Many homes have wooden window frames or older sills, which unfortunately have a shelf life. Pops, cracks, mold and rotten sections may lead to a lot of problems, but can you do some fixes yourself or should you get your entire wooden window replaced?

How to Tell When You Have a Rotten Windowsill or Trim

These are all warning signs that it's time to replace a rotted windowsill, trim or wooden frame:

  • The wooden window frame exterior feels soft, spongy, crumbly or brittle to the touch.
  • There is mold along the exterior window frame. This might look like black flecks at first.
  • You can see visibly rotten sections.
  • There are cracks in the paint or sealant on the wooden frame.
  • There are gaps in the corners of the frame, or the corners aren't fitting together properly.
  • The nearby shingles or trim is slightly discolored.
  • There are rotten bricks or molding outside near the window.

Problems a Window's Rot Can Cause

  • Condensation and moisture can continue to spread and end up affecting the wall.
  • Extreme moisture can affect the electrical system on that wall.
  • Rotten cosmetic pieces (like your trim or sill) may lead to more rot. This can affect your actual window frame, which would then later require a full replacement.
  • Mold can also affect nearby shingles and bricks.

How to Replace Rotted Wood Around a Window

It takes a homeowner with a fair amount of experience to do a DIY repair of a rotted windowsill. If you're not comfortable or too forceful with your repair, you may accidentally do some damage to the frame, which would mean you'd need to do a full window replacement.

How to Replace a Rotted Windowsill

1. Cut off the rotted pieces. You may also need to chisel out sections. If it's very soft, you may be able to do this by just poking at rotten sections with a screwdriver. They should fall apart with very little force.

2. Get out as much of the rotted wood as you can and seal off the rest with wood hardener.

3. It's recommended to use a few coats of a wood filler to create a flat surface to put in your new pieces of wood. Be sure to put down masking tape as to not cover up or damage your shingles.

4. Replace the pieces with new wood blocks and nail them into place. Cedar is the standard. Slowly and carefully drill the new pieces into place.

5. Seal gaps with resin and/or caulk, then paint the sill so that it matches the rest of the wooden frame.

Note again that, sometimes, in the process of repairing the wooden trim or sills, you may accidentally do damage to the frame or window itself. It's also possible that you might uncover more damage than expected, such as from termites. In those instances, it's best to get on the phone with a professional.

How to Repair a Rotted Window Frame

If this fix goes beyond the cosmetic (in other words, if it's more than just the trim or the sill), and the rot has affected the interior of an old frame right up to the glass, plastic or vinyl sections, it's generally best to get a replacement. This is not an easy DIY project; it's very easy to damage the glass and entire structure of your window, even if you do manage to safely take out the frame from your wall.

Infinity from Marvin windows are made from fiberglass. They are eight times stronger than vinyl and won't lead to sudden rot; they're well worth the investment in this case.

How to Know When You Need a Full Window Replacement

Click here to learn how to prevent and fix wood rot problems with your windows.

It can be hard to tell at first whether you can do a few quick DIY window frame repairs or whether you're going to need a full replacement of your entire window. Make a few more observations before you start chiseling away, and you'll save a lot of time and heartache.

If any of these situations apply, it's best to get a full replacement:

  • Moisture collects between the panes of your windows; they seem to look "dirty."
  • You can feel a draft from your window.
  • There's light coming in through cracks around your window's frame.
  • It's an older window that doesn't open or shut properly.
  • There are other structural flaws, such as the window frame leaning or not seeming to be stable.
  • There are cracks or damage to the actual glass.
  • The rot seems to be affecting more than just the trim pieces.

In all of these cases, just fixing the sill or trim is not going to fix those problems. You're going to need a new set of windows. Those in Georgia can connect with us at 770 888-1604 to learn about Infinity from Marvin fiberglass replacement windows.