Mid-century and earlier homes were typically equipped with wood framed windows. Wood is still a very popular choice in the window market today. In fact, it is the most desired and expensive type of window available. But today's wood window is nothing like the ones of yesterday. With the introduction of aluminum cladding (wood frame wrapped with metal on the exterior) and when properly installed and maintained, the modern window will last for generations. Not so with old wood sash windows. The only protection given to the wood was a coat of paint. And if that is not properly applied and regularly maintained, the raw wood becomes exposed to water. Moisture causes the cells in wood to swell (sticky windows), which eventually leads to rot.
Just because a house is old, does not mean a restoration requires modernizing every element. In order to keep the feel of the period architecture (not to mention the ease on a budget), sometimes it's best to simply restore the original equipment. That's not to say all restorations are less expensive than replacement, it is just practical to explore all options before making a repair decision.
In this two-part article you'll see how a double-hung sash window is restored. Many projects like this do not require a lot of skill, just an understanding of procedure and how the system works. Part one explores window removal and rebuilding. Part two will show how all the pieces are reinstalled to prepare the windows for another generation of use.