"Trimming" Our Windows

Over time when we've installed new windows on the south and west sides of the house the old windows and trim have been so damaged they weren't salvageable. In some cases the windows had already been replaced with single pane aluminum windows or the original louvered windows were still in place and those are highly inefficient.

So as we've moved around our house we've installed vinyl windows. Yes, that's right, vinyl. I know many of you are gasping in horror at how we could possibly do that to our original windows in our nearly 90 year old house. I know, if it was my dream I'd install great, efficient, architecturally similar windows throughout our whole house. I know it's very important, especially in a older home like ours to maintain its architectural integrity, which is why we made sure to spend the extra money on the front window.

But with all the work that needs to be done to this house, Chris and I couldn't stomach or afford to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to replace all the windows to match the home architecturally. So we compromised and decided that the windows on the parts of the house you don't see very often would get replaced with energy efficient, vinyl windows, and the windows in the front would get replaced using (MUCH more expensive) fiberglass windows that mirror the look and style of wood.

Now, however, the vinyl windows on the side and back of the house are looking pretty bare with no more trim intact. So we set out on figuring out how to trim them out. We debated many methods but eventually landed on installing shutters, an architectural feature that's common on our street.

We would need 6 sets of shutters for our vinyl windows: the kitchen, the main bathroom, 2 for the art room, the animal room and the back bathroom

I looked online for pre-built shutters and fell off my chair to find out that it would cost a preeeeeeeeetty penny for all of them, so Chris and I decided to build our own.

We purchased redwood 2x4's (more pricey than regular 2x4's but more able to hold up to the elements) at the Lumber Baron in Albany, CA (my hometown, woot woot!) The Lumber Baron has been family owned and operated since 1977. They're incredibly nice, helpful and have great prices. They're a great resource for anyone in the Bay Area looking for redwood.

Once we purchased all the redwood we needed I cut everything down

And once everything was cut down...

...I primed it all with 2 coats of shellac based primer to really seal those babies good

Once I was done priming, Chris painted them our blue trim color and began assembling them

After Chris had assembled all of them I made sure to paint the cross braces and give all the shutters one more coat of blue

Then it was time to install them. That was a LONG process.

First, I pre-drilled where all the screws would go

Next, Chris stood on the ladder and I stood on an old recycling container holding the shutter up. We lined it up with the window and Chris took a hammer drill and drilled through my pilot holes in the shutter and through into the stucco

Then, while Chris stayed on the ladder and hammered in plastic anchors in our stucco holes...

...I screwed 4" screws into my already pre-drilled holes so they were sticking out the back end just slightly and hung a washer on the back

Once that was finished, I grabbed the shutter, climbed back on my recycling container and held up the shutter. Chris lined up the screws on the back end with our holes in the stucco. When he got the holes lined up he screwed the shutter in. Then we could admire how beautiful they looked :)

(and we also re-installed our gutters...)

We repeated that loooooooooong process for all 12 shutters. In the end we got pretty quick at it and were so in the zone about it we barely even spoke to each other - just a grunt from Chris for me to lower the shutter after he had drilled the pilot holes in the stucco and a grunt from me when I had finished drilling the screws in and popping a washer on.

With all the shutters on, now we've got plans to cover the inside screws with faux, decorative hinges, but I've got it on my to do list to putty the other screw holes, sand them down, prime, and paint

For all 12 shutters. Boo.


No More Ugly Aluminum

As I teased you about two weeks ago, this window got replaced

What, this ugly aluminum window doesn't scream KEEP ME to you?

It just looks so sad and pathetic with all the great, chunky, wood windows.

So we set out on getting it replaced.

We knew it would come with a hefty price tag, so we tried to keep it in the range of not making us vomit. We debated a few materials.

Vinyl: cheap, but not a contender for us for the front of the house because of the great architecture of the home and trim of all the other windows.

Wood: a dream, but REALLY expensive.

Fiberglass: the best of both worlds. It was much more cost effective (especially with the company we chose, Armstrong), and it had a beefy exterior trim package that made it look like a nice, big wooden window without the bank breaking price. Plus, we could give a simulated divided light look that mirrored the turret windows, and the window could be operable so we'd get some circulation.

The window we settled on is a brand new product for Armstrong called Infinity by Marvin. It's a fiberglass window that resembles wood and is way more cost effective (and they didn't pay us for any of this advertising, we just wanted to share our product choice with you). We went with a "Pebble Gray" finish on the outside that is paintable (it only comes in a few colors so we went with a darker gray so our blue trim color would cover well over it). The inside finish is called Everwood and it simulates real wood and is stainable. When they deliver and install your window they give you a few samples of Everwood trim pieces so that you can test how it takes the stain to select your color. We were thrilled with out window selection.

Once the window was selected and our contract was signed (we were actually the first customers of theirs to sign up for this new window and so they upgraded our hardware to oil-rubbed bronze for free), it was just a matter of waiting 6-8 weeks for the window (7 to be exact).

When the installation day came, it was very exciting: professionals doing something and me just getting to sit by and watch! (and the workers were incredibly nice, professional and quick considering it was only the 3rd Infinity window they'd installed)

We LOVE the new window. We've gotten some compliments from neighbors on it and I just think it fits the space and anchors the center of the house so well. Not to mention it keeps the front room a lot cooler because there's no more crappy, single pane aluminum window anymore. And now that the weather has really warmed up (minus the RAIN yesterday, what the hell?) it is so great that the window is operable because we can open it up in the evening time and get a great breeze going.

Now, we just gotta finish painting it


How to Re-Glaze Windows

We had to re-glaze A LOT of windows and Chris got pretty damn good at it by the end. Here's his helpful tutorial if you've got the same task to do. Without further ado...

hehehehehehe. Okay NOW without further ado....

tools/materials you may need:
stiff putty knife or glazing tool
dap 33 glazing putty (for wood windows)
dap 1012 (for metal framed windows)
replacement glass (in case any is broken or break when chipping out the crusty stuff)
finishing sander (aka 1/4 sheet sander)
80 grit sandpaper
painter's tool
scraping tool with straight razor
oil-based primer
paint brush
drywall knives

1. if you're redoing the whole window then you'll want to give the windows a good scraping and sanding before you apply any putty. (if you're just replacing a broken pane skip to step 2). i prefer to use a painter's tool to get the big flakes and then a finishing sander for this step. finishing sanders get into the corners of the windows better than orbital sanders and are more powerful than those little mouse style detail sanders or the multi-tool (fein, dremel, bosch) oscillating tools with sandpaper attached. at the same time, finishing sanders don't bounce all over the place so the glass won't end up looking awful. sand all the rails, stiles, and especially muntins that need to be sanded in order to be paint-ready. you're doing this now so that none of the dust or flakes ends up in the glazing later.

2. after the wood is all sanded and paint-ready you can start chipping out the old glazing. most of it will be fairly easy to take out. if it's not cracking or difficult to get out, then you can probably leave it. you want to inspect it to ensure it still has a good seal with the glass and muntin, if it does then you may leave it. however, an aesthetic consideration is having to blend the new glazing into the old on a single side of the window pane. if you can blend it then no worries, otherwise you might want to just remove the glazing from the whole side for a better look.

there are probably many ways of getting the old glazing out, but the way that works best for me is using an old chisel. i work from the muntin side of the window (not on the glass side) making sure i don't gouge the wood muntin while chipping away at the old glazing. once you get it started, the older stuff is really easy to get off. patience is key here. some will suggest heating the putty with a heat gun, but that's just a waste of time and energy. elbow grease and patience work best. i like to use my bench grinder to keep the chisel fairly sharp at all times, as it makes the work go faster. a word of caution, though, that also makes it easier to gouge the muntin, and you want to avoid that.

3. once all the glazing is out you can replace the glass if necessary. when replacing the glass there's no real secret. just carefully take out the old one along with the old glazier's points.

put in the new pane of glass and firmly push it against the trim which should be intact on the inside of the window. use a stiff putty knife or painter's tool to attach new glazier's points every 6". make sure they're tight against the glass and completely seated into the muntin.

4. brush or blow the window clean of all debris and dust. pre-prime all the wood that the glazing will be touching. no need to be overly cautious here. the excess on the glass can be scraped and the excess on the wood should just be thinned with your brush so it blends in with the final top coat.

5. after the primer has dried, scrape the glass panes with a straight razor scraper so that no primer will show after the glazing compound has been applied.

6. take a chunk of glazing compound in your hands and knead and roll it around to warm it up. roll it into a snake and pinch it into the corner between the glass and muntin. don't be shy, it's better to have too much than too little.

i like to do one pane at a time. so repeat this step until all four sides of the pane are covered. take your glazing tool or putty knife and work the putty into the corner, running the tool perpendicular to the muntin. the goal here is to get the compound into all the nooks including the keyway which is hopefully still intact on the muntin.

7. the draw. the next couple steps are critical and the ones where the experts really earn their money. starting in one corner, draw your glazing tool at approximately a 45 degree angle relative to the muntin and firmly apply pressure while working towards the opposite corner.

with a steady hand and some (lots) of practice you'll get good at making it look good and getting it done quickly. repeat this step on the other 3 sides of the glass. you want to make sure that your glazing doesn't extend too far past the trim on the interior side of the glass, so make sure you start your draw at the same-ish angle that was originally used on your windows.

(on the top of this pane the glazing extends too far, on the left it looks perfect)

with practice you'll see that a flatter angle relative to the muntin will make the glazing too skinny and a flatter angle relative to the glass will make the glazing too fat.

8. finishing. after you have drawn the line for all sides of the glass you can remove the excess compound and cleanup the glazing.

i like to use as big a drywall knife as the window will allow to make sure that the edge is nice and straight. you can't make corrections more than 1/16" or so, so this isn't a tool to fix a really wavy line, just to get a way of getting a nice line to look great.

(this is an example of a good angle and a smooth draw)

after you're happy with the straightness of the lines you can work on the corners.

the corners are the tough spot. i've found that doing a short, light draw from the corner towards the middle of each side smooths the corner nicely.

the important thing here is that it needs to shed water efficiently. some people prefer a rounded corner to a sharp ("mitered") corner. experiment with each and see which is easier and more preferable for you.

the last finishing step is to follow up your draw with a finger to smooth and seal it all to the glass and muntin. lightly use your index finger to smooth the glazing compound. there shouldn't be any bumps or fingerprints and it should be tightly sealed against the glass.

this is your last chance to fine tune. use your drywall or putty knife to make sure the line is straight and true

9. after a week or more (depending upon the weather) the compound should be ready for primer and paint. dap recommends an oil-based primer, though i've had no problem using latex in the past. prime and paint. whatever you use, make sure you extend the paint onto the glass just a bit to seal up that transition.

So there you have it, a tip from the pro. I mean Christopher. Same thing.

Our Windows Look Like Crap

The windows around our house (particularly the front and north side) were looking like shit

Divided light windows are beautiful, but when the 5 of them on your turret have fucked up glazing everywhere, you kinda hate them.

Tomorrow I'll share with you the "How To" of re-glazing, but today we'll just talk about how much it sucked :)

Again, here's another example of our not-looking-so-hot windows

And so we made it our goal to bring them into the 21st century and looking beautiful. A tough task.

It started with scraping

Scraping to remove old paint, old glazing and rotted wood

There was also some glass removing (bad, broken panes)

And some salvage window buying, removing, cutting down to size and installing

(we purchased a vintage window with 8 divided light panes for $5 (!yay!) to get the same wavy glass as our original windows)

But mostly it was just a TON of this

And by ton I mean I'm not exaggerating when I say that Chris re-glazed 40+ windows. Seriously.

It got boring and there got to be so many that he started re-glazing in separate stints. 2 windows here. 8 windows there. If he had sat down and done all 40+ in one weekend I think he may have gone insane.

So over the course of a couple weeks I found him doing a lot of this

And slowly but surely the windows were looking better and better

And not only did he re-glaze, he also repaired. Check out this before

And after

Not tooooooo shabby.

I'm telling you, that Christopher is pretty pretty pretty good to have around :)