Repairing a historic wood window in Newton, Mass.

Jul 11, 2018

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by Nigel Costolloe, president, Catchlight Painting, a Historic New England Preservation Partner

This once lovely window beneath the eaves of a historic home in Newton, Massachusetts, had deteriorated after long years of exposure to the elements. To recreate a window such as this would cost a small fortune. Because 90% of its casing remained sound, replacement seemed unnecessarily wasteful. Catchlight was hired to paint the home’s exterior trim and restore the window to its former glory. Several members of our crew are expert in the repair and restoration of architectural features both historic and contemporary.

Exterior of a Newton, Mass., home with a deteriorated window

Scaffolding was needed to access the upper trim and weathered window on the home’s third floor.

Closeup of deteriorated window

In closeup it’s easy to appreciate the window’s inherent beauty as well as its need for repair!

Detail of deteriorated wood in window

Pieces of loose paint, caulk, and wood are gently removed. Much of the wood will be set back into place. (Puzzle skills are a plus!)

A priming agent is applied to the window

Here a liquid priming agent is applied. This primer penetrates deeply into the wood fibers insuring a strong, durable, subsurface bond between wood and the epoxy resin that we will use to fill voids and reconstruct missing elements.

Epoxy resin seals old wood

The epoxy resin effectively seals and fortifies the old wood. Like clay, it can be shaped and sculpted while moist. This is a specialty product, one we employ frequently where age or dry rot present a challenge.

Window midway through treatment

The window, much improved, still has a way to go. A second application of epoxy will be applied and shaped so that the bottom, side, and top edges of the window casing are once again uniform.

The window is restored to its former beauty

Voilà! We have successfully turned back the clock. This lovely window is once again as strong and stately as the day it was crafted, more than 120 years ago. There are not many carpenters around today with the old-school knowledge and skill needed to create a window such as this, nor painters capable of such restorative repair. We’re proud of what we were able to achieve.

This article was originally published on Catchlight Painting’s website. Learn more about Catchlight’s historic and restorative home painting services.


Nigel Costolloe is the president of Catchlight Painting, a full-service residential and commercial painting company serving Greater Boston. He is active regionally and nationally in the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) as a leader, speaker, and mentor.