Standards for Window Restoration
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 568
Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Homeowners want their older windows repaired, restored, and fixed. They know the terms used, but in our experience they have absouletly no clue of how this is accomplished.

Architects follow the wishes of building owners and governing agencies in putting together a rehab, resotration and repair lists for contractors to follow to complete the work. But they don't have a clear procedures list of what we do to ensure their client is getting an appropriate procedure for the repair of any given window. So, they always include the option of new replacement windows.

This I think is our motivation for coming up with a set of standards to follow.

I see that as being the most important event to improve this industry.

One of the tough parts is asking the questions or presenting a part of a procedure that may be controversial.

Here's an example: I too don't think Epoxy should be used to build a tenon or buildup a badly rotted rail that should be replace. However, I have repaired a tenon by doweling through the mortise and into the rail and then filling the areas in the mortise around the dowels with Epoxy. I qualify this procedure when the rail is in good condition with the exception of the tenon.

Now this example is the meat of the need for standards. If this group says this is not acceptable I will change to comply to the standards. If this procedure is acceptable, by the standards I will achieve added confidence and overall that confidence will show up in general quality of our service. either way it's all good.

Steve S
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Steve Schoberg provides an example:
I have repaired a tenon by doweling through the mortise and into the rail and then filling the areas in the mortise around the dowels with Epoxy. I qualify this procedure when the rail is in good condition with the exception of the tenon.


And here is the proposed standard:
***** Traditional/Modern Choice Standard - Proposed
1. First consider and use traditional methods and materials, since they have been well proven by the test of time over the long-term (at least 100 years). If there is a thoughtful reason they will not work, then consider modern methods and materials.
2. Only use modern methods and materials that have actually been proven by the test of time over the mid-term (at least 20 years). If a method or material has been proven and documented as effective for at least two decades, then it can be used, but must still be monitored for performance over the long-term.
3. Only use modern methods and materials that have been available for less than 20 years in a testing situation where they are thoroughly documented for routine study on how they perform in the future.
*****

How does this example fit the proposed standard?

Since it uses a modern material, epoxy, and since (I suspect) it has been used by Steve for less that 20 years, it would appear to most likely fit under criteria 3., but we need to know more. Steve, have you documented this method in writing, say, with a step-by-step description, identifying specifically what methods, tools and materials are used? And, where and when the method was used? To use this method and meet the standard you would have to consider its use a test, which would mean going back every so often (say every 5 or 10 years, what ever your own testing and development program calls for) and check it's condition, determine the cause of any failures, make changes in your method to prevent those failures.

If Steve shares the detailed description of his method, and others have used the same method for more than 20 years, then they could provide their example for review, which might bump this method up to the 2. criteria. In reviewing the details of the method others might make suggestions to improve the method, for example, using a migrating borate preservative to prevent decay in the wood next to the epoxy repair.

Quote:
Steve writes:
Now this example is the meat of the need for standards. If this group says this is not acceptable I will change to comply to the standards. If this procedure is acceptable, by the standards I will achieve added confidence and overall that confidence will show up in general quality of our service. either way it's all good.


I have written this standard to be inclusive, not exclusive. It is not up to the group developing the standard (or subscribing to the standard) to say whether or not the method is acceptable. That is up to Steve, or the specifier for a project, whoever is deciding what will be done. The specification might say, "Meet criteria 3. of the Traditional/Modern Choice Standard" (this repair method could be used), or "Meet criteria 1...(this repair method could not be used)

You may be thinking, what good is the standard if anything can be done. Well, it helps assure that the most proven methods are used more commonly, while allowing for developing new methods that may be good. It does assure that new methods cannot be used and then simply forgotten about. For example, a 'gooper' dips a rotten sash joint in epoxy. 10 years later the joint is rotting out, and the 'gooper', if he can be found, could care less. Following this standard helps prevent this from happening.

If a shop does not have a formal testing and development program, then they could operate under criteria 1. & 2., and still meet the standard.

This standard promotes the use of proven effective methods, AND the development of new effective methods. It assumes that the craftsperson knows what s/he is doing. As Bob Yapp says, "We're out there every day doing the work and [we know] better what works and doesn't."

These are OUR standards, not the architects' standards, not the government's standards, not the manufacturers' standards.

To get back to Steve's initial comment, of craftsmen vs. goopers:

Would using this standard help craftspeople create effective repairs and limit goopers installing products?

Would it help YOU to do this?

Would it help you compete with the goopers and get the contract instead of them?

Are you willing to say you will follow this standard, or be willing to go by it if required by the specifier?

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by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Bob Yapp writes:
I recently went back to a house where I restored the windows completely over 30 years ago. They still look excellent and have original paint/putty I installed.


Bob, could you provide a brief description of this work to be use as an example to support this proposed standard? (include procedure, methods, tools materials, current conditions (photos?), etc.) I suspect it could meet criteria 1., but let's see.

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yapperman



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Hannibal, Missouri

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My lead fogged brain didn't take pictures of the sash I did 30 years ago. While the work has held up over that period of time I have changed my methods considerably over that 30 years. Especially in regard to lead paint removal, weatherization, storms and retaining original glass (I now keep as much original glass as possible). I can tell you that the nylon sash cords, according to the homeowner, lasted about 12 years before the u.v. light took it's toll. I now use only cotton rope. I used oil primer and oil topcoats by Benjamin Moor. But see, that's the problem, B.M has changed their paints etc.

So, John asked to document that process done 30 years ago and I can, but is it really relevent for the standards we're working on today?

I'm also not sure about the "20 year" track record. While I totally agree that is usually takes that long to really see how a product or method performs in the field, we may be missing out on some really good innovations that have had excellent accellerated testing or shorter field testing.

For instance, we lost a nice greesy putty a few of years ago and I've been using Glazol since then. Now, I've developed some very specific ways to use this linseed oil based putty that make it perform well and it has a track record with me of about 4 years. In fact, most modern glazing putties (except the soy bean oil putties, DAP/Sarco etc, that do not work in my opinion on wood sash) don't have a monitered, 20 year track record. Any thoughts?

BY
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yapperman



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Hannibal, Missouri

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thought. Where are all the so-called "goopers" folks are talking about. Are there enough of these companies out there to create a real problem? I haven't seen any to date here in the Midwest. Up to now most of us are craftspersons/artisans who got into this because we love the craft and historic properties. I've trained over a hundred small contractors how to do this work properly. I was trained as a furniture designer and maker with a German Master. Everything else I've learned on my own.

What about our friends in the steel casement window restoration business. John Seekircher in New York would have a fit about this. Why? He truly believes that he has developed methods he refuses to share. John believes he's worked hard to build his business so why would he pass his knowledge on to competition.

I love John and he's clearly at the top of his craft, but I don't agree with him on this subject. However, that attitude is more prevelant than we know and we've all developed methods we probably want to keep to ourselves in order to keep our edge over the competition.

Bob Yapp
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 786
Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think it's great that we've got this discussion involving folks from across the country and that there are different but similar views...

though i feel my window restoration business is based on best practices that support a lasting end product, i'm not sure that others who employ different practices offer a higher or lower quality of work...

i've used glazol and don't like it...i've used water based putty and don't like it...that doesn't mean that my choice of putty is superior to others'...

in my window restoration workshops, i encourage folks to undertake preserving their windows for future generations...if that means using dap33, metal 'L' brackets or paint from home despot, who am i to say that those standards are subpar? i offer the class a list of the products/suppliers that i use but there are many reasons why people will choose other resources...

i guess i am playing satan's sister, er, the devil's advocate here...stirring the pot as it were (was, will be...) to invite other's feedback...

here's a question i will pose to my fellow preservationists: how do you handle a situation where the client requests that you patch/spot repair an area where old putty has dried and crumbled? i've done it maybe twice with the usual caveats....when asked, i let the prospective client know that it is something that can be done but there is no guarantee that the repair will last a season, a year or a decade....this is when we have them sign and date our 'tail light guarantee' form and hand over the cash or certified money order for the patch job.......

...jade
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
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Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jade, thanks for jumping in here.

Quote:
how do you handle a situation where the client requests that you patch/spot repair an area where old putty has dried and crumbled?


Check this method for Putty Maintenance and Repair:

http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1574

I think it would fit this standard at criteria 1., once I've seen something very similar used on some 1905 windows and still holding up.

I've been using it since my dad show it to me on my grandma's storm windows in the 1960s.

In more recent years it has pushed the life of deteriorating putty out for another 15+ years of service. Keep it painted and like most methods it just goes and goes.

But, like you say, building owners need to know about the need for ongoing maintenance. That sounds like the subject for another standard: a requirement to detail ongoing maintenance for every job. It is a requirement on many contracts I have worked under and written my self over the years. How would you like to write up that standard?

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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Bob writes:
John Seekircher...has developed methods he refuses to share. John believes he's worked hard to build his business so why would he pass his knowledge on to competition...that attitude is more prevalent than we know and we've all developed methods we probably want to keep to ourselves in order to keep our edge over the competition.


It's OK for a business to keep proprietary information secret, in fact it is a common business practice.

To develop and subscribe to standards no one has to give up secrets they want to keep. They can just say they meet the standard, then if their customers want assurance that they do, they can demonstrate that they do privately to the client.

Off topic, but still important:
There IS more to be said about this. One of the aspects of being a "professional" is that you give back to your field. Sharing technical details is one way that is easy for us small time operators to be professional. That doesn't mean we have to give away the whole store. But, a true professional might share the details of one method or even just one aspect of one method. Or, a true professional might not share anything while they are in business, but when they 'retire' they might write their book, or give their collection of tools and work samples to a school, etc.

Not that being a 'professional' is always a desirable goal. It is very possible, and perhaps even easier to just be a tradesperson and business person and still to do a lot of good in this world.

In my own experience, the more I share, the further ahead I get because it tends to put all the people around me further ahead. We all get ahead together.

This is fundamentally different than the corporate business model. How do you think the big corporations got so big? They keep secrets. They are so secretive that they don't even want their customers talking to each other. They certainly don't want anyone to know who they are paying off in Washington and elsewhere. And they really don't want any of us window specialists talking to each other! (if you want to know more about this read Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben. He explains why the corporateers are beginning to fail, and why our kind of local business is more likely to succeed, and in some unexpected ways.)

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by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought


Last edited by johnleeke on Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sswiat



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 231
Location: Cambria, New York

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jade:

Like minds...

I was thinking along those lines. Both for residential and commercial the budget often defines the level of work that can be done. One may look at a restored window and say "what a poor job" however they will not know what the budget allowed for. Although wood repairs may be the best, the budget may call for epoxy (or just corner braces).

As with the AWI Quality standards, they have different categories of quality (premium, custom, economy)as they recognized that the project budget will dictate the level of work/material quality.
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 568
Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am an open book. I will share my knowledge with everyone and
anyone. What you see is what you get! I'm both excited and passionate about window restoration. It has given me much more than I can ever return.

I have learned a bunch on my own and from venues like this forum and all the kind knowlegable people that are willing to share their knowledge and experience to further the preservation of a very large part of our architectural heritage.

I see commercial construction as one of the areas that need help in defining what it is we do and how it should be done. Who better to do this than the people that are involved in doing it every day.

But all customers including residential need to know what it is we do. What better way than for our industry to come together and set basic standards. If we can accomplish this, it will do nothing but help each of us as individual business'.

I'm all in and will contiue to participate and contribute.

Steve S
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 568
Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We do not have a maintenance program for windows. We just do not have the time or manpower to do the kind of job that would need to be done.
So, when we have a customer that just wants spot repair done for paint, putty we refer then to a painter.
I might add that we market to a number of local painters here our service for sash restoration. We want them to know that when they come to a sash that maybe needs more attention than caulk and paint that we will restore those sashes with quick return time to not slow them down.

What may be another one of our short comings, we only bring sashes into our shop that warrant a full restoration. Of course there's different stages of deterioration and I always reserve the option of adjusting the price accordingly. I can't say that I have ever, just put on corner braces (and I know that was just an example).

I also know that there are tons and tons of windows that we don't see that are in varying degrees of need. We just don't get many call unless the windows need a full restore and the cutomers are ready to do something.

Steve S
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sswiat



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 231
Location: Cambria, New York

PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just food for thought:

Based on what the other Steve S comments are, before we start creating standards should we define categories/levels/classes of window restoration with different standards to each category.

Categories/levels/classes that come to mind are:

Repair
Stabilization
Restoration
Replacement
Conservation



Conservation work would definitely have different standards than restoration (e.g epoxy consolidant vs rosin consolidant).

Each category would have different standards however, the lower categories standards should be reversible and never affect the higher categories restoration in the future.

Thus if funds are limited at a certain point, maybe proper stabilization could be performed which would preserve the sash for later restoration instead of "on the cheap" restoration which actually could harm the sash for proper future work?
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sschoberg



Joined: 29 Oct 2008
Posts: 568
Location: Plymouth, Indiana

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do like the idea of categories for different services.

I really like the idea of different levels of restoration. Here's some ideas;

Full Restorations;

1. Museum quality- no epoxy, full use of dutchman, scarf and full piece duplication from salvaged like kind wood.

2. Grade A-Full function; All the above and no more than 10% use of epoxies.

3. Grade B-Full function: all the above and with no more than 20% use of epoxies.


Using these designations with sub descriptive sub allowances under each, of what this particular category will allow. ie, dowels, etc.

And I think it would be good to stamp each window and componants with the level of restoration along with name of restorer.

Steve S
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johnleeke
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, this discussion on standards has been lively and enlightening. The single standard that I proposed stimulated wider consideration of what we're doing here. So, let's take a step back just a bit to think about this.

Defintions:

A standard is a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated; they set the measure for subsequent work"

A standard practice or procedure gives a set of instructions for performing operations or functions.
--Wikipedia

and

"A technical standard may be developed privately or unilaterally, for example by a person, corporation, regulatory body, military, etc. Standards can also be developed by groups such as trade unions, and trade associations. Standards organizations often have more diverse input and usually develop voluntary standards: these might become mandatory if adopted by a government, business contract, etc." --Wikipedia

and

"The existence of a published standard does not imply that it is always useful or correct. For example, if an item complies with a certain standard, there is not necessarily assurance that it is fit for any particular use. The people who use the standard ... have the responsibility to consider the available standards, specify the correct one, enforce compliance, and use the standard correctly. Validation of suitability is necessary. --Wikipedia"

Here is a definition of Guideline:

A guideline is any document that aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine. By definition, following a guideline is never mandatory (protocol would be a better term for a mandatory procedure).

Guidelines may be issued by and used by any organization (governmental or private) to make the actions of its [people] more predictable, and presumably of higher quality.
--Wikipedia

Observations:


==> In my own trades work I have my own shop standards. I call them 'standards' because they are more than simply 'the way I do things.' Many tradespeople and shops have 'the way' they do things. They recall the last time they did it and do it the same way again. This depends on memory and 'the way' often drifts over the long-term; a step gets left out, or a different material is used or another worker has another way. Along 'the way' the result of the work changes, which might be good--or not good. Or a key employee is lost, and all of "the ways" she knew are gone. My dad taught me to keep 'work notes' and early in my work career these written notes became my 'standards'. Benefits: I can exactly recreate a result for a piece of work I have not done in 30 years. When I go back and see a piece of my work has failed I can look up exactly how I did it, which helps find the cause, and update my written standard to include the improvement. After that all my work of that type is improved. Over the decades this adds up to pretty good work and very consistent results, my work lasts longer, I have fewer call backs, work more effectively, make more money, etc. If I am lost someone could pick up my standards binder and be likely to carry on my work with very similar results. (Those of you who have read my articles and publications over the years are often looking at my written standards. After a few decades of proven performance I'm comfortable enough with my standards to share them with some confidence that others will find them useful.) So, that's why I suggest that a set of standards we could all follow would benefit us all.

==> I suggest this current endeavor is not to establish training programs, certify workers, write model specifications or educate the American public in why our work is important (although these are important things that would be good to do), but this endeavor is to begin in a small way to set a few standards that will serve us in our work and business. By limiting the scope we can actually come up with something definite and useful within a fairly short time, say several weeks or a few months at most.

==> Some have said via email that the term "standard" is getting in our way. Review the definitions above and let us know what you think. I suggest we call this "setting standard guidelines", which would let us pick and choose and still get something done.

==> Once we have develop a few standard guidelines we can see how they work, revise them if needed, expand on them, develop new ones, etc.

==> It will be nice when someone gives us $90,000 to develop national window training programs and an entire set of formally adopted standards, but let's not hold our breath. (But, you can bet that the first thing they will want in the grant proposal is some real demonstration that there is a need and ability to develop standards.)

==> I suggest that we develop a set of 3 to 5 standards to cover some of the basic issues, like how to decide between traditional and modern methods; and another 3 to 5 on more specific issues, like how to repair weather checks in wood sills.

Next Steps


==> I'll set up a new special section here at the Forum for Window Standards, so we can have more than one discussion going on at a time.
http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=37


==> I'll pull out the standard guideline I proposed and put it in another discussion, and let this discussion stand for general considerations.
http://historichomeworks.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1622


==> If you would like to propose a new standard guideline, click on "new topic" below and go right ahead.

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John

by hammer and hand great works do stand
by pen and thought best words are wrought


Last edited by johnleeke on Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:49 am; edited 2 times in total
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MohrJax



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 23
Location: Jacksonville, Florida

PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Someone like me who is new to the window restoration business -less than 2 years- has to relied on experienced craftsmen like John Leeke to get a long lasting job. I have read articles, books, phamplets, forums, etc. and I've had to adapt those "standards" to my enviroment: whether it is my small shop or the crazy Florida weather. I have already developed 'my way' and thats what I teach other.However, they adapt it to how they do things and the problem with that is that they may try something "new" to them but I/we know that it doesn't give good result however they dont know that. of course when there were taught a,b,c they weren't informed that d is no good. But regardless, there are the basics- a standard. When someone tells me to try these method or a new product I would like to tell them "well try it at your house and let me know in 20 years!" because I know what I'm doing works. My down fall is not keeping good written notes when I do adapt 'my way' to conformed to a specific circumstance. Long story longer- I think we all have a 'standard' that we follow but it would help to have an official standard/basics in window restoration. Some people do like to keep a certain method a secret or give very little information when asked about the mehod- it doesn't seem like a bad idea b/c after all we all need to make a living but at the same time the owner has a right to know.
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MOHR Historic Restoration Company
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