Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Window #3!

One of my favorite things to do is work on things around our house. I love that it's old, even though that means astronomical heating bills in the winter. And pipes that need to be worked on every couple of months. And doors that don't close right - or at all for that matter. And un-doing 100+ years of "re-decorating" that various owners have done. I waffle back and forth about making the house truly ours or restoring it to what it probably was in its prime. Paint the woodwork or strip it? Replace the windows or restore them?

I posted awhile ago about starting on the window restoration. It's a VERY involved process, but overall isn't hard. Just time consuming. When you have two little ones running around all summer, time is one of those luxuries you just don't get much of. Luckily, this summer, my kids played together better than they ever have before, and we developed a very healthy give and take relationship! I would take them to the playground or the lake for a couple of hours in the morning and then I would work on the windows for a couple of hours in the afternoon while they played on their own. I think it worked out pretty well!

Considering it takes about one month from start to finish to restore a window, I accomplished a huge amount in getting eight complete windows done while still enjoying summer with the kids. For all of you inquiring minds who are just dying to know - here's the process from start to finish:
Step 1 - removing the window. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? WRONG! When you have 123 years of paint on the window, trim and everything else around, sometimes removing the window was the hardest part! All that's involved is basically removing some of the interior trim around the window and the bottom one comes right out. The upper ones were a bit more of a hassle, but with a little (or a lot) persuasion and some taps with the hammer, out they came.

Step 2 - stripping the window of all paint and putty (otherwise known as glazing). If I hadn't stumbled upon a used Silent Paint Remover for sale, I would probably still be at this stage on the first window...The SPR is the BEST tool ever invented! It basically works like a heat gun, only using infrared heat. It softens the paint so that it can just be scraped right off. Usually one pass with the SPR and I was scraping right down to the bare wood! That was a wonderful sight considering I spent 4 months stripping the woodwork in the guest room. After the paint is all off, you have to chip away at the putty. Most of the time with the SPR, it would be soft enough to just scrape it out too, but sometimes it was pretty stubborn and took some real elbow grease - all with trying NOT to break the glass!

Step 3 - removing the glass. After all of the paint and putty has been scraped away, the trickiest part is finding the glazing points - little metal diamond shapes that actually hold the glass into the wood frames. Occasionally I missed on and cracked a piece or two of glass, but when you're removing 29 panes of glass, 2 or 3 broken ones isn't too bad :)

Step 4 - priming the frame. Enough said.

Step 5 - Reinstalling the glass. This is where some people reinstall the panes of glass, the glazing points and then apply new putty. But, after my first window (and a conversation with my dad!) I decided to check with the glass shop in town to see how much they would charge me just to reinstall the glass and the putty. Lucky me! The charge was only $2 per pane. Well worth the hours of work it saved me!

Step 6 - waiting. Yes, this is an actual step :) Once the new putty is in, it can't be painted until it has skinned over. This actually takes about 3 weeks in mild humidity. July in Minnesota is not typically mildly humid :) This summer I got lucky and didn't have to wait much past the 3 weeks to continue working.

Step 7 - prime and paint!

Step 8 - Reinstall the window! YAY! I was so excited when the time came to install the first restored window! It took me ALL DAY, but I finally got it in. Putting new rope through the pulleys so that the window weights actually work is the worst part of the job. It takes quite awhile and has to be done so the weights hang and balance the windows when they're opened or closed. It keeps us from having to have prop rods in EVERY SINGLE WINDOW! The most important part of this whole process is installing weatherstripping! That's right! We survived a cold Minnesota winter with no weatherstripping around our windows! We're anxious to see what a difference it makes - especially in Britney's office which was one of the draftiest rooms.

So, if you're still reading, congratulations! You now know how to restore any old or new wooden windows that are in need of a little TLC. Now, when are you coming to help me?? I only have 32 more windows to go! By the way - I chose the red for the windows to go with our red gingerbread roof that I HATE! But, at least the red windows make me think the house is now smiling a little :)


agirlinawhirl said...

I've done a few of those myself...but now I'm really tired after reading that. However, if I ever need to tell someone how to do it, I'll just refer them to your blog. It will save me a lot of time..LOL. It looks great. Good Job!

Lisa said...

I am thoroughly impressed!

Anonymous said...

Hey Lara, I can't believe the little worrier I used to know is now remodeling houses. I am SO proud of you.I probably wouldn't try what you are doing. They look great. Told mom at supper I wished we were up there to help ,since I seem to have a LOT of time to do nothing. You are something else. Love you, Dad