I mean really! Why is it such a big honkin’ deal to preserve your bungalow wood windows? If you’re lucky enough to have wood windows in your bungalow that aren’t painted shut, the dang ropes are broken, the wood is rotting & there’s a cracked pane or two. Rain is getting in, maybe it has for some time. Not to mention heat & cold. What’s to preserve?
And people are so vehement about it, either way. On the old house FB groups there’s a ridiculous amount of high volume contention coming from both sides. And I don’t believe any claims made about the loose morals of anybody’s mother.
Anyway, it’s so-o-o-o easy to just pick up the phone, call a Big Box store (or one of the window companies that relentlessly pop up on your phone because you have searched for window solutions) & presto, you can get nice new ones installed, maybe even out of a fabulous new, no-maintenance material- vinyl. They provide the product, the labor & a 15-year warranty. With increased R-value. And you can pay with a credit card. Poof! Good-bye to peeling, leaking, moldy windows in your lovely bungalow!
SORRY, BUT HERE’S WHY YOU SHOULD PRESERVE YOUR BUNGALOW WOOD WINDOWS
The Preservation Brief 17 of the Heritage Preservation Services’ section of the U.S. Department of the Interior, is called, “Architectural Character—Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving their Character.” It provides a process to identify the visual characteristics that give a building its unique style- Dutch Revival, Colonial, Mid-Century or, tah-dah!- a bungalow. It explains how the visual character is most frequently determined by the often-related surface qualities of the materials & craftsmanship. The original choice of materials often plays the dominant role in determining an architectural style.
Well, old bungalow wood windows are made of exactly that- wood. An added factor to this is that they are made of old growth wood which is harder, denser & more rot resistant than any windows made today out of farmed, quick-growth wood. They have a particular set of lite patterns & they operate in the same fashion.
But none of this solves your own peeling, leaking, moldy problem so let’s see if I can help.
HOW TO FIND PROFESSIONAL WOOD WINDOW RESTORERS
These are some dedicated folk who live their lives in service of old windows. How do you find one? Or for that matter, any tradesperson sensitive to historic materials?
1. Live in an old neighborhood? You probably have a neighborhood association that could offer suggestions. If you don’t know if there is one, your City website can tell you. They usually have neighborhood departments. If you don’t find one, try groups in nearby historic areas.
2. Call your local historic preservation advocacy group. I have a woefully incomplete list of them here, but promise that I am working on expanding it.
3. Call your city preservation office for referrals. If you don’t have one, try county or state.
4. The old stand-by- Google. As with all the ablove sources, it is important to have some knowledge of wood window repair before you start to talking to repair companies. They will appreciate your interest & be better able to help you understand what they will be doing. You’ll be better able to ensure that you get the project that you want.
5. SEE JOHN LEEKE’S BOOK BELOW.
In his book, John Lists over 200 wood window repair pro’s all over the U.S.
DIRECTORY OF WOOD WINDOW PRO’S
Wood Preservation Alliance
A group formed to help homeowners who wish to save their windows with professionals who can provide the needed services. They also offer great information on window restoration & train the pro’s in further mastering the trade. They have a page in which you can enter your state & find windows professionals. Many of these guys work in more than one state & even those who don’t are not usually opposed to traveling.
These tradespeople tend to be booked far in advance so I would suggest that you contact them even before you have an executed contract on your house. I have included DIY information for you in case you get tired of waiting. I always encourage people to learn about the various trades required to keep an old house in good shape. You’ll get a better project & you will just feel better about old house stewardship.
John Leeke’s book below also includes a directory.
As always, use my tips on hiring a contractor to minimize your risk, as well as your own perceptions, experience & smarts when you choose the people for this task. I don’t know these people & I’m not recommending them, just pointing!
LEARNING HOW REPAIR THE WOOD WINDOWS IN YOUR BUNGALOW
I am not a hands-on preservationist, but I am a maniac researcher, so when I needed to preserve my bungalow wood windows, I got help from the pro’s to teach my carpenter how to do it. So, here’s how you can learn & either DIY or, teach someone else with a greater strength & a higher aptitude for construction & more of a willingness to get dirty.
I strongly recommend that anyone hiring a professional know something about the process so you will experience fewer surprises. It will also help you understand the high price tag of this exacting, multi-step process. Or, you could teach your handy-man!
BOOKS ON HOW TO PRESERVE WOOD WINDOWS
Old Windows In-Depth
by Scott Sidler
Scott is a master preservation professional & has written a detailed guide on window restoration. The guide is a clearly written, tutorial showing each tiny step written for the homeowner.
Old Windows In-Depth is nearly 200 pages of picture filled tutorials detailing all of the major information that you’ll need to successfully restore any historic wood or steel window.
The predecessor to this book is the one I used to teach my carpenter how to repair my windows. Scott is very aware of all the little crunchie bits that go into restoring a window that are part of his DNA (Sorry if that’s a weird picture.) but are totally new to us. We didn’t run into any mystery parts or steps that just didn’t work. Learning from Scott’s materials was smooth as silk.
The Window Sash Bible
by Mr. Steve Jordan
Read this book to learn why most replacements are unnecessary & why your existing windows will serve you better than any replacements.
Whether you are a homeowner hiring tradesmen, or a DIY-er, this book will teach you how to evaluate your windows & plan & execute the needed repairs.
The book introduces you to the history of windows & teaches you about all the pieces & parts so that you can discuss your windows with tradespeople & fully understand what they are telling you about them.
The basics of wood repair are explained in detail from removing sashes, to installing sash cords to, to replacing glass & muntins to weather-sealing.
Save America’s Windows
by John Leeke
177 pages, 257 illustrations.
John is the O.G. of wood window repair as well all the other trades related to historic preservation.
This book is the new, 2013 edition which covers the newest in high-tech window materials & techniques in addition to traditional methods. He gives you step-by-step instructions in how to maintain & how to repair old wood windows.
Here’s another cool part: He includes a National directory of 200+ window specialists who know how to repair your windows instead of selling you cheap quality windows that you will have to replace in a decade.
And another: If you follow this link, you can request for him to send you digital downloads that you can you right now.
Dare I add one more? He includes his phone number so that you can order directly from him & ask him any questions plaguing your mind about windows.
ON-LINE WOOD WINDOW RESTORATION LEARNING
The Window Course, a step-by-step course to teach you everything you need to successfully restore historic wood windows. You’ll get written posts and dozens of videos for every part of the process. You can see a preview on this page. It shows printed steps & a video demonstrating his tried & true techniques.
Scott offers 3 packages, the most comprehensive of which is about ½ the price of having a window professionally restored. Now, like my own delicate self, you may have an aversion to getting your hands dirty & want to hire someone. You still need to know how to do this! There are many trades for which you will hire people on blind faith & Google reviews, & have no clue whatsoever about the quality of their work. This is not one of those trades. You can learn this & I suggest that you do before you fork over good money to a stranger.
As I mentioned, I used Scott’s book to teach a carpenter how to do this & I learned right along with him. Had Scott offered this video & book package then, I would have bought the ‘spensive one to gain the certainty that would have made the project less overwhelming.
Many local preservation organizations offer workshops in wood window restoration. I recommend that you become a member so that you can stay informed of every program that they produce or promote. Follow me on Facebook because I try to announce workshops of various topics there.
Belvedere School for Hands-On Preservation
For decades Bob Yapp has delivered hands-on preservation workshops all over the U.S. In 2008 he founded the Belvedere School in Hannibal, Missouri where he trains students to be artisans in the historic preservation trades.
His school is housed in a 5-story. 7,950 square foot 1859 Italianate house which was in deplorable condition when he discovered it. He has used it as a laboratory to teach students hands-on restoration skills. Now that the house is mostly restored, itself is mostly restored, his students now do the hands-on work on their neighbor’s neighbor’s historic houses in the Central Park National Historic District in Hannibal, Missouri.
If you are ready for a totally immersive experience, attend a workshop at whatever level of physicality suits you. Stay at his wife’s bed & breakfast in the restored house, play billiards in the parlor & fortify yourself for the workshop day with a delightful homemade breakfast.
Craftwork Training Center
History Reveals Methods and Materials which are Lasting.
We Teach using Knowledge, Time, and Practice to perfect your art.
Hosted by LimeWorks, a masonry material manufacturer, Craftwork Training Center holds training workshops throughout the year to teach people to properly use their products & to understand proper architectural restoration of masonry- plaster repair, repointing brick & stone, surface repair.
They also have workshops that teach the skills needed to restore & repair wood windows.
Their objective is to educate people so that they can enter the trades as professional & earn a good living, however, their classes are appropriate for a homeowner. Give them a ring to find out if any particular classes would be right for your skill level.
I have saved some great videos to my channel, many of them made by the experts mentioned about. This is a great way to get oriented to the subject of wood window repair. Watch several of them! Paired with a book, you’ll earn your degree in wood window repair.
I also have many videos on many preservation subjects, each one teaching you more about your bungalow, it’s history, its construction, its possibilities.
BACK TO YOUR BUNGALOW WOOD WINDOWS
Yes, I think that you ought to restore them. If they are past the point of no return, you can build new ones using old growth lumber which is harder, denser & resists rot to a greater degree than quick growth, farmed, newly harvested wood. You can generally get this wood from a local salvage yard & have it milled into window pieces that you or your handy carpenter can join yourselves. Carefully save the glass from the old windows to install into the new frames. Both you & the kitties will enjoy that wavy glass view into the garden.
TIP: TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OLD GROWTH WOOD, WATCH SOME GREAT VIDEOS HERE.
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