Maintaining Wood Window Frames

by James Florence


While wood is a popular option for window frames, it requires ongoing maintenance to ensure top performance. Photo: Larsen Construction (2013)

When it comes to window frames, wood is one of the most popular choices among homeowners. Functioning on both aesthetic and functional levels, wood enhances a home’s visual beauty while acting as an effective insulator. However, unlike other options like vinyl and fiberglass, wood window frames require ongoing maintenance to keep them looking beautiful and functioning properly.

Since wood is a natural substance, its porous quality renders it vulnerable to degradation from outdoor elements like UV rays and moisture. Untreated wood products that are exposed to excessive sunlight are subject to rapid deterioration, causing discoloration as well as cracks that enable moisture to enter, which often results in the proliferation of mold and other fungi. Untreated wood is also susceptible to insect infestation.

To stand up to these outdoor elements, exterior wood needs to be painted and/or treated with a finish. Painting and finishing wood seals it and protects it from the elements, which is why maintaining the paint or finish coat on wood window frames is so crucial.

Painting and finishing isn’t just a one-time application. Regular maintenance consists of repainting and refinishing exterior window frames on a continuous basis. If you notice the paint or finish is cracking or peeling off, it means the wood is exposed to the weather and it’s time to reapply the sealing product.

Another way to protect your exterior wood window frames from the effects of sun and rain is installing overhangs—they’ll shade the frames from harmful UV rays and reduce the amount of moisture they receive in the rainy season, allowing paint and finish to last much longer.

Besides protecting your wood window frames from the elements, another important part of maintenance is regular cleaning. Scrubbing surfaces with a wet, soft-bristled brush will suffice for removing dirt, while heavier accumulations can be dealt with by applying a mild solution of household detergent or a mixture of alcohol and water. To remove stubborn residue or mildew, consider lightly sanding and refinishing affected areas.

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