Don't Replace Your Windows Until You Try This!

Adele Kurtz
by Adele Kurtz
5 Materials
4 Hours
Our 25-year old home is feeling twice it's age, I imagine, living in the mountains with harsh weather that can vary 3 seasons in a day.
When we compare our home to too many home improvement "afters" we can feel our place is outdated and yucky.
Usually we don't need a complete overhaul!
A good cleaning and some detailing can save us a lot of worrying and expense.
This example is a worthwhile reminder.
If you've seen my posts on how we replaced our dining area windows, you know I spent more money than I should have with a National Window Company -- although I am very pleased with the improved views and overall appearance. Once I started, however, the other windows in the room/house seemed dingy and old.
Since I am saving my money to add a balcony upstairs, in my bedroom, I do not want to spend much, if anything, making the windows in the rest of the area match.
So here's what some elbow grease and a blend of old and new tricks and techniques can do for you!
And please follow me and check out my other posts for more details!
Believe it or not, I have paid window professionals to come in and "do my windows." But they don't do them as good as DIY folks like you and I would do. The glass gets cleaned, but the sills and sashes only get a quick once over. That's a LOT of grime that can accumulate, making your windows look old before their time.
I use scouring pads and Mr Clean Erasers to get most of the grime. What a difference already!
The next group of cleaning products is for areas that need more attention. A sanding block and blades, a degreaser, a magnetic window cleaner, Tri-sodium phosphate....
After a good cleaning I detail using the blade to get grime out of the cracks too.
Before above; After sanding & bleaching below
I had some serious issues with water damage that required sanding and bleaching. Most of it came out ok, I don't demand perfection.
I removed screens and cleaned outside too. This is about midway through the job & already looking better. Looks almost new by the time I finished.
Screens were vacuumed, edges wiped clean with a scouring rag, then all hosed off with water and allowed to dry as I cleaned inside.
This is a HANDY DANDY GADGET for washing windows inside and out at the same time. It is held together with extra-strong magnets and can handle double pane windows many stories high. Takes practice to get the hang of how to use it. But I'm impressed!
You can inset rags between the blades to wipe off streaks too.
Here are the colors I am working with in this room.
  • Sponged red is the dark background wall color.
  • Cabinets and window trim are a soft white oak.
  • Golden Pear Metallic is my accent color, used sparingly, such as for this middle pillar, and in a glaze shown below.
  • Copper (not shown) is also used in other areas of the room for accents
  • White wash over pine is for new fresh areas.
  • Soft parchment white for walls and ceilings.
After cleaning the ledges and trim, I brush a very diluted mix of white wash pickling stain (less than 1/4 cup 50:50 water:stain) over all of the clean wood.
This lightens and brightens in all the areas where old poly has worn and old finishes are accepting.
I can smear in with a rag and/or brush over until I get the desired amount of lightening, while still allowing old details and grain to show through. This is a quick step that only takes a few minutes per window! See posts about windows.
I've also done the opposite, working with a grey-wash made from matte gray and water, that darkens and neutralizes orange tones. Same concept, both satisfying. See other post about Shades of Gray.
GLAZING with Pearl-added TRICK
For a subtle richer finish, I add pearl into glaze and brush over the softly white-washed/pickled wood above, about an hour after it has dried.
If you want your finish to be a little lighter than I was going for -- you can also add a bit of white-wash to the glaze, too. I recommend you go conservative, a little at a time, allowing an hour to dry in between. These steps don't take long and they use very little material (less than 1/4 cup for 2 double windows) so you can keep going back as many times as you like with the glaze.
You can see what just a tiny amount of Golden Pearl has offered the glaze. This paint was by Martha Stewart and has been discontinued by Home Depot. I am sure we can find other comparables. Just that tiny pint has lasted me several years!
Here's how the Two Steps of white wash pickling and glazing with pearl have changed the wood tones of my old oak trim pieces to blend into a sponged wall in this room.
And here's how my windows looks all put together.
I'll add a poly coat to protect it after it cures & dries a couple days.
One over the stove.... and

... another over the sink.
Clean Fresh & New!
Suggested materials:
  • Pickling stain, glaze, pearl paint   (Home Depot)
  • The GLIDER D-3 MagneticWindow cleaner   (Amazon $83)
  • Cleaning supplies as described
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Frequently asked questions
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  • Vrohde Vrohde on Oct 20, 2017
    This is a really good job and came out super. I, however, have a different problem. I had a few new windows put in my living room they are white plastic or something like it. The other windows, however, are wood and stained a red oak color. Can I stain the white with red oak stain or do I have to take the other wood windows back to white or just paint them white. I have more windows red oak than white. Any suggestions since you did such a beautiful job on yours.

  • Linda Hunt Linda Hunt on Oct 23, 2017
    Hello Adele,

    I can not find the link that is usually at the bottom so that I can look at all the beautiful projects you and and your hubby have created in and out. I did see pictures of your garden art galleries, rock and mineral collection all around the living room, beautiful paint schemes with no curtains. I sent you a wee note that I had fallen in love (hehehe). We are finally ready with my colours but now I cannot get to your site. There is no address to get back into your posts. Could we please have this????? Thank you. Linda

  • Deane Deane on Oct 31, 2017
    What do you use to clean aluminum storm window frames??

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