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krankykitty 05-30-2008 05:41 PM

Restoring old wooden windows

I am planning to restore my old wooden windows. No, I do not want to replace them with vinyl, lol. I am planning to pull the sashes, strip them, reglaze, install weatherstripping, replace the counterweight cords with chain, etc, etc. I was wondering if anyone has any experiences with this that they would like to share, and particularly if there are any good suggestions for weatherstripping, i.e. the type to use and how to install it. I have reglazed windows in the past, but never quite on this scale, and I never added in weatherstripping, so any input would be great.


bofusmosby 05-30-2008 06:23 PM

Good luck with your windows. I too, am restoring mine. I would suggest to go to a used building supply store, and buy a couple of extra sashes, so when you remove the ones you are going to be working on, you can put the others in their place. This way, you can take your time. I'm not putting in any weather-stripping, but everything else, yes. I pulled my old sashes, and put the temp sashes I bought in their place. I removed the glass, used chemical stripper to remove the many years of paint. Careful, you may be dealing with lead paint. Wear gloves for this. (you might want to read up on dealing with lead paint) I then take the sashes apart. I took them apart by finding the nails holding them together, and hammering the nails all the way through with a punch. (a lot less damage to the wood) After this, I then repaired any termite damage with "bondo". This stuff works great. If there are any splits in the wook, use epoxy for this repair. Then when I reassembled the sashes, I epoxy'd the joints. One trick I learned is to then set the glass in the sash, do not mount it, just set it in the frame. This way you can check for the square of the sash. This needs to be done before the glue dries, and only leave the glass there long enough to position the sash square.

Important..After the paint has been removed, make sure you only do a light hand sanding on the edges of the sashes, because it will be easy for you to take off too much wood, thus causing the sashes to fit too loose in the frames. For my old house, I try to use the old glass wih the ripples and bubbles. This way, it matches the rest. If there is any damage to the edges of the sashes, you might want to use epoxy for this, because you need these edges to be really strong. I am also removing as much paint as I can from the frame as well. Remember, this too may have lead paint. I am re-painting the pullies for the ropes, installing new cord ropes, and when its done, they look and work as good as new.

krankykitty 05-30-2008 09:00 PM

Getting some extra sashes to put in is a GREAT idea. I didn't think of that at all, and one of the reasons I have been dragging my feet is because i hated the idea of dealing with plastic sheet on the windows, lol. My sashes are in pretty good shape, so I don't think I'll have to take them apart.... 75+ year old cypress, the bugs never got to them... and there isn't more than a spot or two of rot. Mostly loose glass rattling in the glazing putting, and about a bazillion layers of paint. (and oh yeah, i bet there is lots of lead in there) Half of them have been painted shut, most of the counterweights are stuck in the wall, and as hard as it is to open the darn things, the drafts in the winter are frightful. Much to my disgust, my house still has the brakets for the storms, but they are long gone. (Though the previous owner did leave some nice screens... why she bothered, I'm not sure, cause it is TOUGH to get any of the windows open.) I put that down to the lack of counterweights, and the affore mentioned paint.

I do plan to strip the frames also, then reprime and repaint, with the good stuff, hoping I don't have to do it again too soon!

I have been collecting peices of glass from other nearby houses for a while, and the local hardware store can cut it for me to size, so I am trying to keep the old rippled stuff too.

I am debating the pros and cons of chemical stripper vs a heat gun for paint removal.. in the end, i suspect i will use a bit of both.

In any case, it's great to find someone else that wants to keep their little piece of history. The usual response I get is a dull look and, "why don't you just get vinyl windows?"

Thanks for your suggestions!

bofusmosby 05-30-2008 10:26 PM

It is good that there are others out there that want to keep the history of their houses intact. My window sashes are made of pine, and those dern termites have had a field day over the years. Its funny you should mention about the old glass you have. I too have been picking up old sashes for a number of years, just for the old glass. There is also a hardware store within walking distance from my house that also cuts my glass. I tried to cut the old glass once, and I will NEVER try that again. If you would, please let me know what kind of insulation you finally decide to use on your windows. I would be interested to find out. My house has NO insulation in it, so when the wind blows, there is a constant draft. I live in Florida, so there is usually a breeze going through my house at all times. I also plan on putting up some storm shutters, but that will have to waite for the future. I'd hate for a hurricane to come through here and blow my house down.:eek: Most of my windows are also painted shut, because of the broken cords I asume. Its good to get them working again, but for me, it'l take me years to do mine. I took on one heck of a job with this house of mine, but I don't regret it. I love history, and living in the past, well, to a certain extent. I DO like air conditioning.:laughing:

It takes a special person to restore an old house, and I am glad I'm not alone on this. I am trying to get it back to the way it was, without all the modern materials that we have today.

I have never tried paint removal with a heat gun, so I would be interested in how it works out. Good luck with yours, and glad I could help.

Take care.


Eddiedejean 06-03-2012 05:25 PM

South Louisiana window restore
I realize that this post is from 2008, but hopefully it is still monitored. I too am in South Louisiana and getting ready to restore some wooden double hung windows. I was wondering if you discovered any good tips that you would be willing to share. My windows are about 75 years old, but seem to still be in really good shape. Possibly to the ten or so layers of paint. Anyway, of you would have any tips that you would share I would be greatful. Thank you.

bofusmosby 06-03-2012 05:52 PM

Welcome to the forum Eddiedejean! Glad to hear that someone else is restoring their original windows! I would NEVER replace the originals I have. Tips? Well, that depends on how far you have to go. On many of mine, most of the work I have been doing is to repair all the termite damage that has accumulated over the years. This usually involves completely disassembling the sashes, and restoring each piece one at a time. If your are in decent shape, there probably will be no need to disassemble the sashes. If you have that much paint, you probably need to remove the paint first, before anything else. I would definitely remove the sashes to do the job right. As in my other posts, I would recommend you to get an extra set of sashes to put back in the window opening. This way, there will be no need to rush, and the window opening will be closed up. There are a number of methods to removing the old paint. REMEMBER, the chances are great that some (if not all) of the paint has lead in it, so keep the dust down to a minimum. Some just scrape, but in most cases, this will not remove all the paint. You can always use a chemical stripper, or you can use a heat gun. I would suggest that if you use a heat gun, have a fan blowing a breeze on you and your sashes. This way, there will be a minimum of fumes from the lead paint. One thing with a heat gun though, you can burn the wood very easily. I would suggest you practice on a scrap piece of wood to get the hang of it. If you have already been using a heat gun, then I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. When you sand the wood, I would only "hand sand" the sides, tops and bottoms. It is easy to remove too much wood, causing the windows to not fit correctly. If that happens, don't panic, there is a fix for that too.

Is there anything in paticular that you would like to know? If I don't have the answer, I'm sure that others will chime in that do.

user1007 06-05-2012 09:45 PM


Originally Posted by krankykitty (Post 126884)
I am debating the pros and cons of chemical stripper vs a heat gun for paint removal.. in the end, i suspect i will use a bit of both.

Look into an infrared stripper. Safe, fast and easy to use. A bit expensive but mine was one of the best and most used tools I owned. Bite the bullet and get the hands free option if you plan to use it on exterior siding. I used mine a lot stripping antique trim. When I stopped working as a painter I sold it for a more than fair price considering how much use I got out of it.

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