How to Replace and Stain Window Sills
Hey friends! I am SO excited to share my most successful home renovation--newly replaced and stained window sills! After many, many Pinterest fails under my belt, it feels so good to have a very successful DIY, especially one that will do so much good for our home!
I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed that we needed to replace them because our dogs chewed on them as puppies and our cats scratched them up before they were declawed...
Also, I know replacing and staining window sills sounds like a nightmare, but it really wasn't that bad! If I can do it, you can. Really. And, I'll walk you through it!
Step one: Assess the damage
This is the part where I show you the damage done to my window sills. I am intentionally only sharing one photo because it's kind of embarrassing. Let's take a look:
Yeah... You can see the scratch marks, and the dirt that I promise is caked on. And, as I stated earlier, the corners of the window sills were chewed beyond repair.
I knew I could either hire someone or attempt to do it myself. Well, after paying over three thousand dollars for new countertops (ah, the expenses in selling your home...), I decided I'd try to redo them myself. I also recently had a boost in confidence after redoing one of our door trims that went very well, so that may have influenced my decision a little bit...
Step two: gather your guns
That's kind of my joke for gathering your supplies, which includes a nail gun! Okay, so this is what you will need to complete this endeavor:
1. Wood to replace the top portion of the window sills. It's best to get wood that is most similar to what you'll be replacing. For mine, I grabbed 1x4 inch pine boards. Make sure you measure all of your window sills ahead of time so you get enough during your first trip to the store!
2. Wood to replace the bottom portion of the window sills. You may not have to replace this piece if it isn't damaged! This is often simply a piece of door trim. Again, it's best to match either what you had previously or choose something that will go well with your top portion.
3. Jig-saw and blades. Dan bought me this jig-saw, and I used Bosch T308B T-shank blades. Whatever blades you choose, make certain they are suitable for wood.
4. Air compressor, nail gun, and brad nails. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow both an air compressor and nail gun from our neighbor, but after using one, I'm soooo tempted to buy some of my own. These are the ones we used. For the brad nails, we decided to go with 18 gauge two inch nails.
5. Miter saw. This is only necessary if you are cutting the bottom portion of the window sill. And honestly, you may be able to get away with using the jig-saw, but by far, the miter is better. This is the miter saw we own and use.
6. Stain. I chose Miniwax in Special Walnut.
7. Black tea! Did this surprise you? This is apart of our stain, actually! I used my favorite Thai tea.
8. White vinegar.
9. Steel wool, super fine, #0000.
10. Soft wax to be used as a top coat. I used Annie Sloan's Soft Wax in Clear.
11. Vise-grip pliers.
12. Angle Square (like this one!).
13. Sandpaper, 320 grit.
14. Painter's tape.
15. Tape measure.
17. Rags, two.
18. Glass jar, pint, two.
20. Rubber gloves.
22. Nails. Just about any standard nails will do.
Step Three: Remove Your Old Window Sills
I'm so sorry guys but I totally forgot to take photos during this part! But, to remove your own window sills, just take a crow bar and hammer and gently tap under your window sill to displace the board from it's "home." Then, use the crow bar to pry it out when it's ready. Also, use your vise-grip pliers to get any nails that are left in the wall!
Step Four: trace
Take your new wood board and place it on the ground, then take your old window sill top piece and place it over, then simply trace the outline! Look:
Now, I ran into a little issue with my boards! I couldn't find boards that weren't as wide as my original window sills...which meant I was going to have some space somewhere. But, it was an easy fix: I simply added that extra "space" to the outer edge of the window sill.
Great! We have a "rough" outline of our window sill! Now, we need to make those lines as straight as possible! So, grab your angle square and make those pencil markings as straight as you can.
See? You're kicking ass already! Now, don't stress over this next part...
Step Five: Make the Cut
I promise you can do this! Really! But, I do suggest you practice first on the old window sills! So, go ahead and grab your jig-saw and read the manual on how to use it if you're not familiar with it, or look it up on youtube. Every power tool is different, friends, and my advice is to be careful at all times.
Once you think you can safely operate this bad boy, go ahead and insert your blades into the jig-saw, and practice some straight cuts on the old window sills. Better to try it out a few times, first.
Now, you're ready to cut along your lines! I will say that if you're still nervous, it's okay to cut a little beyond the line first, because you can clean it up if needed, at least on the first side.
Step Six: Check Your Window Sill
How did it go? I bet it wasn't the worst thing in the world. And now is the fun part, seeing if your cuts did well--because now you take your new window sill and place it on the window. And if it fits, well that's great news first! Second, you'll want to see how straight your cuts were against the wall. Let's see:
It fits! Yay! So now let's get closer and see how straight those cuts were.
Not too bad. Definitely a good job! The left corner could be better, but that could easily be caulked if I wanted. But on whole, very good.
You'll do this process for one of each size window sill. Read on to see what I mean.
Step Seven: Trace Again, friend
Okay, so you made one great window sill. Now, instead of measuring, or holding up your old window sill to your new board and doing the process all over again, simply take your new window sill, and use that as your new template.
That makes more sense, right? Right. Good job.
Thus, you would make a "stencil" for each sized window sill, then do this process. For me, I had only two to make, and the rest I just outlined! But, after each board you cut, always check and make sure it fits!
Step Eight: Finish your cuts
Finish all of your cuts for your top window sill pieces, then, make yourself a margarita. You deserve it.
Step Nine: Time to Stain
Okay, take a break from cutting now, and get ready to stain. If you're terrified, I think that's totally acceptable. I actually was more confident in my abilities than I think I should've been, and it almost bit me in the ass. Luckily, I salvaged all of these pieces.
So, gather all of your staining material listed above, including your two rags, two jars, rubber gloves, sandpaper, and paintbrush.
Then lay all of your beautiful boards out wherever you plan on staining them (I used a large cardboard box in my living room) and just admire them! Haha, just kidding. Go ahead and lightly sand the edges of the boards with your sandpaper, and even the surface of the board if you'd like.
Okay, now this is when I stop and tell you that my staining didn't quite go as planned. And, that's okay! Long story short, I used two coats of stain and one coat of thai tea and white vinegar and steel wool to get the color I did. So, if you want to know the recipe for the diy vinegar/steel wool/thai tea stain, skip ahead.
Anyway, go ahead and gather your primary stain color. For me, I used Miniwax Stain in Special Walnut.
I first began by doing one coat of stain on each window sill, and letting it sit for five minutes on each board. After five minutes, I wiped off the stain. I used a rag to transfer the stain to the wood, and a rag to remove the stain.
So, here are some photos of the first coat:
Yeah, it looks really bad. I chose the same wood that I had previously for the window sills, but I didn't realize that pine does not take stain as well as other wood types, and that the stain transfers unevenly into its wood grains. That's my inexperience showing through, unfortunately. So, I attempted a second coat after all boards had finished their five minutes of staining.
These are some photos of the second coat:
I was so disappointed. So, I began looking up methods of reducing the blotchiness, or just darkening it in general. And that's when I came across natural staining with tea, white vinegar, and steel wool. So, I decided to give it a try!
Other than thai tea, I'm not a tea drinker. At all. So, since thai tea is derived from black tea, I decided to go ahead and use it.
Okay, so if you're going to attempt this stain, get your additional staining materials listed above.
In the first jar, simply brew black tea (not green!), and pour it in there.
In the second second, combine 3/4 cup of white vinegar and a handful of your steel wool. Seal the lid, and puncture the lid with your hammer and standard nails in about three or four areas.
Now, multiple blogs say to leave the vinegar and steel wool for 24 hours, but I only left mine for 12, and it did wonderfully. So, I'll let you decide on what you want to do. Either way, place your jars in an area away from pets and heat.
When you're ready, paint your tea (it does not matter if it's hot or cold) onto your material, and let it dry. After it dries, paint your vinegar/steel wool mixture onto your wood. It will react with the tea and stain the piece. No need to wipe it off, unless the smell is horrendous for you. Mine was very subtle. The longer is stays, the darker it gets. Thus, I left mine until it dried, and the color was significantly better. But, I'm going to save the photos for the end result :)
Step Ten: Make your bottom window sill piece (if necessary)
Okay guys, this part is easy, too. Possibly easier than the stuff you've already done.
First, grab your protractor and measure the angle of the bottom piece to the window sill. You can do this on the piece you've removed. Then with your miter saw, you will cut your new piece at that angle. Check again with your protector to make certain to got it right. I cut mine at 70 degrees.
I made mine one inch shorter than the window sill, and I did this simply by place the board next to it.
Step Eleven: To the window, to the wall
Okay, now you're going to secure all of your work to the wall. Exciting, right?
Start by placing your window sill where you want it. Our window sills had little pieces of wood that were meant to hold the larger boards. Look:
So, we decided to secure the window sills to those little pieces of wood. To do this, we took a pencil and marked where they were:
Okay! So, now it's time to get the air compressor and nail gun.
I have never used one before, so Dan helped me. We kept the PSI at 90-100, and made sure to nail where those little pieces of wood were to secure the window sills.
Step Twelve: Add Your Top Coat
Aside from staining your bottom piece (if you haven't done that yet), all that's left is to add your top coat to protect your window sills! I used Annie Sloan's Soft Wax in Clear, and I took a rag and gently rubbed a layer of it onto the wood.
Admire your work
Congrats, friend! You did it! Look at your work and be so incredibly proud of yourself, because I am! Please share photos of your work, I want to see it! I really hope you enjoyed this adventure! Here are a couple of my final photos: