Help refinishing windows

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Forum topic by pos1 posted 03-21-2015 06:20 PM 817 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1192 days

03-21-2015 06:20 PM

I have 4 large casement windows with wood interior (vinyl exterior) from the late 70s that I’d like to refinish. The sashes have either recently been replaced or will be replaced (thanks to a warranty claim), so I believe the windows will perform very well with new glass. I intend too put the new sashes in myself.

But, they are stained the typical late 70s dark color…and the rest of the house is a warm oak (kitchen cabinets, hardwood flooring, baseboard trim, etc.). So, instead of replacing these 4 windows at ~$5k I’d much rather refinish them. As it stands now my wife insists on replacing them since it is an open concept design and all 4 windows can be seen standing in the middle of the room.

My intent is to strip them down to bare wood and refinish a lighter oak color.

But, I know very little about the anatomy of a window even after some reading. I’m thinking the “trim” all the way around on the inside comes out, but am not sure. If so, once I remove the sashes and crank, I think I will be left with the main window frame (jamb??) that is flat and should be relatively easy to strip with a strain stripper and putty knife (and then maybe some sanding).

I’m thinking I can then also strip the trim while off the window or possibly even order new unfinished.

Am I even close to on track? And, if so, any advice you can provide, i.e. what type of stain and what type of final finish to protect against sun and moisture?

3 replies so far

View jerryminer's profile


928 posts in 1470 days

#1 posted 03-21-2015 07:35 PM

Here’s your challenge: While you can strip paint, stain is another issue. It tends to soak deeper into the wood and does not always respond well to stripping. It will typically lighten some, but it is unlikely you will be able to get back to “unfinished” condition. Going darker is a lot easier than going lighter.

You might consider “lining” the jambs with new wood, and replacing the trim.

If you do decide to try tackling a stripping process, pull off a piece of trim and test your process on that before you commit to every piece of every window. Good luck.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1251 days

#2 posted 03-22-2015 12:49 AM

That’s good advice for a starter although I don’t know if you’ll be able to overlay a façade on the sashes no matter how thin it is.

-- I meant to do that!

View pos1's profile


3 posts in 1192 days

#3 posted 03-22-2015 02:15 AM

...I don t know if you ll be able to overlay a façade on the sashes no matter how thin it is.

- Ghidrah

The sashes are vinyl and brand new. Had them replaced under warranty (not yet installed), which is the main reason I’m looking into this. With all new sashes I hate the thought of replacing the windows just because the stain is too dark. That’s an expensive endeavor just to get lighter stain.

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