I have an old house with many double-hung wood windows in various states of repair, many with sashes that are painted shut or sash cords that are painted over and stuck to the pulleys. It would be great to make these operational again. Some windows are old cool-looking glass, but most are newer uninteresting glass.

I considered just removing the sashes and replacing it with a block frame double hung replacement window and have already done this successfully with one of them. Unfortunately, a typical double hung vinyl window is a bit over 3" from rough opening to daylight (example from Milgard), which is a loss compared to the 1.5" on the old wood sash.

There are some contractors in the area (Seattle) doing wood window restoration, but the waitlists are months to years long and the pricing ends up being around $1000 a window, which is drastically higher than vinyl replacement windows.

What are my options? Is there anything I'm missing? Is it a feasible DIY project to do the sash restoration myself? Thanks!

old window

  • 1
    If your goal is to get the windows operational, why not just clean up the paint/replace the sash cords/fix whichever other obstacles are preventing them from going up and down? Mar 8, 2019 at 1:19
  • That's how "replacement windows" work... And they are windows you'll be replacing later, that's why they call them replacement windows. One option to repair your windows is skill up some woodworking skills and just make 'em. Mar 9, 2019 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


YES! It is possible and likely will be rewarding as a labor of love.

You will need to become familiar with the parts and assembly of old wood windows and will learn the names and functions of the various elements as you progress in your endeavor (e.g. stool, parting bead, stile, rail, etc.). There is tons of info on the internet of things.

You will need to become proficient with stripping, scraping, sanding, painting, glazing, etc.

You will need to find a good hardware or window shop that has knowledgeable staff and are willing & able to procure the parts and materials you will need (lots available online too).

You will need some specialty tools, like this "wood sash paint cutter":

enter image description here pic from stuccohouse.blogspot.com

and various other common woodworking tools.


I had a house in Seattle that was built in 1906, it too had double hung windows with old glass that had gone "wavy" from age, I thought it was cool and did as was suggested, I restored the old sashes, re-glazed etc. I liked the look but I have to say, compared to new double pane energy efficient windows that I put into a 2nd story addition, they were very very cold in the winter.

Hardwick and Sons hardware store on Roosevelt in the U-district, a throwback hardware store owned by the same family since the 30s. Excellent resource for parts and skills to repair those windows (and about everything else in those old houses), they walked me through everything.

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