How To Restore Wood Windows

Updated: May 21, 2024

Restoring faded windows can look like an intimidating job, but it doesn't have to be! Learn how to give your windows new life with a few simple steps.

Next Project
Time

A full day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

Less than $20

Introduction

Wood windows with a a href="https://diyuniversity.com/catalog/info/id:255,cms_featured_course:1">natural finish on the inside look great when they're new, but moisture, temperature swings and harsh sunlight eventually make the varnish fade and flake away, especially along the bottom of the window sash and on the sill.

It looks like an intimidating job, but usually the only part of the window that needs work is along the bottom — the rest of the sash and trim can just be lightly sanded and recoated.

Follow the steps ahead to get the job done.

Tools Required

  • Paint scraper
  • Pry bar

Materials Required

  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Varnish

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Match the Old Stain

Carefully remove the wood cover of the casement operator (or other piece of trim) and use it to match the stain. The easiest way to do this is to take a piece of the trim to a paint store to match it.

Match The Old StainTMB Studio

Step 2

Scrape Off Loose Finish

Use a sharp scraper to remove the old finish. Pull the scraper smoothly and carefully to avoid gouging the wood.

Scrape Off Loose FinishTMB Studio

Step 3

Sand Worn Finish

Sand side pieces heavily in worn-out areas and lightly elsewhere. Stop at edges or corners next to undamaged wood. Use 120- or 150-grit sandpaper.

In partially damaged areas, feather the sanding into the undamaged areas, then lightly sand the rest of the piece to prepare it for a new finish.

You don’t need to sand and recoat the entire window if only a few pieces need it — just stop at an edge or corner.

Sand Worn FinishTMB Studio

Step 4

Apply Stain and Finish

Rub stain into the sanded sections of the window. Wipe off quickly, then apply more as needed to darken the color. If the gloss doesn’t match the older varnish, buff it lightly with extra-fine steel wool or pad to dull it.

Apply Stain And FinishTMB Studio