Thursday, January 2, 2014

MB Eye Candy: Episode 2 - Double Hung Restoration

So happy with the double hung windows after I restored them. It was a lot of work, but worth it. Old windows were made to last.. and hopefully these will stay intact for another 100 years. We've got outdoor storm windows that helped keep the original windows from totally rotting out over the years of neglect, but some were still pretty messed up. 

Let me get on my soapbox for a minute.. Old historic windows are definitely worth saving. The difference in return on investment alone is huge when you compare the cost of rehab versus the cost of retrofitting in new windows. Seriously, people have done the analysis on both cost and performance. A tightly sealed single pane double hung window with a storm performs almost as good, if not better than some modern double pane windows. So, rather than tearing out the old and installing some expensive new ones that will probably need to be replaced in less than 15 years.. put some elbow grease in and fix'em up!  

See, our windows were in pretty rough shape... One of the previous owners had a tiny dog or something that gnawed away the inside detail on some of the rails.. thanks anonymous annoying tiny rodent dog hybrid...

Can't see much in this pic, but it took a bit of work to free the windows from their entombment in 100 years of paint.

  After I got the windows out it was time to get to work on stripping and rebuilding.
I managed to free them all without breaking the old glass... but I did end up breaking two pieces when started to clean them up...replacing that old stuff isn't cheap, even if you find an old window to salvage from.

They cleaned up nicer than I expected. Remember to properly ventilate and wear a respirator... old paint is really nasty (read: lead and toxic fumes when stripping with heat) Unfortunately when the outside storms were installed, I believe they cut the outside parts of the rails and probably ruined the trim...Thanks anonymous cheap storm window installer...

Another cleanup shot.

My window steam oven! 
Not an original idea.. I stole it from Dave Bowers (See my resource links below). Just slapped a box together and pumped a wallpaper steamer into the back of it.

The window steam oven sped up my restoration process tremendously!! The old putty came off like butter after sitting in it for a few minutes!! It even helped with some of the outer layers of paint. You have to be careful and not gouge the wood after, the steamer makes it soft until it cools and dries out. It is also good to coat the inside, where the new glazing will meet the wood, with boiled linseed oil.. it helps with the glaze curing process.

Historic windows were designed so that individual parts could be repaired or replaced if damaged.. and I took full advantage of that fact. I had to pull some of them completely apart to rehab correctly.. Most new ones really can't be taken apart and must be replaced as a whole unit... or very rarely, sent back to the manufacturer for repair. Just part of the out with the old and in with the new mindset that too many of us have become accustomed to... and also the adoption of cheap goods that really can't be repaired at all.

Glazing takes a little while to get the hang of, I found it therapeutic after my third window... seriously better than striping paint.

 All stacked up and ready for priming! 
It takes a while for the glaze to skin over.. so plan for that.. like A WHILE... seriously.

I used SAMSON brand sash cord as replacements. It seemed an exact match to the cords that I was replacing. Also, I had to use small Fletcher diamond points because of how thin the muntins were and how steep my glazing needed to be. I looked for them forever, and then I found them at my local downtown hardware store, Lewters! BigBox 0, Mom&Pop 1.

Found this felt weatherstripping at Lewters also.. gave me an idea.

I needed to weatherstrip my old double hung windows because they were loose and rattled in their channels.. I didn't want to put the plastic or rubber stuff on them, as it would wear out and crack up in a few years. I didn't want to modify the windows anymore and install the metal channel weatherstripping. I also couldn't source it that easily, so I decided to use the felt! I tacked it on the backsides of the parting strips and interior stops that met the sash. I also put it on the backside of the interior meeting rail and the on the upper top sash and lower bottom sash. Presto! It worked out so well!! It snugs up the windows and seals the windows up better than expected. A cheap and minimally invasive weather proofing solution. It also blends in very well.. doesn't look out of place.

I sealed up the sash weight pockets pretty well also, leaving room for the sash weights. You can remove the weights and install spring loaded pulls and other things.. not cool in my opinion. Also, a tip I learned from watching Tom Silva at This Old House retrofit lots of windows.. You can seal the gaps between the wall and the jambs with metal duct tape. Just another trick to really sealing the old windows as tightly as possible. Ultimately, windows are just poorly insulated holes in a wall.... so every little bit helps.

Definite improvement from what we started with.

Doesn't it look so much better!

Double Hung Window Restoration
Dave Bowers makes it all look easy!
Save Old Windows, Save Money, Be Toasty
National Park Services Opinion
North Carolina compiled some resources

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