Window Sill Care: What to do with ugly window sills.
Taking care of the sills of your windows is a normal part of home maintenance and should be taken care of every two to three years. In your bathrooms and kitchens, because of moisture, this maintenance probably needs to be done yearly.
If you have stained wood it’s pretty obvious when it’s in need of TLC. It will look like it’s lined with light colored scratches. The color will be splotchy or discolored on the surface. There could be cracks in the finish. What’s worse is if it’s cracked thru the finish and into the wood. This can be bad because moisture is now degrading the wood. Sun light can ruin the wood as well as it can start to burn the wood causing it to look old. It’s still possible to fix but will require more work.
If you have painted sills, usually the caulking will start to separate from the paint along the edges. The paint can also start peeling from the surface of the sill. If moisture gets under the paint the sill material can start expanding. I’ve seen sills where the moisture has been allowed to seep into the wood for long enough that they could not be fixed as the wood had dry-rot underneath. Those sills can’t be saved and must be replaced. This can be more expensive because instead of sanding and putting on a finish coat, we’re removing the old piece, going to the lumber store and buying another piece, custom cutting it to fit, installing it, sanding, staining and finishing. This is more labor intensive and labor is always more expensive than material. Even doing it yourself, with the cost of gas and time, a couple hour’s project could turn into a couple of days.
When dealing with stained sills you will have to determine what kind of sheen the clear coat is. Is it a high gloss, semi-gloss or a satin sheen? High gloss = super shiny; semi gloss = less shiny; and satin sheen = dull and hides fingerprints well. Typical houses are either semi or satin. If you have painted sills and don’t want to change the color, hopefully the painter that painted the sills left some extra paint when he finished painting. If the left over can has enough in it just stir it up really well and use it. If you think that it has been frozen, or is old then take it to your paint store and have them do what’s called a “paint match” as normally they can get the color exact. It’s a very good idea to mark the can with a stick on label with the color, where it was purchased and where it was painted. I strongly urge you to not purchase cheap paint or stain. Most paint stores have different qualities of paint, my motto is “I can’t afford cheap, and I can’t afford expensive but the mid grade works great.”
Now before we can start sanding or staining or whatever, we need to take into consideration some things. All window coverings should be removed; this helps to stop lint, dust and dirt from falling on our work while it dries. Dogs, cats or pets should not be allowed to come close to the work area because of hair, dander and dirt that seems to attach to pets. It’s a good idea to shut off heat and air supplies for the same reasons stated above. If you can, try to stop doors from opening and closing in the room where you are working. It’s a good idea to wipe the widow down with warm water before starting to paint or stain. The idea is to eliminate dust, lint, hair, and any other foreign particles from coming into contact with the project until it dries.