The Ultimate Window Restoration and Upgrade Guide: How to Transform Your Old Window

Kudos on wanting or even considering restoring your old window rather than throwing it away! This is one of the projects that any DIYer would be tempted to take on because of how rewarding it is.

Your old window is still standing today for a reason. Unlike today’s products, old designs and wood quality were made to last for a long time. Thus, sprucing up your old window can make it more valuable than ever.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you get through this exciting project. So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get going!

What Tools Do You Need for Window Restoration?

First things first, the tools you’ll require fall into two categories. The first category is safety gear, which you must have before starting work. The other section includes the main tools you’ll need for carrying out this project.

The safety category exists primarily to protect you from lead exposure, which can result in lead poisoning. Homes built before 1978 in the US are likely to have lead-based paint on the windows.

Since lead poisoning is usually caused by inhaling or ingesting lead particles, you should be extremely cautious in the presence of its dust. That’s why, if your lead-painted windows didn’t peel or crack, we recommend leaving them as they are. You can even paint on them if you want.

In contrast, if the paint starts to peel, you should take it off and repaint it. If you’re unsure whether your window contains lead, you can schedule a lead inspection with a professional.

Now that we’ve cleared up the “lead situation,” let’s get you familiarized with the tools you’ll need:

Safety Gear

Plastic floor covering

Overalls and gloves

Safety glasses

Efficient respirators, such as HEPA-filtered respirators

Dust collection hose or, ideally, a HEPA vacuum

Window Restoration Tools

Wood chisel – make sure it isn’t too sharp or it’ll gouge the wood frame

Pull scraper

Putty knife

Razor knife

Chemical stripper / Heat gun / Paint shaver

Wood filler

Wood glue

Orbital sander

Sandpaper, Grit 120 to 180

Mineral turpentine

Window paint

Glazing putty

Window glazing points

Step-by-Step Guide to Window Restoration

Take all safety precautions in all of the steps below if your windows are covered in lead paint or if you’re unsure.

Wear protective gear, cover the floor with a plastic sheet, and remove any surrounding furniture. Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and that you vacuum and dispose of the vacuum bag regularly.

We’ve arrived at the exciting part of this article! Here are the six major steps for restoring a window:

Step 1: Remove Stops and Sash

Removing a double-hung window is a pretty straightforward task. First, remove the stops, which are usually located alongside the jamb. To cut through paint and caulk, use a box cutter or a putty knife. In some cases, the stops can be nailed down; if this is the case, unscrew them gently.

The bottom sash is the second part that you’ll remove. Insert a putty knife between the meeting rails until the paint seal breaks. When the bottom sash comes loose, remove it from the window stool.

Get out the ropes while you’re at it, and be aware that they can sometimes be nailed, so make sure to remove the nails first. Mark the bottom sash so you don’t mix them up when reinstalling, and then proceed to pull the top sash.

To remove the top sash, break all the paint seals surrounding it with a razor knife. Then, as it loosens, move it down to the window stool and mark it.

Step 2: Take Out the Glass

It’s better to remove the glass from windows before beginning any work to avoid breaking it. Detach all the putty around them with a chisel. To remove stubborn paint, you can use a pull scraper, but be careful not to break any glass or wood in the process.

Number each glass pane you remove because they’re not always symmetrical.

Step 3: Strip the Paint

To achieve a clean finish, you’ll want to strip all of the old paint from your window. There are multiple methods for removing the paint. However, your preference and the original window paint type will influence which technique you use.

If it was painted with regular paint, you can remove it with a heat gun or paint shaver. If your window paint contains lead, you should use a chemical stripper. Because chemical strippers bind to the paint, they eliminate the possibility of lead dust getting anywhere.

Step 4: Repair the Wood

Examine the frame for cracks or flimsy parts. Fill any cracks with a high-quality wood filler and use wood glue to join the flimsy pieces.

When the frame is dry and secure, sand it to get a flawlessly smooth finish. Even out the surface with an orbital sander and sandpaper. Be careful not to sand so much that you end up with a smaller frame!

Step 5: Paint

Before you start painting, make sure the window is completely clean. Remove all debris and dust with a vacuum cleaner. Then, soak a surface towel in mineral turpentine and use it to clean the frame.

To protect and preserve this window for as long as possible, apply at least three coats of paint. Make sure that each coat is thin and even, not thick and bumpy. Some people prefer not to paint the window’s sides, top, and bottom inner edges, which is perfectly fine.

Step 6: Install Glass Panes

Let’s get those glass panes back in there before we call it a day! Install each glass pane according to the numbers you marked earlier. Use window glazing points to secure them in place.

Once that’s done, work some glazing putty in your hands until it’s soft and smooth. Next, apply it to the glass frame’s edges, where the wood frame and glass meet. Then, using a putty knife, scrape away any excess glazing putty, and viola!

Finally, you’ve finished your old window makeover, and from where we’re standing, we can tell it was well worth it.

Final Word

Be patient and take your time; after all, you’re working with wood and glass, so hurrying isn’t the way to go. Additionally, because we know you’ll need this priceless makeover to last a long time, we suggest you use high-quality materials rather than cheap ones.

Overall, window restoration is a two-day project with long-term financial and meaningful gains!

It is important that you don’t drill too close to the windows.