How to Restore a Wood Window

Written by contributing writer
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Homes built in the earliest decades of the twentieth century have a great deal of charm: high ceilings, wood floors, decorative mouldings and other elements that set them apart from modern homes and give them a great deal of charm. Along with charm, however, older homes also come with attendant difficulties. One of the more challenging aspects of older homes with original fixtures is restoring original wood frame window sashes.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Putty knife
  • Electric sander or sandpaper
  • Outdoor paint
  • Glazier's points
  • Glaze and caulking gun
  • Gloves and safety goggles

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  1. 1

    Remove the original paint. Use sandpaper, a small electric sander (like the Black and Decker Mouse Sander) or even a putty knife to scrape the original paint off of the exterior frame. Remove as much of the original paint as you can, then use sandpaper or an electric sander to smooth out the wooden frame surface to a uniform, non-flaking texture.

  2. 2

    Use a putty knife to remove the old glazing--the sealant that runs along the edge of the exterior glass pane next to the wood frame. This step requires some finesse and a gentle hand. Gently position your putty knife under the old glaze and carefully pry it up. Occasionally, there are sections of old glaze that simply refuse to budge; these are generally still viable sections of glaze, and can be left alone.

  3. 3

    Reglaze the window. Glazes are available now in both a tub and an easier-to-use tube that is applied in exactly the same fashion as a tube of caulk.

  4. 4

    Apply new glazing points. These small, metal points have both a flat end and a pointed end. Place a putty knife against the flat edge of the glazing point, and drive the pointed end into the window frame at the exterior edge, where the pane sits flush against the wood frame. Essentially, these small metal points act as braces, holding the glass pane in the window frame.

  5. 5

    If you're using glaze from a tub, scoop out a small ball of glaze, rub it in your palms to make it warm and pliable, then form it into thin strips. Apply these strips against the edge of the glass pane where it sits against the wood frame. Smooth the glaze strips with a putty knife or a dampened finger until they are smooth and flush against the joining of the wood frame and glass pane.

  6. 6

    If you're using glaze in a tube, cut off the tip just as you would with a tube of caulk, insert the tube into a caulking gun, and apply a smooth bead around the entire exterior edge of the glass pane where it meets the wood frame. Smooth the bead tightly against the joint with a moistened paper towel or fingertip until it is evenly tight against the joint.

  7. 7

    After the glaze has dried for at least 24 hours, repaint the exterior wooden frame. Use exterior paint in the colour of your choice.

Tips and warnings

  • When removing old glaze, be sure to watch out for old glazing points: these can catch on your putty knife and result in a cracked window pane.
  • Without fail, there is almost always at least one instance of broken glass in the process of restoring old wood frame windows. While it can be frustrating, it is actually a fairly simple problem to remedy. Take exact measurements of the space of the broken pane, and ask any hardware store to cut a new piece of glass to spec.
  • The paint in older homes can contain harmful lead: be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves when sanding and removing old paint.

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