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Ask the Builder: Restoring a bathroom window sash





This window has seen better days, but it’ s not ready for the landfill yet.


A fellow amateur radio operator sent me a photo of a wood window in his girlfriend’s bathroom. The window is suffering from rot, and the sash frame is starting to separate.

While I don’t have the epic enhanced observation powers of Shawn Spencer in the TV series “Psych,” I was able to determine by looking closely at the photo what caused the issue.

When I looked closely at the photograph, I could see a depressed part of the sash profile in the lower right corner. Water vapor from hot showers no doubt condensed on the glass pane, it then rolled down the window, and finally found a tiny crack to enter the wood at the sash corner.

I would guess that the problem has been going on for some time, and the weight of the glass pushing down on the lower, horizontal sash frame caused the two pieces of wood to separate at the corner. As the crack got bigger, more water entered faster and deeper, accelerating the rot.

Fortunately, this sash can be salvaged with a small amount of effort. Jeff may prefer to wait for warmer weather to do the job, but he can start a repair in the winter if he has the skills to cut a piece of plywood the same size as the sash so he can pull out the damaged sash to work on it. In warm weather, I’d just use a piece of thick cardboard to close up the opening while repairing the sash.

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