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How to Restore a Vinyl Window

D.K. Bernhard

Restoring vinyl windows that are 20 years old is neither a time-consuming nor an expensive process. Nicks or scratches in the vinyl and scratches in the glass can be repaired if you know the right tools to use. Even windows that are faded or have a chalky residue on them can be rejuvenated with just a little work. With time, effort and perhaps some new hardware, your windows can be as good as new.

Restoring old vinyl windows is easy and quick.
  1. Clean your vinyl with a detergent and water solution and a lint-free cloth. If you have more stubborn residue, fading or chalky vinyl, or hard-water stains, more supplies are needed. Fill two buckets with 3 to 5 gallons of the hottest water your gloved hands can stand. In one bucket, add 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of ammonia and 1 tablespoon of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol. The alcohol helps the solution dry faster and brings out the color of the vinyl. Rub down the windows with the cleaning solution, then rinse with the clean water. Wipe off the excess water with a lint-free cloth.

  2. Use a 3-to-1 solution of water to TSP (trisodium phosphate) to clean off mold and mildew. TSP is recommended because it will not damage any exposed wood.

  3. Use a vinyl patching kit from any hardware store for scratches or dings in the vinyl. Speak to your window manufacturer for matching touch-up paint.

  4. Buff out minor scratches in your glass with a compound called Cerium Oxide. Do not use this product if you have an extra coating on the exterior of your windows.

  5. Use a product, such as Strip-EZ, to remove the polyurethane clear coat from your brass hardware. Polish the hardware with a brass cleaner and refinish it with a clear coat product of your choice. Refer to the window manufacturer's care and maintenance guidelines in case the hardware is a base metal that is coated to look like brass.