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Old 01-18-2011, 02:13 AM   #1
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Hi all! I am new here, this is my first post. My situation is: Seeing as vinyl replacement windows within my price point are HIDEOUS as well as historically inaccurate, I have been considering restoring my house's original double-hung wooden windows.

The house is one of the earliest historical examples of "Shoebox Ranch," circa 1946. It's been neglected. The sills are completely shot due to ill-maintained storms and some undoubtedly well-intentioned person caulking up the storm windows' weep holes (I have since removed the caulk but the damage is done). Sixty-five years worth of layers of paint are peeling back to expose raw wood in some places, but the sash frames are solid. The sashes have a single horizontal muntin, two panes per sash. Many of the glass panes are loose. With all the layers of poorly-applied paint, it's hard to tell if it's just the glazing or if there is wood rot going on.

I have a good deal of woodworking experience in millwork, cabinetry, and luthiere. I have a good assortment of tools, from drawknives to Dremels. What I would like to do is to disassemble each window one by one and

1) replace the sill
2) inspect the jambs and apply wood hardener as needed
3) strip the paint from each sash and apply wood hardener and fresh glazing as needed
4) Prime, paint, and reassemble the window.

My questions are:
1) What would be the timeframe for doing one 35" by 52" window--could I get one done over a weekend? (I don't mind working 14-15 hours straight)

2) How should I cover the hole when the sashes are on my workbench?

3) Do I need to knock apart each sash, pull out the muntin, separate the panes, grind out the old glazing, put in new glazing and clamp the whole thing back together, or can I just run a bead of caulk around the edges? There is not much of the old glazing left.

Thanks! I look forward to becoming a regular around here!

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Old 01-18-2011, 07:21 AM   #2
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


That's a lot of work and you still end up with inefficient windows. There are historically correct replacement windows available, but they are pricey.

If you must.............
1. depending on drying time for paint, latex is better, you should be able to do one over a weekend.
2. it has barely been above freezing here since the middle of Dec. So I would say yes, cover the hole.
3. Don't take the sashes apart if there is no reason to, ie-loose glue joints.
Be very caerful cleaning out the old glazing compound, those pieces are probably fragile.

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Old 01-18-2011, 10:15 AM   #3
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


I would focus on the frames and replace the sashes. A number of companies make modern sashes(aluminum clad wood) that would be much more efficient then the 1946 sashes you have.
Frame condition is important in this type of conversion.
Ron
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:22 PM   #4
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Thanks. I'm looking to start this in the spring, when temperatures are milder. What should I cover the window hole with? A tarp? A sheet of plywood? We're actually pretty happy with the wood window/storm window combination. It's only a four-room house, so heating bills don't amount to much. I know there are wood replacement sashes available, but this is an issue of having much more time on my hands than money. I may have to replace a few sashes, but I can't afford to replace all of them.
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:35 PM   #5
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


a friend of mine specializes in restoring wood windows and doors,a surprising number of people rather have the old windows refurbished than put in modern units and energy efficiency can be debated

in your situation i think your making a good choice,i would definitely recommend ply over the opening

good luck and keep us posted maybe start a thread
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:02 PM   #6
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


I can perform all of the above in about 6 hrs. for each window, but I am a pro and did lots of them.
You should be able to one window in a weekend and for one think it is great if you refurbish the existing windows instead of getting new.
You may not have to replace the entire sill, but instead repair in place.
I absolutely agree with Tom, the energy efficiency is debatable.

Andy.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:22 PM   #7
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


If the windows have been neglected for a great period of time you may want to consider making new windows to match the existing. I made several sets of double hung and it doesn't take all that long, may be faster than trying to save something pretty far gone.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:08 PM   #8
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Try here for lots of window restoration advice.
http://www.oldhouseweb.com/forums/
They have a strong bias toward restoration over replacement as you might expect from an old house website. Lots of window discussions.
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:20 PM   #9
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tomstruble View Post
a friend of mine specializes in restoring wood windows and doors,a surprising number of people rather have the old windows refurbished than put in modern units and energy efficiency can be debated

in your situation i think your making a good choice,i would definitely recommend ply over the opening

good luck and keep us posted maybe start a thread
Hi tomstruble - Im interested in obtaining your restoration friends contact info as Im looking to have my 50 years old wood windows restored. Im new on these forums so not sure how this works. Can you send me private message?
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Old 05-06-2011, 10:34 PM   #10
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


here ya go

http://vtrenovations.com/
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Old 05-09-2011, 05:33 PM   #11
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


I've lived in several 100 year old rental houses over the past 15 years, and I can say I've seen some really terrible old windows. I'd say make sure they're not warped and the drafts are minimal. Otherwise you'll be miserable, even if it is a small place!
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:21 AM   #12
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


I post this company and its products now and then because I have been using them since I used to restore wooden sailboats. I promise, I have no stock in them but love the approach they have to restoring the worst of old rotten woodwork. Pricey though. But much cheaper than say, finding a millwright to carve a new oval window frame for a stained glass piece in an antique house.

http://www.abatron.com/cms/

For windows the process is three step (oversimplyfing a bit). You carve out as much rot as you can, you coat the remaining rough surface with their liquid expoxy resin and then you mix and pour or otherwise fill in the gaps with epoxy. You can try to tint it to match natural wood. Or just leave it alone. Once set you shape it with regular tools. Prime paint and it will be stronger than the rest of the window frame.

Unless your situation is different than any other oldie but goodie I have encountered though? I bet you if you laid a carpenter's pocket square to a corner of any window you pick in your house, not one corner of any is square (This is why some of the cool old wavy glass is cracked). And, if you took a long framing square, the window and door frames are not square to the house either. Hopefully, they are still somewhat true to the foundation or ceiling plates though. This is why earthquake training 101 in California is to hide in a door frame if nothing else.

Anyhow, you sound amazingly willing to restore these antique windows so why not. Depending on how fast you can work? Pull them one by one. And their framing too. Pull the glass you can rescue and plan on reglazing it back in place. No big deal.

I would cut and install new sills and water escape routes, etc. Hopefully you have all the weights, and things? You can get kits for just about every window made if you dig or find an architectural replacement junkyard. The one here is like stories tall and the one in Champaign is amazing too.

You will have to square up the windows and reglaze the glass in place. You will have to square up the window frame itself to the window too.

And, at the end of the day, you will have done a nice thing but will still need sweaters all winter as the cold from single pane, wavy glass windows, chills you, the wife, kids, dog cat and fish?

Get new replacement historic looking, super energy efficient windows if you can afford them. They are not that expensive if you work with a reliable builder, architect, restoration person etc. Don't even look at a box store and frankly their crap will cost you more.
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Old 05-21-2011, 04:02 AM   #13
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Just had to revive this thread. I've been researching, following some of the leads and tips I got here, and through the site that Mike in Arkansas recommended, I got hold of the best window restoration site in the world, and I thought I'd pass it on to anyone who pulls up this thread with questions similar to mine:

http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/index.htm

Anyone considering repairing their old wooden windows rather than replacing them should go there first! I have learned so much. This guy even does workshops every year, training people how to save their windows. Single-pane, wood framed windows can have comparable efficiency to modern vinyl replacements when

a) storm windows are used
b) the windows are properly maintained
c) the windows are properly installed and insulated

...and I don't think anyone's going to argue that they're a heck of a lot prettier, unless you want to spend $1000+ per window for custom-made, historically accurate replacements.

There's also really interesting information on this site about removing paint and old glazing putty using steam, useful for much more than window sashes.
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:36 AM   #14
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


Quote:
Originally Posted by whammytap View Post
Just had to revive this thread. I've been researching, following some of the leads and tips I got here, and through the site that Mike in Arkansas recommended, I got hold of the best window restoration site in the world, and I thought I'd pass it on to anyone who pulls up this thread with questions similar to mine:

http://www.historichomeworks.com/hhw/index.htm

Anyone considering repairing their old wooden windows rather than replacing them should go there first! I have learned so much. This guy even does workshops every year, training people how to save their windows. Single-pane, wood framed windows can have comparable efficiency to modern vinyl replacements when

a) storm windows are used
b) the windows are properly maintained
c) the windows are properly installed and insulated

...and I don't think anyone's going to argue that they're a heck of a lot prettier, unless you want to spend $1000+ per window for custom-made, historically accurate replacements.

There's also really interesting information on this site about removing paint and old glazing putty using steam, useful for much more than window sashes.
I really like his temporary repair of the wood sill by appling blue painters tape, burnishing the edges and painting over the top. A repair that will last, "one to 2 years"(until you're ready to do it correctly).
Ron
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Old 05-21-2011, 12:18 PM   #15
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Tips for restoring wooden windows?


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Originally Posted by Ron6519 View Post
I really like his temporary repair of the wood sill by appling blue painters tape, burnishing the edges and painting over the top. A repair that will last, "one to 2 years"(until you're ready to do it correctly).
Ron
You long island people have such attitude. Typical almost NYC tudes, a suburb away, going on every day. Be honest for a change. If he leaves the well burnished painter's tape on he will get an extra six months. Right?

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