HOUSE: Newburgh

Restored dining room window.

While we’re all waiting, I thought I’d show you one of the projects I’ve been working on for the past few weeks—repairing and restoring the large (55″x78″) 4-pane window in our dining room.

Unless you’ve repaired an old window yourself (particularly one of this size), it’s hard to understand the amount of work that goes into a job like this—scraping, patching, sanding, filling, caulking, glazing, weighting, nailing, gluing, painting…etc. I definitely never knew what was involved before we bought this house! Windows are persnickety things, but the great thing about an old window is that it can be repaired. I take pride in our house’s 125-year-old windows, and the strong, old-growth wood that went into building them. Not a single sash in this house has ever been replaced, and most of the panes are the original wavy glass. It’s beautiful when the light comes through them, bending here and there and making soft ripples in the view. I would never consider replacing them.

Beauty and history aside, these old windows are unbearably drafty if not maintained well. Caulking gaps, filling rotted areas with epoxy, and adding weatherstripping makes more of a difference than you might think. Hopefully the hours I logged working on this window will translate to a few bucks saved on oil this winter!

I also stripped the original cast iron lock (in a future post, I’ll show you how to easily strip old hardware!), which was covered with so much paint that it no longer closed. I love the details even on the simplest things in old houses. And did you know that the purpose of locks on old windows is not to provide security? They’re actually there to hold the sashes together tightly, keeping them from rattling in the wind and stopping air from entering between them. When they’re attached in the right position, they do their job very well.

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  • Reply Deleilan November 4, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Gorgeous old hardware, and so ornate! I enjoy reading how you treasure your home’s history, it’s almost like a love story.

  • Reply chrispito November 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Stunning. Good work!

  • Reply belinda November 4, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    great job anna!. you must have so much patience.

  • Reply LethaColleen November 4, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Oh gosh — look @ that iron lock… Bea-u-ti-ful. Worth the effort to restore it for sure! Thanks for sharing your remodel/restoration sagas! 🙂

  • Reply Courtney November 4, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    The window lock looks beautiful- so ornate! I love (and am envious) that you get to live in a house with such history (and get to still have its original-I assume?- windows!)

  • Reply Michelle November 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I can’t wait to see your tutorial for stripping old hardware. Ours is 90+ years old and we have a lot of hardware that could use a good clean up.

  • Reply Stef Noble November 4, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Yay wood window restoration! I love reglazing windows… simultaneously tedious and satisfying. Also, anytime I get to use the phrase “phenolic microballoons” in reference to filler materials for patching wood.

  • Reply Adam November 4, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Great work Anna! You must be so proud, this really is a testament to the love you have for your home!

  • Reply Benita November 5, 2008 at 2:14 am

    I love those sash windows! We don’t have them at all over here. Great job! As you know I know exactly what amount of work goes in to restoring old windows…

    Also, contratulations on your new President!!! That’s so great! I just sat and watched his speech at 6 am as I woke up.

  • Reply Orange Pattern November 5, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Well worth the effort. It’s awesome.

  • Reply Tara November 5, 2008 at 9:13 am

    Beautiful job! You’ve given me hope that it can be done.

  • Reply erin@designcrisis November 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I really want to move into your house. All of your renovations are so inspiring… and I loooove old houses!

  • Reply heather November 5, 2008 at 11:44 am

    So jealous! 😉 It looks amazing and I too can’t wait for the tutorial. I have a lot of old crusty hardware…

  • Reply Rachel November 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm


  • Reply lisa November 5, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    are those the kind of windows with weighted pulleys?

    i grew up with windows like that and i recall the sound the weights would make against the interior casing.

    found this website a while back when researching maine.

  • Reply Michelle November 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Beautiful restoration! I can’t wait to read your post on stripping off the finish on old hardware. I have an old built-in china cabinet in my dining room that needs lot of TLC. The old hardware is beautiful and very ornate (much like your window hardware) but someone painted over it–the horror!! I’ve been putting off this project because I was dreading the stripping part…but it seems you may have a fabulous solution to my problem.

    Love your blog. Last year my husband and I bought an old farmhouse in VT and we’re s-l-o-w-l-y trying to repair and renovate it. Your posts have been very helpful and the work you’ve done is just amazing. Oh, and thanks to you, I’m following your friend Adam’s progress, too. He’s doing some great work as well. Thanks for sharing all your information with all of us.

  • Reply ahj November 6, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Do you use storm windows? Just wondering. I grew up with original windows (with original glass), fully restored, and they didn’t do a great job of keeping heat in. I like the aesthetic, though.

  • Reply Anna at D16 November 6, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Lisa: Yes, the sashes moves with weighted pulleys. And I love the sound of the weights banging around inside!

    ahj: We do have storm windows, but they are old, ugly, and inefficient aluminum triple-tracks. They do protect the windows, but don’t do much in the way of keeping out drafts. We’re hoping to get new “invisible” storm windows at some point when we have the money to spare! Most the air leakage associated with old windows actually comes from gaps around the frame, though, so I’ve tried to insulate and caulk those spaces as much as possible. Spring bronze weatherstripping in the sash channels helps a lot, too.

  • Reply Sarah November 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Please please please post a detailed tutorial on how you repair your windows! My home was built in 1950 and has all original windows, except for in the bath. Most are in various stages of disrepair, and I would love to learn how to fix them up. Every book or website I’ve looked at on the subject is confusing and full of “window jargon” that I don’t understand. 🙁

    And PLEASE tell how you restore your hardware! My kitchen cabinets have fantastic atomic-ish pulls on them, but some are rusty and some have been painted over. I would love to restore them.

  • Reply Jessica November 6, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    This is awesome! I am really impressed with all the projects you tackle around your house. Did you already know how to do all this stuff, or are you learning as you go?

  • Reply apartment tbd, etc November 6, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    i had no idea it took that much work – but the outcome is beautiful and well worth it – and those locks, stripped to their original appearance – stunning!

  • Reply Shashi November 7, 2008 at 10:48 am

    I’m seriously having window envy right now.

  • Reply RIchtsje November 9, 2008 at 9:57 am

    One of the great treasures to find when owning an old house is to discover all the talents you have!
    Here you did a great job – again.
    Nice windows too, hardly found in the Netherlands!

  • Reply LibertyD8 November 17, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    The window looks brilliant. I love original sash windows and your hard work has really paid off!

  • Reply Elissa November 19, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Beautiful job! I have quite a few windows that will need restoring in our new old (90+ years) house. I hope mine will turn out as nice as yours! How do you find the time and energy with a commute as long as yours?

  • Reply Jan November 22, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Amazing. I have never seen windows like this before.

  • Reply Peter December 15, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Anna, I’m still waiting on that hardware restore post! Let’s see it!? Please?

    —Peter from San Francisco.

  • Reply jaclyn April 15, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Please please give a detailed account of window restoration!! I need to have this addressed in our house since the windows circa 1910 are more like sieves.
    Your windows give me hope of not having to resort to tacky replacements. Help!

  • Reply Lori September 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Beauiful job. It takes dedication and love to take on these projects. I have been in my 1911 home for 10 years and still have 6 windows to go before all the top sashes are free and the weights are back on. I have most reglazed and now its time to look at invisible storms to protect them. I immediately removed all 21 triple tracks and the vinyl siding when I bought this house, I don’t miss the the ugly looks of the storms but the original sashes sure do benefit from the protection I have windows that need repainted and glazed AGAIN due to not having storms. Did you ever get pricing on the invisible storms and which manufacturer?

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