Window Restoration Workshop Wrap-Up

Are you a Member yet? JOIN NOW to support the Des Moines Rehabbers Club!

On April 25 & 26th, The Des Moines Rehabbers Club hosted a window restoration workshop taught by guest instructor, David Wadsworth of Wadsworth Construction. Twenty restoration enthusiasts from across the state came to learn all the steps of restoring a double hung wood window from start to finish. We were pleased that the class included people from Main Street development groups, and at least one statewide preservation organization. All of our participants were enthusiastic and eager to jump in, so the class was a lot of fun!

David began the instruction at Historic Hatton House, which was our host site for demonstration windows. Homeowner Tanya Keith had provided David with some sashes in advance and prepped a second window so David could demonstrate how to remove a window.

The tool David is seen holding here is called a window opening blade. Its serrated edges go between the sash and the frame, scraping away built up paint on a window that’s been painted shut.

10303755_10201870150740198_3907331655157420034_n

David demonstrated how to pull the stops off the front of the window to release the sashes from the frame.

10294485_10201870144340038_7477973176603568125_n

10252183_10201870144740048_3019868599959941054_n

This sash he pulled out would need to have the paint removed, the wood repaired, new glazing compound, stain, and sealant. We got hands-on training on all of those steps, as well as instructions about how to prepare the frame the sashes would go back into.

10250307_10201870145340063_8124396648154964909_n

This is what the window frame looked like. Tanya has refinished other parts of the woodwork in her house and explained that this is shellac varnish. The bumpy dark parts will come off with denatured alcohol, steel wool, and rags. Then it can be refinished with the stain and sealant of your choice. Not all woodwork of this age or condition is shellac, but a good way to find out is to test denatured alcohol on it. If that takes the finish off then you know you’ve got shellac. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to use another method of chemical, heat, or sanding to strip and refinish it.

Once we had the window sashes out we moved the whole class to Silent Rivers Design + Build. They generously opened their workshop for us. We handed out Tyvek suits to everyone since we’d be disturbing a lot of lead paint dust. We also provided lead-safe respirators.

10264843_10201870148020130_7966306678027360573_n 2014-04-26 08.31.23

Step one was paint removal. David demonstrated two methods of paint removal. These methods also worked to remove the old glazing putty too. We needed to get the windows stripped down so we could remove the glass and put new glazing compound in to make a good seal. One method was to use heat guns to soften the paint so it could be scraped.

2014-04-26 09.46.50 2014-04-26 09.34.16 2014-04-26 09.55.43

The other method used a homemade steaming device that loosed the paint without releasing harmful fumes into the air.David has a steam box that he puts window sashes into at his shop. This homemade steamer is made from a clothing steamer, a section of plastic pipe, some bolts to hold it all together, and a large towel to trap the steam. David says that leaving a section to steam for about 20 minutes will soften most paint enough to scrape.

10177326_10201870147340113_8022103147661434163_n

2014-04-26 09.47.28

Once the old paint and glazing putty were removed David demonstrated re-setting the glass in the window and applying new glazing compound to create a weather-repellent seal.

10294245_10201870148860151_8860278043752851_n

10264556_10201870148620145_5366657836935944480_n

Our class participants tried their hand at applying glazing compound.

10155550_10201870149340163_3635800707269340380_n

We learned the difference between two commonly available window glass options. If the window sash allows for the extra space, double thickness glass is often recommended.

1897910_10201870149060156_4476712245770930314_n

After we learned about glazing, David gave us a demonstration on restoring old weathered wood using a two-part epoxy treatment from Abatron.

1604864_10201870125979579_2315739599364753079_n10298883_10201870150260186_1029710695165875358_n

Apparently, the epoxy can be colored with powdered pigment if you want to stain it to match, rather than painting over it.

10169301_842428262437808_2370177352413353586_n

David’s favorite go-to book about wood epoxy repair is “Wood-Epoxy Repairs” by John Leeke.

1382405_10201870149860176_3873400049188534682_n

David’s preferred paint for windows is Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Primer and Sherwin Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex.

10250166_10201870158540393_3652129496240511002_n

Back at the Hatton House we learned about re-installing the window, including some tips for making pulley wheels less squeaky. David recommends 3-in-1 Oil.

1010705_10201870158220385_979303526348775105_n

We’re going to continue gathering window restoration resources here on our website, so check back often, and if you have specific questions, please email info@RenovateDSM.org or check out our Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/groups/dsmrc