San Francisco window repair contractor recommendations

bruchuSeptember 24, 2013

Hi everyone,

We are considering restore / repair of our 150 year old double hung wood windows, but we haven't been able to find many contractors that will do window restoration here in San Francisco.

Our windows are in decent shape, but have been painted shut and some sash cords are broken.

Any readers have contractor or handyman recommendations for the SF Bay Area for window repair / restoration? How much should I expect to pay per window?


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Circus Peanut

Definitely ask the friendly old window pros over at historicalhomeworks. They also keep a list of window specialists all over the country.

Here is a link that might be useful: John Leeke's window restoration site

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Doing them yourself is not that hard. I've just finished the 16 casements in the sunroom. It does take a lot of time, though much of that is for drying. Get Meany's book on windows and see if you can do at least some of it. I'm not all that handy yet found that the skills are easily mastered if the windows are in decent shape. Actually, now I'm redoing several sashes that I paid a window guy to do b/c I'm willing to take the time to do it right and am not billing by the hour.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 2:35PM
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Ralph Torres at Frameworks in Oakland MIGHT be able to recommend someone. He built all our reproductions and has worked on lots of historic buildings, so he might have a line on someone who could help. We DIYed all of our old ones; I agree it wasn't horrible, though we did have to use some more advanced skills and tools to cut some jamb pockets for the cords on the windows where the trim was too delicate to remove from the walls.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Thanks for the responses ... I did pick up "Working Windows" and am working my way through one window.

The windows are actually in fairly good shape, so I'm going to try to do some light rehab on my own.

We did have a restoration guy come out and they estimated around $800 per window for restoration. For now, our main concern is getting the drafty windows, so I'm going to vinyl v-flex tape for now and if that doesn't make much of a difference, then we may look into double pane replacements.

I haven't yet found any local resources for hardware (parting beads, stop bead adjusters), so am ordering all of this online. I was hoping there would be local stores with all the victorians in San Francisco, but haven't had an luck.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 4:14PM
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We got our parting beads at our east bay Ace Hardware (El Cerrito). They are a millimeter too wide for our channels, so we have to run them once through the planer VERY lightly, but they might work in yours. If you're still having draft problems, considering adding storms before destroying the window character of your house (and putting yourself in a replacement cycle that will never pay for itself). And take a look at this thread first:

One thing I have discovered about old windows and contractors is that the quotes will vary widely. Like one contractor will be a factor of two to three times higher than another. Happened to me on NorCal while looking to have some milled and happened to a friend of mine in SoCal who was just looking for some rehab. If you've only had one quote, I'd get a couple more.

This post was edited by juno2008 on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 17:15

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Bruchu, I am very concerned about your comment on the drafty windows: 'we'll get double-paned replacements'. I'm sorry, but that is the wrong approach. The vinyl v-tape is a temporary fix, but going from that straight to replacing original good shape windows is just nuts. So is a cost of $800 per window if they are in good shape.

You can buy metal v-strip weatherstripping at several places online, and probably also at a local store...that is going to be a better solution and easier than the very best one I mention next, which is called 'integral weatherstripping'.

Integral, or carpenter-made weatherstripping is a system where metal strips are fastened to the jambs, sill and header of the frame, which has a flange in it (looks like an upside down 'T'. The flange fits into a slot in the window sashes creating a seal all the way around the windows.

My house built in 1908 has it on every single window except in the basement, and it works very well. Better than my aluminum storms in fact. It can be installed yourself with a router with a slot-cutting bit, so it isn't necessary to find a professional to do it--you just need to make sure the measurements are right so the slot and flange line up.

Below is a link for a good source of both types:

Here is a link that might be useful: Kilian Weatherstripping

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 4:55PM
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thanks for the feedback. i put in an order for spring bronze weatherstripping. one of the 10 windows that i have had it installed and it seemed to be a pretty tight fit.

one question that i had on that ... is there some way to installing the spring bronze to still give easier access to the sash weight pockets?

i'm also going to give the schlegel polyflex a try. they sell one version that is 1.25" wide.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 3:23PM
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Circus Peanut

one question that i had on that ... is there some way to installing the spring bronze to still give easier access to the sash weight pockets?

Install the spring bronze on the sash, not on the window frame. It's 6 of one, half-dozen of the other, and that way you still have to grapple, but not quite as much.

My 103-year-old windows have the routed in metal locking weatherstripping, and it's a right pain to pry it off the jamb without damaging it, in order to access the weight pockets.

Also, depending on your interior trim, it's often possible to just take the trim board off and get into the pocket that way.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:19PM
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In San Francisco, I found the following resources for parting beads & windows stop:

1. Discount Builders Supply
2. Beronio Lumber
3. Lowes

Lowes was pricey compared to Discount Builders Supply. I did not head to Beronio, but they list as having multiple types of parting bead and window stops on their website.

All seem to only carry the materials in pine.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 2:29PM
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