Homeowners often show some apprehension in taking on window sash assembly. In a perfect world, we would love nothing more than to provide complete replacement windows. The fact of the matter is, when many window companies went out of business, they took their parts and their manufacturers with them. Several components that went into the original window construction simply are not available for purchase or production.
Without any experience, sash assembly can be a complicated process the first time you try it. Unfortunately, many homeowners succumb to their fears and end up spending tons more money on replacement windows they don’t need, or substituted products that don’t match their original windows. We always recommend a professional for better results, but if you have a little mechanical savvy and a DIY spirit, here’s a few tips to turn a Fenster wood sash frame into a finished window.
1. Disconnect the old sash from the operating hardware, hinges, or balance track and lay flat on a sturdy work surface. See our post on window sash removal if you need tips on removing the sash.
2. Boot glazed sash frames screw together at the corner joints, either from the edge or the inside face. Locate those corner screws and remove. If you do not have a boot glaze style sash, see our post on wet glazed sash assembly.
3. Separate each of the four sides from the rubber gasket. Leave the rubber gasket on the glass. This would be a good time to remove mildew or paint. You can soak the gasket in very hot water and detergent to soften it if you choose.
4. Most cladding simply slides over the face of the wood frame and can be removed. Actual design is specific to each brand or style of window, but in general, most cladding has a fold at one end. One notable exception could be a small staple at one or both ends. Using a putty knife, gently pry up one end fold so that it is flush with the face surface. Slide the cladding off the other end. On some sash there may be a small dab of adhesive under one end of the cladding. Gently work the cladding free from this adhesive with a thin instrument before sliding the cladding off.
5. Repeat step 4 for all stile and rail pieces.
6. If you haven’t done so, on bare, stain grade profiles, we recommend priming the exterior surface prior to applying the cladding.
7. Take each corresponding cladding piece and slide it back on the new Fenster matching stile or rail.
8. Using a small hammer or similar tool, gently tap the fold back down.
9. With all four sides complete, work each side back on the glazing gasket and apply caulk to each corner joint.
10. Pull the frame corners tight if necessary and screw together with the provided screws. Clean off any excess sealant.
11. Using the old stiles and rails as a template, lay the corresponding part next to the new frame and transfer the screw hole locations for the hardware. Pre-drill for the screws and re-install the hardware.
12. Re-install the sash in the frame opening.
We highly recommend sealing all edges of the sash frame prior to final installation, especially stationary casement sashes that have unexposed edges. Exception: do not paint the guide track groove on double hung sashes as this will cause the sash to stick to the vinyl balance track.