Repairs & Restoration
Older, solid wooden, windows and doors are different from what is offered by today’s marketplace in both what they offer asthetically and in that they may be repaired. Although, we cannot say this on the whole for the modern replacement industry, those of us with generally small carpentry shops and being skilled in restoration grade epoxies have found the work generally leads to the feeling of restoring back to a ‘high condition’. The repair techniques handed down to us by masters in carpentry (Thank-you Ira Krall, David Bremer, Mike Mullinix, and Frank Hickernell) are employed with that sense of craftsmanship which gives us satisfaction in knowing our work will last for another hundred years.
The amount of repair necessary will depend on two factors. The first is how well wooden windows and doors have been protected from the elements. The second is the degree of finished quality desired.
Protection from the natural elements has been the working focus of the architect and tradesmen (specifically painters, those metal smiths who create flashing, masons, and finish carpenters) for centuries. When sufficient protective overhang was not included in design, the necessity for superior protective flashing work (or storm windows/door) is a likely imperitive. Proper flashing or protective rain drips are missing in many projects we’ve look at and so the windows and doors, and their moldings, often show premature rot. With these small details included, wooden windows and doors can be kept from the small amount of continuous moisture needed to establish the necessary condition for fungi to grow, and so they may have the adequate condition to last as they should, without rotting, provided they get proper maintenance.
Maintenance of the paint and glazing is particularly important to those units that form the primary barrier to the elements and have no storm protection. Simple failure of paint and glazing materials will allow moisture in, with the same results as written of above. What separates antique windows and doors from those in the modern market is generally the selection of materials used by the makers. I often hear the comment, ‘you can’t get wood like they had back then’. Although this is largely true, and we know by our experience that antique sash are rarely damaged beyond repair because of the quality of the material in their making, it is no excuse for what many modern makers use as standard material (Ponderosa Pine). The choice of many large replacement window companies to use these materials, along with the limited technology of the insulated glass unit, suggests they are designing sash intentionally to be replaced periodically instead of simply being maintained.
The finished quality found after our work is completed will vary depending on budget for the project. Simple repairs followed by cleaning and painting will restore the function and brighten up elements that were before in obvious dilapidation and now look many times better. For those who step close to the subject (and examine the details of profile, hardware, and paint finish) the preparation for and application of finishes will add substantially to labor.