How to Take Your Double Hung Sash Window Apart

The sash window is fully restorable.  Taking your sash window apart for maintenance, replacing spirals / cords, beading is quite daunting if you haven't done it before, but actually pretty easy and straightforward once you know how.

1.  Remove the lower window (or sash, 'Sash' is a general term used for a moveable window panel).  This is simpler than people think.  The lower sash is prevented from falling into the room by two thin, vertical pieces of timber.  These are referred to as 'staff' or 'stop' beads (easy to remember as they 'stop' the sash from falling in).  The stop beads actually look like part of the window moulding but they are in fact fully detachable and held in place by small nails.  Insert a chisel between the bead and the moulding, give it a tap with a mallet and it should pry away.  Depending on how many layers of paint there are here you might have to persevere but it will come away eventually.   The lower sash will then come out easily, although it will be attached to the sash cord, if they are still in tact.  You can cut these and replace with new cord later.

2.  Behind the lower sash you'll see a vertical bead which separates it from the upper sash.  This is the all important "Parting Bead" and one we talk about a lot here at Lock and Latch because it's often the piece that DIY enthusiasts miss when draught sealing their sash windows.  You will need to also remove this parting bead if you want to remove the top sash.

3.  From here you should see a little compartment on either side of the window frame where the weights are hidden.  The weights may have been hidden away for years, and should still work fine, but often as sashes have thicker glass put in them the sash becomes heavier and more weight will need to be added.  See our article here if this is what you need to do. 

4.  From here you also have access to replace the sash cord, inspect and replace pulleys, if required, and to generally inspect the wood all around the frame for rot.

5.  Once done, put everything back the way it came in and nail the stop beads back into place. Tack the stop beads gently at first, you want to make sure theyre perfectly in position so that they aren't interfering with the free movement of the sash.

6.  When all of this is done, it might look a bit of a mess.  You may want to finish the job by painting and adding some new hardware which will have your window looking like new and will last for many years to come.