In the world of interior design, reclaimed and restored pieces are very popular. That’s true for just about every aspect of design. Reclaimed hardwood is being used for floors, ceilings, cabinets, furniture, and more. Many designers and homeowners are also looking for antique windows. The windows are so interesting and unique that they’re often used simply as decoration and not even as functioning windows. The patina, aging, and scars are all part of the appeal. However, there can be too much of a good thing. If you’ve got some antique windows, you might need to restore them somewhat to allow them to truly shine. That will take some particular care. Here’s how you can do that.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
When you are dealing with antique windows, it’s best to start small. You can always do more in the future; you can’t undo work if you’ve damaged the windows. Since you don’t know how the windows will react to the chemicals you are using, always use your most gentle cleaners first.
Dirt and oil build up over time, so it might take time to clean them away. Start with a mild glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Give the glass cleaner time to penetrate the dirt and oil before you move to anything stronger. The same is true for the wooden window frame. Be careful with harsh chemicals or lots of moisture. Wood will absorb moisture, which can cause rotting or warping. Avoid that by being very careful and only using a damp cloth at first.
If the grime still exists on the glass after you’ve used standard chemicals, it’s time to move to oxalic acid. This is a harsh chemical that is typically available in powder form. It’s an abrasive that will scrape away grease and dirt but it won’t scratch the glass. When you’re using it, follow the directions on the packaging. Also, it’s important to let the chemical do the work for you. Don’t scrub too hard or you risk just breaking the glass.
For the wooden frame, you need to decide how much of the original patina you’re going to keep. If it’s got a rustic look that you like, you can just preserve that look by applying a layer of polyurethane or oil to the wood. You don’t want to get this on the glass, though. Tape the glass off with some painter’s tape to keep polyurethane contained.
If you want, you can sand and stain the window frame before refinishing it. You’ll still need to tape them to protect the glass.