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Rotted Window Frame: Repair or Replace?

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Rotted window frames are a prevalent and frustrating issue that many homeowners face, particularly in regions like Kansas City. This problem arises due to the widespread use of wood windows in homes built between the 1980s and the early 2000s. In this article, we will explore the underlying causes of rotted window frame and provide valuable insights into the most effective solutions to tackle this common concern.

Understanding the Prevalence

In Kansas City, a significant portion of homes falls within the age range of wood windows, either wood-clad or exposed wood. Shockingly, around 85 to 90% of these homes suffer from some degree of wood rot or dry rot in their window frames. So, what causes this problem?

The Root Causes of Rotted Window Frame

Several factors contribute to the decay of window frames over time:

Improper Painting

One common reason for rotted window frames is the use of the wrong type of paint. Many homeowners have painted their wood windows with paint that doesn’t allow the wood to breathe. This can lead to moisture buildup and subsequent rot.

Layered Paint

Over the years, these windows may accumulate layers upon layers of paint. Some homeowners might even paint them shut, making it impossible for the wood to remain in good condition. This results in windows that are not only unsightly but also non-functional.

Lack of Proper Preparation

Properly prepping the wood before painting is essential. Neglecting this step can lead to paint not adhering properly, further exposing the wood to moisture.

The Consequences of Neglect

When a window frame starts to rot, it doesn’t stop there. The damage can extend beyond the frame itself.

The Expanding Rot

If left unaddressed, the rot can expand throughout the wall surrounding the window. This means that not only do you have a rotted frame to deal with, but you may also have structural damage to contend with.

The Cost Factor

Delaying the repair of a rotted window frame can lead to more expensive fixes down the road. What may seem like a minor issue initially can become a major headache if not properly dealt with.

Solutions to Rotted Window Frame

Now that we understand the causes and consequences of rotted window frames, let’s explore the most effective solutions to this common problem.

Replacement is Key

In most cases, the only reliable solution for rotted window frames is replacement. While some contractors may suggest wrapping the frame with aluminum coil, this is like trying to cover up the issue with a temporary fix. It doesn’t address the underlying problem, and you’ll probably encounter issues in the future.

The Distinctive Approach

At Distinctive, we recommend replacing 100% of rotted window frames. This approach ensures that the window functions correctly and eliminates the problem rather than masking it temporarily.


Rotted window frames are a widespread issue in areas like Kansas City, where wood windows were once prevalent. The root causes of this problem often stem from improper painting, layered paint, and a lack of proper preparation. The consequences can be far-reaching, leading to expanding rot and increased repair costs.

If you’re facing this issue, don’t hesitate to contact us for expert advice and solutions to ensure the longevity and functionality of your windows.

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President & Co-Founder

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