I recently purchased a house that built in 1937. I believe the windows are original, and they are all casement windows. I'm not sure of the correct term, but the windows are clad in metal with a slot, as are the frames. From the look of it, they were suppose to seal by interlocking. However, at this point the windows won't fit into the frame at all.

I can't plane/sand the window or frame to account for the swelling that has likely taken place. Is the best bet to remove the metal and replace with another seal? If I remove the window, I may be able to plane/sand the hinge side, but I don't know if the metal will seal properly. What is the best way to deal with this, short of replacing the window?

I've wedged them shut for the moment, but I can open one up to take more pictures if needed. We're having a stink-bug issue, so I don't want to open them more than I have to.


EDIT - Added additional/better photos

I will measure it more precisely later, but it appears to sit square in the frame.

Photo of window opened

Window open

Photo of frame

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Photo of closed window

Closed Window

This is as far as it can close

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  • It's possible that foundation settlement has distorted the window. Somebody needs to look at the construction to see what solutions are available and their cost.
    – fixer1234
    Oct 4, 2017 at 5:28
  • both diagonals of the open window space should be the same length, or it's not square. you can seal up a leaky window, so don't let the fear of over-correcting keep you from trying. sidewalk chalk on the side of the pane can find tight/loose spots against the frame: the more chalk the more sanding...
    – dandavis
    Oct 4, 2017 at 7:42
  • I will check the squareness of the window tonight, but it looks square, as it lines up on all sides with the frame, it just doesn't go in. In terms of sanding, the only side I can sand is the hinge side, due to the metal strip.
    – Erick T
    Oct 4, 2017 at 22:09
  • 2
    Is the problem just 80 years of paint buildup that is now so thick that it keeps things from going where they're supposed to go? Also, are they single-pane glass? Your profile indicates that you're in Seattle. Replacing single pane windows might pay for itself in energy savings.
    – fixer1234
    Oct 7, 2017 at 3:01
  • 1
    @Ken that is correct, they are casement windows with the hinge on the side. I'm going to try the approach of removing paint and see how it goes.
    – Erick T
    Oct 11, 2017 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


As mentioned by fixer1234, the problem is 80 years of paint build up. The interlocking style of weather stripping you have there works with very close tolerances. When the weatherstripping gets painted it takes away already tight tolerances. It looks like in the first photo of the window open there is "bridging" where the paint has either spanned the gap or filled in the gap needed for the other part of the weatherstripping on the jamb to nest into.

The metal needs to be cleaned of all paint. The metal will not rust so scrape away, but you MUST be careful not to distort the metal in any way. I cannot tell if it is in other places, it does not take much to give you trouble.

Back in the day this was the best out there and when it is kept in good shape, the window works flawlessly for opening and closing. Keeping it in good shape requires that no paint get on it, and no trash/debris gets in the spaces left by the metal for its' counterpart to fit into.

Looking closer at the open window picture there is a large buildup of paint on the leading edge of the metal that changes the size of the metal so it affects how the metal on the window engages the metal on the jamb. You may notice a slight improvement if that is cleaned off.

One of the tools I use to clean this type of trouble off of old school weatherstripping is my trusty sanding block, made from the belt of a belt sander pulled over a block of wood, cut so-so that it literally has to be stretched onto the block of wood. That tool will remove the paint and grind things flat. If you use the idea I suggest either 50 or 60 grit sanding belt to do the task. Any finer grit will readily clog. A paint scraper will come in handy too.

If you stripped the paint off to bare wood on the sill, head and the sides where the window swings out of, and prime and repaint, you may find you widows may have not swelled so much after all. I would need close ups of the corners of the windows to better say, but from what I see, there is no major swelling going on, although the wood does move seasonally due to humidity changes during winter/summer.

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  • Thanks, using this approach, I was able to get one to close. I have to say that for 80 year old windows (assuming they are original), they work quite well!
    – Erick T
    Oct 13, 2017 at 23:59

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