Renovation handbook for your windows
Windows sometimes need a lot of work to keep them looking and functioning at their best. You may be tempted to completely replace your old windows and blinds with modern ones, like VELUX.
Additionally, older windows were often built to last, and unless you spend a lot of money that isn’t always the case with more modern styles. Fixing up your existing window, giving it a fresh coat of paint and adding new fittings (curtains, blinds, shutters) might be the best way to bring it back to life and brighten up your room.
Changing the glass
The most difficult part of renovating any window is replacing the pane. The first thing you’ll need to do is take out the old glass. Before doing anything, change into thick protective clothes and gloves, and wear goggles. If the glass is already broken, sweep away any fragments on the floor and lay down some cloth. Then carefully remove all the existing glass, scrape off old putty and remove metal glazing points. The grooves where the new pane will fit need to be clean and smooth; use a wire brush and vacuum, wipe down and coat with linseed oil.
Carefully measure the space in at least two places, and order a pane that is an eighth of an inch shorter in each dimension. Unless you’re replacing a very small space, go for double thick and/or shatterproof glass. Apply a thin line of putty and press it in with a putty knife, then gently press in the glass, making sure it’s completely flat against the rabbet. Press another string of putty about three-quarters of an inch thick against the glass and frame. Press this down gently with a putty knife that has been coated with linseed oil. Draw the knife along the line of the window to smooth down the putty.
Simply replacing a dowdy pair of curtains can be sufficient to give a window a completely new look. You could go for blinds or some stunning DIY shutters to transform your room’s appearance. If you don’t want to be quite so radical then just thinking about the colour and thickness of your curtains can be enough to give the space a completely different feel. A fresh coat of paint on the window frame and windowsill can also work wonders.
Sash window problems
A commonly encountered problem is if a sash window won’t open because it has been painted shut. Using a zipper tool to score a line down the frame can usually break the surface enough to fix this. Otherwise, try wedging two putty knives between the sash and the stop, and then placing a chisel between them. Tap the chisel lightly with a hammer until the window is forced open.
Dried-up paint can be removed with a scraper and chisel, and then the frame can be cleaned with a wire brush, vacuumed and sanded. Lubricate the window channel with candle wax or paraffin for a smooth glide.
Good windows will last for centuries with proper maintenance. Most jobs you can do yourself with just a bit of basic know-how, but even if you have to call in a carpenter or glass fitter it’s still cheaper and less trouble than a complete replacement.