30 March 2017
The thing about windows is that they are in fact designed to be looked through.
That’s all well and good (it really is, I like being able to see outside), but I’m not certain that the hours and hours of laborious love (and glue) I have poured into our windows will really be appreciated by anyone except me, since most people look OUT a window, not AT a window.
Windows are a big deal, ok.
When the house arrived, it arrived with at least a dozen broken glass panes. Ok, you say, that’s fine, and perhaps to be expected after hauling an ancient house a few hundred kilometres in two pieces.
Sure, but it also arrived with rotten mullions (those are the upright pieces of wood that support the window – just one of the 500 things I’ve learned since we adopted this house). As in, the mullions were so rotten that they were completely loose. You could wiggle them around and shake them all about.
I don’t really want to relive the repairing of these windows (which is still in fact unfinished), however I know I may well forget the elbow grease involved in a few years or so. Therefore, in the interest of safeguarding my future sanity (by warning my future self from undertaking such windows again), here is the process.
How to Become Window Queen and Restore Rotten, Cracked 100 Year Old Windows.
1. Inspect the windows. Feel strange sense of purpose and meaning to life, eg. I am Window Queen, all windows who come to me will be saved.
2. Take tungsten-steel scraper in hand. Become united with said scraper for approximately 1 hour per sash. Did I mention there are 72 sashes in our house?
3. Replace sandpaper strip on tiny sander (tiny sander is preferable because giant sander, while powerful, becomes very heavy when held above one’s head for long periods of time). Sand sills, mullions, sashes.
4. Decide to remove sashes (for the uninitiated, that’s the part of the window that opens). Now, this step is controversial. Papa did not agree with removing the sashes from the frames. But, I cry, the hinges are 100 years old! If you can even scrape away the 11 layers of paint on the hinges, you find they are completely rusted.
Nevertheless, seeing as I am Window Queen, the windows must be saved.
Therefore, scrape 11 layers of paint from hinge screws. Jam arm and push impact driver into screw head. 40% of the hinge screws come out cleanly. Celebrate each one like a lost lamb returning to the fold. Another 40% break off, leaving half the rusted screw in the frame (this delightful occurrence results in a headache later on). The other 20% strip and become stuck. Use brute force to pry whole hinge from frame.
Important note: This fourth step allows one to spend five times as long creating needlessly perfect sashes.
5. Resume sanding, this time by hand to get in the tricky spots.
6. Try many tactics including blowing, tweezing, and vacuuming, to remove debris from unwanted cracks (to be fair, when are cracks ever wanted?). Decide it doesn’t matter that much and leave some of it in there.
7. Mix up the most toxic-smelling epoxy glue every created using a water bottle from your passenger seat and an old icecream container.
8. Pour glue into cracks. Realise that it is running right out the bottom. Fill bottom crack with silicone to contain liquid glue. Pour again. Clamp mullions in place. Repeat 3 times.
9. Remove the 8 different types of curtain hooks that past generations cruelly inserted into the window.
10. Mix up epoxy filler with the clinginess of a toddler and the texture of cornflour and water. Wish that you didn’t have to try to clean it up every time. Fill gaping holes in sills where rot and decay once reigned supreme.
11. Sand again. Run your hand over the bizarrely flat surface of your new windowsill. Spend 10 minutes rapping your knuckles on the glue and listening to the glorious sound of hardness.
12. Wipe down window. Paint undercoat. Delight in the exquisite feeling of painting that beautiful first top coat, where all the sins of the window are washed away and are made as white as snow.
13. Rush painting of second top coat.
14. Oops, almost forgot. Repeat all steps on the sashes you removed.
15. Reinsert sashes into frame, after chiselling new spots for the hinges where you broke off screws inside.
16. Force everyone who comes to your adopted house to stand and admire. Make sure to start your mornings with a brief admiration session in front of your gleaming window.
That, my friends, is how you become Window Queen.
If there is anyone still reading this besides me as I type it, I’m quite astonished. Well done you.
Signing out, Her Highness, Queen of Windows.