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Thread: Painters damaged original wood windows - ideas for a fix

  1. #1

    Painters damaged original wood windows - ideas for a fix

    Hi All, I've spent a lot of time reading and learning in these forums, so thank you to everyone who makes this a valuable resource.


    We are having some work done on our home in the SF Bay Area of California and our painters got overzealous with scraping the old paint off of the windows and ruined the inner molding detail of the sash (surprising given the quality of their other work). Our house has beautiful original beveled glass windows so this is pretty devastating to us. The crew is licensed, insured, has taken responsibility and will be covering the cost to fix, etc. but I am putting in the energy to find the right solution rather than relying on their carpenter.

    I am in the process of having local shops quote remaking the sashes, etc. but I am also investigating whether there is an acceptable way to "fix" the damage without going through major replacements. I've come up with an idea to replace the molding detail and would like some input on just how bad of an idea it is.

    My thought is to use a router with a flush trim bit to remove the damaged section of sash and replace it with a custom profile trim piece from a local mill. There are a few places close by that I've used that will make custom knives and run stock to whatever size and profile you request.

    With attention to detail it feels like this could work aesthetically, but am I asking for trouble with regards to window integrity? Would appreciate any insight or suggestions for alternate solutions.

    Thanks so much
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tim Vanderet; 05-05-2022 at 2:09 PM.

  2. #2
    I think your idea might work on the frame but the muntiins would have to cut on both sides and are quite small to support a router.

    Since insurance may cover pro shop repair I would look into that first - if you screw it up it becomes your problem.

  3. #3
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    I would opt for new sash entirely. Routing out a rebate might work though if you can do it on a bench with good support. The profile looks like a common ogee which you should be able to buy locally or cut yourself if you have a router table.

    The Bay area must have lots of custom millwork shops that can reproduce a period window. Even the big companies like Marvin offer a custom service. Going with new would allow you to get double glazing and give you crisp mouldings without six coats of old paint.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    You can have new sash made around the existing glass. https://www.ravenrestorationsf.com/

    Routing out the sticking and replacing it does work, of you have custom cutters made and cope the sticking on a tenoner. Otherwise, it will look like bad patches.

    Replacing the windows with insulated glass windows with plastic parts would look like something real bad happened while the owners were away. The beveled glass makes the house fell like it has some character. The light coming in through the beveled glass transforms a room. From the outside, the refracted light from the bevels, and each light being in a different plane, breaks up the facade of the building and makes it feel like it has depth.

    Flat glass insulated glass windows with simulated divided lites look like blank dead eyes, not to sound harsh about it, or like I have an opinion.

    The painters should know who can fix it right. Anyone that works on old houses in SF knows the custom window places. I just found one from three time zones away.

  5. #5
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    I can't figure out how they would even do that. I've never seen such damage done by painters.

    The wood may be a really soft wood, since it was so easily damaged. If so, the profiles can be carefully taken out with really sharp hand tools, and replaced.

    I've done smaller areas similarly, but not that many lineal feet.

  6. #6
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    The original work appears to be plaster molding, not wood. Maybe talk to a restoration specialist in your area that does plaster details.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  7. #7
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    I would work on that by hand before trying other measures. Careful carving and sanding could re-create a better looking profile. I would use a razor knife and straight edge to start, followed by a tiny plane and chisels, then profile sanding blocks. I have had to make profile sanding blocks to reshape molded edges. It is tedious but could be done in place without the damage risks involved in removing the sash or beveled glass.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    The original work appears to be plaster molding, not wood. Maybe talk to a restoration specialist in your area that does plaster details.

    You could be right. My father did some repair to that part of our front window that rotted. He rebuilt the detail with Dowmans Fixall plaster. The wood is most likely sugar pine or redwood which are both soft. Is the cove molding on the ceiling wood or plaster? Be careful with how much restoration gets done. I have no idea on the limits but do too much and they will have to be replaced with double pane windows. Are you allowed to pull them out and put them back in? Kind of like seismic upgrades if you open it up too much.
    Bill D

  9. #9
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    If I was the painter who had done that damage I would be very relieved to hear the Dowman's Fixall Plaster story.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  10. #10
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    I can't imagine a painter removing that much detail, ouch! A new molding is not quite the same. If the window sweats it will eventually destroy the molding and possibly the window with that many new facets and cracks. I have just finished my first traditional window sashes using only hand tools and taking a class (Roy Underhill) at the end of the month. So with the right profile it is doable by hand or machine. It is also possible to replace just the bottom rail if that is the only location of damage depending on how the original was made. I don't know if it is historic preservation work or not but either way I would keep the glass and take a close look at how they were made and joinery used. If for no other reason than curiosity.

  11. #11
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    Whatever it is made from, the lower horizontal ones on single pane windows suffer from water condensing on the inside of the windows. I always paint the insides of single pane sash with exterior paint. So far, I've never had to redo any. I would fix them in place.

  12. #12
    Thanks everyone for your input, it's very much appreciated. I have edited my original post to add new photos to clarify a few issues. In my stress and haste last night I showed a different section of window which seems to have a taller profile. I'd estimate the painters removed about 1/8 inch of material. They were using sharp scrapers and as speculated all of the millwork in the house in softwood (I think its doug fir). The original work is indeed wood, there is no plaster molding in the house. The cove crown molding is a wood piece. Its unfortunately

    It seems like there are three buckets of solutions:
    1) Try to reshape the profile in place either with razor knives and custom sanding blocks, or build the profile back up with plaster.
    2) Replace just the profile section with a new wood piece as described.
    3) Rebuild the sashes completely.

    Option 1) feels challenging and I would only trust this work with someone that had done this work before. 2) Feels the most feasible but it feels like a real challenge to get a straight clean edge while removing material with the windows in place. 3) I have real concerns with taking the windows down and do wonder whether this is overkill. I am very conflict averse and so working through this with the painter is hard for me.

    A number of the custom wood window shops have gotten back to me and the responses have been mixed between option 2) and option 3). Most are adamant that the work needs to be done in the shop, but 2 are still working through whether they could tackle this with the windows in place. The painter is bringing in a few finish carpenters that he knows who are all suggesting variations of Option 2) with the windows in place.

    Again, thank you all for your insights. These windows are our favorite feature in a house that we plan to be in forever so this has been very difficult for me to work through.

  13. #13
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    I would trim off the molded edge in place with hand tools, and add it back with wooden molding to match, putting the new piece on with stainless steel 23 ga. pins. It would be a bit tedious, but it's not much different than the kind of stuff I do anyway. I only work within 10 miles of home though. You're over 3,000 away.

    It definitely needs to be someone who can easily sharpen hand tools, and is used to working with them. It's not even that difficult with the right tools, and hands. I would move in my portable 92" long sharpening sink. It's one of the first things we move in when we work on 18th and 19th Century museum houses.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Vanderet View Post
    Thanks everyone for your input, it's very much appreciated. I have edited my original post to add new photos to clarify a few issues. In my stress and haste last night I showed a different section of window which seems to have a taller profile. I'd estimate the painters removed about 1/8 inch of material. They were using sharp scrapers and as speculated all of the millwork in the house in softwood (I think its doug fir). The original work is indeed wood, there is no plaster molding in the house. The cove crown molding is a wood piece. Its unfortunately

    It seems like there are three buckets of solutions:
    1) Try to reshape the profile in place either with razor knives and custom sanding blocks, or build the profile back up with plaster.
    2) Replace just the profile section with a new wood piece as described.
    3) Rebuild the sashes completely.

    Option 1) feels challenging and I would only trust this work with someone that had done this work before. 2) Feels the most feasible but it feels like a real challenge to get a straight clean edge while removing material with the windows in place. 3) I have real concerns with taking the windows down and do wonder whether this is overkill. I am very conflict averse and so working through this with the painter is hard for me.

    A number of the custom wood window shops have gotten back to me and the responses have been mixed between option 2) and option 3). Most are adamant that the work needs to be done in the shop, but 2 are still working through whether they could tackle this with the windows in place. The painter is bringing in a few finish carpenters that he knows who are all suggesting variations of Option 2) with the windows in place.

    Again, thank you all for your insights. These windows are our favorite feature in a house that we plan to be in forever so this has been very difficult for me to work through.
    Forget #1. There's not enough material left in places to reshape and plaster won't hold up to condensation. If the sashes can be removed routing out and replacing the profile sections in the shop will be far more efficient than in place. If the sash material is sound that is probably the way to go, otherwise new sash make more sense.

  15. #15
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    My opinion is the repairs can only be done properly if the sashes are taken out. Trying to do it in place risks breaking the glass and that's a deal breaker for me. Screw up your courage and tell the painters that they are on the hook for the repairs by a qualified shop. A qualified shop for this kind of work is a shop that regularly deals with repair and restoration of historic windows. No offense to all the carpenters out there but this is not in your bailiwick. Eliminate the shops that say they can do it in place. Pick whomever you most trust from the rest.

    And never hire this painter again.

    John

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