Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Window Transom Restoration & Stencilling Project

Most Victorian homeowners have them. More often than not they simply don't work, or are painted shut. As I mentioned in a previous blog the front entrance transom was broken when we acquired our home. Last week we opened up a side door than fortunately has the same size transom as our front door. We removed that transom and you can see it now looks good as new. In addition to restoring this transom we also stencilled the house number on it as was often a common practice during the time this home was built.

Many of the restoration aspects of a transom apply as well to regular windows. Our transom was in fair condition having been protected by a side porch for most of its life but has some issues with the wood framework which was badly deteriorated in one corner. In fact we were missing a 'chunk" of wood from the corner that may have been a knot in the wood. The main reason that we wanted to save this transom is that it had the original "old glass" that the front door had and we wanted our entry to look consistent.

You want to strip as much paint as possible from the transom especially on the outside which in many cases will have "alligatoring" a crackle like paint finish. This is caused by many layers of paint expanding and contracting at different rates. If you don't remove this old paint the crackle will come back. Because this transom had been varnished it was easy to get under the paint and scrape if off. We also cut a new corner piece which was attached and bonded to the original wood then allowed to dry and lightly sanded. The transom was cleaned and primed and painted. Interestingly enough the trim color we selected matches closely the original first trim painting in a dark green color.

We also removed all the old window glazing but did not remove the window from the frame as I might normally have done. the reason was that the window was still tightly held in with the glazing point and trying to remove them to take the window out might have resulted in the cracking of this original glass so it was cleaned out and then reglazed. The old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it applies here".

We also removed the interior hardware which was covered with several layers of paint . this was carefully "picked' off to revealed a beautiful eastlake inspired hardware.

The window was thoroughly cleaned then the stencilling was applied. First a base solid coat which was carefully edged and cleaned up after the stencil was removed. This was then hand painted with gold paint, just as it would have been done back in the day. Weather permitting I hope to have this re-installed soon and will have photos of the install.


Fifteenth and Vine said...

I restored my transoms to working order last year and added interchangeable storm windows and screens. They provide wonderful cross-ventilation, especially if left open all night. Green design before its time.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful work! I own a Victorian home, as well, and was hoping to paint the house number on our transom, too. However, I've had trouble finding a stencil. Could you tell me where you found yours? Any info is greatly appreciated!