The windows are arguably the most beautiful component of your home. However, dynamic and historically-significant windows on older homes are often unappreciated and go unattended. Historic windows contain several different parts, such as rails, stiles, tops, stool, jamb, still, etc., and each individual part must be repaired or maintained. Because replacing the windows could deteriorate the historical significance of your home, proper maintenance techniques are crucial.

Paint Removal Tips

Often, historical windows have accumulated several layers of paint over the years. In order to restore the original clarity and operation of the window, the excess layers of paint must be peeled or flaked away. If you are planning on repainting the window seals, it may also be necessary to completely remove old paint. In any case, there are many effective and safe methods for removing old paint from wood, but it will depend on the amount of paint that needs to be removed.

For the best results, paint removal should start on the interior frames first. Make sure you are careful to remove the paint from the parting bead and the interior jamb, especially in the seams where the stop meets the jamb. To do so, you can run a utility knife along the perimeter of the seam to break the paint bond. After you do this, it will be significantly easier to remove the parting bead, the stop, and the sash.

Sash Removal & Repair Tips

If you are having trouble opening or closing windows, there may be an issue with the sash. To avoid scarring the wood, gently move the sash from side to side and pry it loose with a pair of putty knives. You can remove the upper sash in a similar fashion.

However, the parting bead that keeps the sash in place is more delicate and thinner than the interior stop. After you get rid of the paint along the seam, you should carefully pry out the parting bead, similar to the way you removed the interior stop. While the sash is out for repair, the window openings can be covered with plywood sheathing or polyethylene sheets.

Protecting Historical Panes

If you have to clear the sash of paint without removing the glass, you should avoid using heat, because sudden temperature changes could break the panes. Especially if the glass has historic significance, you will want to protect the glass; it likely has value and adds character to the window. In the event you decide to use a heat treatment, you can protect the glass with an overlay of asbestos or aluminum foil on gypsum board to prevent the window from undergoing any rapid temperature changes.

Old Putty Removal

If your window suffers from deteriorated putty, all of it should be removed manually. It’s important to make sure you do not damage the wood on the rabbet. If you have to remove the glass, make sure to number the panes when you take them out, in order to place the same panes back in the exact openings. While the glass is out, get rid of the rest of the old putty. In addition, sashes can be patched, sanded, and even primed. If putty has become hardened in the rabbets, a soldering iron can be used to soften it first. Remaining putty on the glass can be soaked in linseed oil to soften it to reduce the risk of breaking the panes.

Before you reinstall the glass, lay linseed oil putty or a bead of glazing compound around the rabbet to seal and cushion the glass. If you decide to use the glazing compound, it should only be used on wood that has been treated with linseed oil and paint or an oil based primer. After you have done this, simply press the pane back into place and pushed the glazing points into the wood on the outsides of the window pane.

Simple Tips to Maintain Historical Windows

  1. Caulk the perimeter of the inside window trim.
  2. Caulk the exterior perimeter around the opening.
  3. Place weather stripping on the sash of the window.
  4. Implement a thermal panel or storm window.


In the event a part of your window fails, the entire unit might have to be replaced. However, the best solution is to maintain the historical value of the windows and have them repaired. In any case, maintaining historical windows can be relatively labor intensive. If you decide that the DIY route isn’t for you, call the experts at Edmond Glass. We can help you repair and maintain historical windows in Oklahoma City, Edmond and surrounding areas.