How to Remove a Sash Window

Wooden sash windows bring a classic appeal to your home. With regular cleaning and painting or staining, they can stay looking great for decades. But, inevitably, time and weather will take their toll, and you’ll need to look at repairing or replacing your sash windows.

If you’re considering home window replacement, but want to keep your wooden window aesthetic, there are a number of wood window sash replacement kits available that will help maintain your home’s design. They make a cost-effective solution to replacing your windows, without needing to go to more modern choices like vinyl or aluminum windows.

With after-market options for classic windows from manufacturers like Sealrite and Caradco, all you need is a few details about your window to find a replacement kit that is right for you. If you’re not sure what kind of windows you have, you can simply measure the size of your frame and sashes and order replacements.

The good news is that wooden window sash replacement is actually a pretty straightforward process and something that can be easily managed by a handy DIY-er on a weekend. With a little patience and organization, you can have the old sashes taken out and the new ones put in before you have to go back to work on Monday.

Let’s walk through the basics of removing the sashes from your windows.

Step 1. Remove the Stops 

The stop is a thin piece of wood that usually looks like it’s part of the molding. It runs vertically on both sides and along the top, and it holds the sash in place within the frame. Sashes are often nailed or screwed in, or else they are set in place with adhesive or caulk. If you can’t see the sash seam, it has probably been painted over; often, it’s been painted more than once over the frame’s lifetime.

To remove the stop, pry out any nails or unscrew the screws. You’ll need to cut through the painted seam with a small utility knife. Be careful not to tear or crack the stop as you remove it since you’ll need to reinstall it when you’re done as it will be a perfect match for the rest of the trim.

If the stops are very tight, use a small pry-bar or flat head screwdriver to pull them away from the trim. You can brace either of these against a small shim to protect the wood and limit the number of repairs you might need after installation.

Clean off any accumulated caulk from the jamb and stops once they’re removed. If you’re replacing more than one window, either do them one at a time or number or label your stops and frames, so you know what goes where during the replacement.

Step 2. Remove the Bottom Sash

With the stops out, you should be able to easily remove the bottom sash. If your window has been painted shut, you may need to use the utility knife to scrape the seam loose. Some windows may also have been screwed shut, so check for screws along the bottom of the sash.

Pull the sash free by lifting the top and tilting it toward you, then bring the whole sash out of the frame. Lift the bottom portion of the sash above the stool, also called the windowsill. If the sash is hung with ropes, remove it and leave the ropes in place for now.

If you are repairing the sash rather than replacing it, make sure you have a clean, level surface ready to store it safely, and label it clearly so you know which frame it will fit into after the repair. 

Step 3. Remove the Parting Bead and Top Sash

While technically two steps, these are usually done at the same time. The parting bead is a thin strip of wood, similar to the stops, but it runs along the middle interior of the frame and is pressed against the top sash. Parting beads are often painted into the frame, so it may take some work to pry them loose.

Removing the top sash follows essentially the same process as the bottom. Score the seams if the window has been painted shut, and look for any screws that might have been used to hold it in place. It make take a few passes with a utility knife to get the sash free. Pull it below the pulley in the frame, remove the ropes and bring the sash free by tilting it toward you.

Once the sash is clear, clean the frame of any built-up caulk or paint.

Step 4. Repair and Replace as Needed

Before you actually remove your sashes, you should have a repair kit on hand to repair the frame, sashes, pulleys or any other sash window parts that need repairing. If you need to replace, consider Fenster’s complete line of replacement sashes. They have 24 sash models designed to fit a number of classic windows and casements.

For more information, visit the Fenster website.


  • Posted October 2, 2019 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    where do I find Norco Window Jel-N-330 weather stripping?

    • Posted October 6, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mark, I don’t know exactly what that is. You won’t find any “brand specific” components in the market any more. Especially after a brand has gone out of business. We carry what we use on our replica sashes. We make several models of Norco so I would think we have something you can use or adapt. Our non-sash components are available for sale on our hardware site;

  • Charles C Davis
    Posted September 1, 2020 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I have wood double hung M and W windows throughout my house. The sashes are fine, but the aluminum and in some cases vinyl tracks that are attached to each jamb are not so good. These are the tracks that the sashes slide on. Are they available?

    • Posted September 14, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Charles, These are known as jambliners. We offered them at one point, but have since lost our supplier of components, we are working on it, but not getting much support. Maybe try back with us in a few months to see if we’ve made any progress.

  • Ellen
    Posted January 21, 2021 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I have wood MW windows that were installed 1999. The 3″ bottom on two windows are starting to rot. The top sash is fine. Do I understand it correctly? You do not sell just bottom sashes? Mine measure 28w x 30.5h.

  • Jack & Louise Klasing
    Posted February 11, 2021 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I have CARADCO double hung alum. sandstone on outside painted wood on inside, bottom sash rotten on 4 windows, 2- 341/2 wide X 271/2 high and 2-301/2 wide X 271/2 high, do I order for complete window or can I order for lower only, Glass is ok do I order for new glass also?

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