Reusing Vintage Windows

When I planned the project, I had the crusty old window sashes. But I imagined that they could be scraped clean and totally reworked to a high degree of finish. If the project were going to be successful, this needed to happen. Not only that, I wanted the windows to be the most interesting thing about the cabinet.

The good news is I was able to refinish them to my satisfaction.


The windows came with years of dust, some dirt, and layers of paint flaking off. One of the first steps was carefully removing the glass panes and storing them for later. To do this, I had to carefully remove the old window putty. The photo below compares an original window with one that has had the glass removed.


(L) Original sash with glass, (R) After glass is removed and sash is cleaned.

After the glass was removed, I could scrape and clean the frames. I did this until all that was left was paint. Then I used citrus-based paint stripper to remove the paint. I tried to scrape away every bit of paint, without marring the wood. The photo below shows a comparison between a clean sash, and one that has had the paint stripped.


(L) Clean sash, (R) After stripping the paint.

I also had to scrape and wash all the panes of glass, which had accumulated dirt and paint.



Mullions detail

Once I had the sashes down to the bare wood, I sanded and refinished them. I think I used a polyurethane as a sanding sealer, then sanded again, then sealed again. The photo below shows the windows in the process of being sealed.


Applying sealer to the sashes

After sealing the windows, I painted them with my hot pink oops paint that I was also using on Dirty Drawers. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the final painted windows by themselves.


After all the paint was dry, I took the clean panes and replaced them in the sashes. I used new glass points, but no putty this time.