Your Old Wood Windows Can Be Fixed

Lakeshore News Service

Steve Quillian is a man on a mission: He wants to train contractors and do-it-yourselfers to fix old wood windows.

Quillian, founder of Wood Window Makeover of Tampa, Fla., thinks too many owners of old buildings choose to replace windows that could be restored for less money.

“A good restored window is more energy efficient than a replacement window,” Quillian said.

One reason people opt for replacement, Quillian said, is that buyers are overwhelmed by the marketing campaigns of companies selling—and financing—replacement windows. Another reason is the lack of tradespeople who know how to fix old windows. Quillian is trying to do something about that.


Before and After Window Repairs

“I am a historic preservationist,” he said. “If I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I have to put people in the business, so there is someone to work on these windows.” 

 “There’s an opportunity right now bigger than it’s ever been for people to get into the window restoration business, because the need is so vast. I want to show them how to do it. I want to show them how to make cash with window sash.”

Quillian provides instruction in window restoration at his shop and also hosts an annual Historic Homes Workshop in Tampa. He will be presenting a one-day Wood Window Restoration Workshop on Saturday, April 8, at Kemper Center on the lakefront in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The workshop is sponsored by Abatron, a Kenosha-based manufacturer of WoodEpox® and other products used in historic preservation.

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Historic Homes Workshop, 2016

The workshop will cover identification of historic window parts, safe sash removal, sash cord replacement, effective paint stripping, epoxy repair, glass replacement and glazing and proper painting techniques.

Quillian knows from his workshops that homeowners, even those who are pretty ambitious about making repairs themselves, are often reluctant to work on their own windows.

He tells do-it-yourselfers: “You know, the windows just go up and down in their track. You’re smarter than the window; I promise you that.

 “People want to complicate things,” he said. “The sash [the moveable part of the window] is designed to come out. Windows come apart really quickly. We teach the advantage of that and how to do it.”

Quillian said that he often works on houses in which some of the windows have been replaced more than once, while the original windows are still holding up. If more artisans were trained to repair old windows, he said, homeowners wouldn’t feel compelled to replace a window that has lasted 100 years with a new window that is guaranteed for only 15 years.

Why do old windows last so long? According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, old windows, especially if they were built before 1940, were probably made from old-growth wood, which is significantly more dense, durable, rot resistant, and dimensionally stable than the wood used in new windows.

Historic preservation organizations, along with trade groups such as the Window Preservation Alliance, urge owners of old buildings to look at the architectural, economic, and environmental advantages of repairing—not replacing—the original windows.

And craftsmen like Steve Quillian will teach people how to do it.

Event Details:

What: Wood Window Restoration Workshop.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Where: Kemper Center, 6501 3rd Ave., Kenosha, Wis.

Cost: $70 per person. Cost includes lunch and a 24-oz Wood Restoration Kit.

Presenter: Steve Quillian, founder of Wood Window Makeover, Tampa, Fla.

How to register: Call 800-445-1754 or email