the door graphic to get "windows."

Consequently, the "replacement" page for candy boxes contains only doors, and some examples of ways the original Japanese builders cut up the door graphics to make windows.

If you're making a putz-style craft that won't have actual window openings (say tiny house ornaments), you will find these very useful, and much easier to use. In addition, if you can't find what you need on Pete's Stick-On (Candy-Box) Doors page, take a look at the Printed Doors and Windows page. A few of the patterns there actually turned up in a stick-on version first. In fact one pattern - the green, blue, and red door - is common both as a stick-on and a "stick-in" door.

Special Cases

As mentioned above, there are other door and window types, including flocked "fuzzy" frames, different colored cellophane, or different colored frames. For most of these, the best solution usually involves Custom Die-Cut Windowframes. Although Pete provides them on gold foil, you could paint them another color, "flock" them, or use them with another color cellophane. Since these have come out, new uses are being discovered all the time, so check back.

Conclusion

When Pete started trying to catalog every kind of putz house made, he soon realized that there were not hundreds, but thousands, of variations. If you have a house type or need a door or window type we haven't discussed here, don't feel bad - our initial goal was to hit the 90% or so most common types and uses. If this page hasn't helped you find what you need, or if you have questions about anything on this site, please use the Contact Page to get in touch with Pete.

Also, the CardboardChristmas.com forums are a good place to upload photos and ask questions. To join the forum membership or to ask me (Paul) a question, please use the CardboardChristmas.com Contact page.

In the meantime, keep in touch, keep enjoying your hobbies, and keep enjoying the season,

Paul