How to refurbish a wooden sash window

Wooden sash windows have been a staple in home design for centuries. They add a touch of elegance and a timeless aesthetic to any property. But like anything made of wood, they require proper care and maintenance to ensure longevity. Over time, you might notice issues like peeling paint, rotting wood, or loose panes. When this happens, it’s essential to refurbish your window sash to keep it looking as good as new.

Wooden Sash Window

The Initial Assessment

Before you dive into refurbishing your window sash, it’s vital to carry out an initial assessment. Knowing what needs to be fixed can help you plan the job efficiently.

  • Peeling Paint or Varnish: If the protective layer is coming off, it can expose the wood to elements, leading to quicker deterioration.
  • Wooden Damage: Look for signs of rot, cracking, or splintering.
  • Hardware Issues: Check if the locks, handles, and pulleys are in good condition.
  • Glass Panes: Look for any cracks, chips, or loose settings.

Note: If you encounter any issues that seem too complicated, it might be prudent to seek professional help. A specialist can better assess the condition and undertake the required work.

Gather Your Tools and Materials

To refurbish your wooden window sash successfully, you’ll need some essential tools and materials. Here’s a list to get you started:

Step-by-Step Guide to Refurbishing

Now that you’re ready, let’s move on to the actual process of refurbishing your window sash.

Step 1: Removal and Preparation

First, remove the window sash from its frame. Place it on a flat surface and scrape off any loose paint or varnish using a paint scraper.

Step 2: Sanding

Sand the surface of the window sash with varying grits, starting with a coarse one and gradually moving to a finer one. This will help you get rid of any imperfections.

Step 3: Repairing

Fill in any holes, cracks, or areas with rot using wood filler or epoxy. Make sure to let it dry properly before sanding it down to blend with the surrounding areas.

Step 4: Priming

Apply a coat of primer to prepare the wood for painting. This will also act as an additional protective layer.

Step 5: Painting

Finally, paint or varnish your window sash. Make sure to apply multiple thin coats rather than a single thick one for a more polished look. Once it’s dry, replace any hardware and glass panes that were removed earlier.

Finishing Touches

Once the paint or varnish is completely dry, it’s time to put your window sash back into its frame. You can also take this opportunity to lubricate any moving parts to ensure smooth operation. At this point, your wooden window sash should look and function like new!

The Importance of Professional Help

Although refurbishing a wooden window sash can be a rewarding DIY project, it’s essential to understand the limitations of your skills and experience. Some tasks, like treating advanced wood rot or fixing complex mechanical parts, are best left to professionals. Their expertise can save you time and money in the long run, while also ensuring that the job is done correctly and safely.


Refurbishing a wooden window sash may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, materials, and steps, it’s entirely doable. However, always remember that if you encounter any problems that seem too complicated, seeking professional help is the best course of action. After all, a well-maintained window sash not only improves the aesthetics of your home but also enhances its overall value.