Windows are a key feature of your house. They light up your home with the natural rays of the sun and keep your house properly ventilated. However, continuous exposure to the weather can cause your home’s windows to start decaying. This problem can be further aggravated if you live in a wet or humid climate where moisture can seep into the cracks and gaps of your window frame. Once rot appears on your windows, it can quickly spread and cause the entire frame to start crumbling. Even though the damage might seem irreparable, some solutions can help you restore old windows in your house.
So, if your windows have started to decay, simply take up a DIY task to restore old windows.
Why Should You Restore Old Windows?
There are three main reasons why you should restore old windows rather than replace them with new ones.
- If you have a period house, restoring old windows will preserve the historic aspect of your home.
- Restoring old windows is much more sustainable than getting new ones. This is because restoring windows requires less energy and fewer resources than installing new ones.
- It is much cheaper to restore old windows rather than purchase new ones.
Steps to Restore Old Windows on A House
Here is a comprehensive list of steps you need to take to restore old windows. Once, you are done, your windows will look brand new!
Step #1 – Investigate the Damage
Before you dive into restore old windows in your house, check the frame to ensure that it can actually be repaired. Here you will have to see how much area of a window frame has rotten. If the rot has spread to more than ten percent of the window frame, you should replace it entirely. However, if the rot hasn’t infected a large area, you can easily carry out the restoration process using epoxy products.
It’s quite easy to determine which part of your window frame is rotting. For instance, large cracks are one of the most obvious signs along with wrinkled, peeling paint, and discoloration. Moreover, rotten wood tends to become soft and spongy and you can easily feel it with your finger. However, you cannot easily see or feel all rot. In some cases, it might be covered with good wood or hidden underneath the sill. Thus, to determine the complete extent of the damage, you will have to thoroughly excavate the entire wooden frame.
To properly assess how much wood has rotten, you should go around the entire frame and apply pressure every 3 inches. You could do this task with your fingertip or use a small screwdriver or an awl. If you feel that a certain section is soft, it’s most likely due to rot. If the rot is only present on the outer frame and sill, you can easily repair it. However, if it has affected the whole window, including the interior casing, you should consider getting a new one.
Step #2 – Get the Supplies
Once you have determined that you can easily restore old windows, you need to get the necessary tools and supplies. We have made a list of all the items you will be needing throughout the process.
- A flathead screwdriver or chisel
- Drill machine
- Epoxy wood consolidant
- Epoxy wood filler
- 80- and 120-grit sandpaper
- Clean rag
- Protective gear
- Putty knife
- Paint or polish
Step #3 – Remove the Rotten Wood
In order to restore old windows in your house, you will have to start off by removing all the rotten wood. Here you will be needing a chisel or a flathead screwdriver to scrape out all the rotten sections. Prod the tip of your screwdriver or chisel inside the rotten wood and scoop it out of the frame. This task will be quite simple because the decay and rot tend to soften the wood. However, you should still work carefully so that you don’t damage the surrounding areas.
Scrape and gouge all the rotten areas until only healthy, hardwood is left behind. Make sure you remove all the decaying wood as carefully and thoroughly as you can. If you leave out any rot, it could easily spread to another section of the frame. This means your effort to restore old windows can get wasted. Once you have removed all the decaying wood, scrub the surface of the window frame with a brush to clean the debris.
Generally, rot is most likely to be found between two adjoining pieces of the wooden frame. If this is the case with your windows, then you will probably have to cut the wooden frames to make the repair.
Pro-tip: You need to extra careful while chiseling near the glass. One wrong move could cost you a lot of time and money.
Step #4 – Drill Holes into the Healthy Wood
This step is optional. However, doing it will ensure that the fillers you use in the subsequent steps are securely attached to the wood.
Here you will need to use a drilling machine with a ¼ inch bit to create holes inside the healthy wood. Make sure that you drill these holes at least an inch away from each other. Lastly, use a brush to remove the debris and dust.
Step #5 – Apply the Epoxy Wood Consolidant
This step to restore old windows requires an epoxy wood consolidant. (Make sure you only use an epoxy consolidant that is specifically designed for wooden surfaces.) Start this step by mixing your epoxy wood consolidant according to the instructions written on the label. Most epoxies have two bonding components which have to be mixed in equal proportions. Follow the procedure mentioned on the packaging to make adequate epoxy to apply to all the damaged sections. Don’t forget the properly fill in the holes you drilled in the previous section.
Pro-tip: Mix the bonding components on a surface that the epoxy won’t adhere to. For instance, you could use a plastic tarp, freezer bag, or plexiglass. Even the shiny side of a strip of packing tape is going to be work for this purpose.
Once you have prepared the epoxy wood consolidant, apply it directly over the damaged area. Make sure that you completely fill in the holes you drilled in the previous steps. Wait for approximately 4 hours to allow the wood to properly absorb the epoxy. Slather a second coat when the first one has dried. A fine layer of epoxy wood consolidant will help to strengthen the wood.
Step #6 – Apply the Epoxy Wood Filler
The application of an epoxy wood filler is one of the most important steps to restore old windows in a house. Prepare the product according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Next, apply the epoxy to the damaged section of your window and mold it according to the dimensions of your window frame. It is a good idea to apply a good amount of epoxy filler such that you slightly overfill the area. If the holes are not properly filled, there could be depressions and dents that could become apparent after painting.
To get a smooth finish, firmly press your putty knife over the filler a few times. Some epoxy filler kits come with applicator guns that allow the user to mix and apply it at the same time. However, you will still be needing a putty knife to evenly spread out the epoxy.
Wait for at least 4 -5 hours after applying the epoxy and allow it to cure. In this period, the epoxy will continue to expand and fill out the damaged area. The epoxy filler will also harden to create a strong, waterproof seal that will protect your window against unwanted moisture.
If you live in a cold or damp climate, you might even have to wait for up to 24 hours for the epoxy to cure. Avoid touching the epoxy in this period because you could possibly deform its shape and ruin all your efforts.
Step #7 – Prep the Window Frame
This is one of the final steps to restore old windows in your house. It is recommended that you use a face shield and protective eyewear in this step. Use an 80-grit sandpaper sheet to scrape off the excess epoxy filler. You could later use a 120-grit sandpaper sheet to create a smooth surface. Once you have sanded the surface, the only defect you should be able to see is the color difference between the wood and epoxy.
Use a clean rag to clean off dust particles. If you don’t properly brush off the dust particles, it could create a problem for you in the next step.
Step #8 – Paint the Windows
Congratulations! You have reached the last step to restore old windows in your house. Make sure that you pick a paint that is suitable for the exterior. This will prevent your frames from rotting or decaying. Moreover, exterior paints are better able to withstand the effect of moisture, weather, and sun exposure. A good quality exterior paint will also protect the healthy wood and the epoxy filler.
Ideally, you should apply at least 2 coats of paint over the epoxy filler and wood. This will ensure that you get full coverage and the color will also remain consistent throughout.
Now that you know how to restore old windows, you can start right away!