Catherine Brooks, owner of Eco-Strip, loves her home town, Chestertown, MD founded in 1706. She often walks its historic streets looking up at the unique architectural features of the old buildings. She’d been following the 4 ½ year restoration of the 18th century Kent Cultural Alliance’s (KCA) Raimond Center. The complex design of the third floor dormers and their wood windows caught her interest. These Victorian features were added in the 19th century to enhance the original architecture but were in bad shape compared to the rest of the building.
Even through Catherine saw that the window wood and the glazing holding the glass in place were in poor condition, she knew they could be salvaged. When she talked to the Executive Director, she learned that all the other windows in the old building had been deemed “in too bad shape to be restored” and were replaced. She knew that restoring not replacing the windows would be both cheaper and more sustainable than installing modern plastic or vinyl windows. Research has proven that replacement windows are only guaranteed to have a 15-25 year life and then must be replaced again; properly-restored and weatherized wood windows can last for more than 100 years.
She saw that her company’s Speedheater Infrared Paint Remover could do the challenging window restoration job. Its infrared paint removal method is more eco-friendly and safer than traditional methods and comes from its innovative infrared heating process.The infrared rays work by quickly heating the wood underneath the coating and then heating the paint above it. The paint separates from the wood at a much lower temperature than is needed for a heat gun to work. This fast softening of the paint allows homeowners and professionals to efficiently and cleanly scrape off even toxic lead paint in one or two strokes. Traditional paint removal tools usually require chipping or sanding off dry paint, releasing toxic dust and fumes, or leaving messy, contaminated chemicals for time-consuming clean up. The lower temperature required by infrared to heat the paint also reduces the risk of a delayed and hidden fire developing below the visible surface of old, dry wood.
Brooks approached the general contractor on the KCA renovation project, Peter Battcock of Osprey Custom Carpentry and proposed restoring the authentic 19th-century windows. Keeping and restoring as many historic details in the building as possible was a high priority for the full KCA restoration. Peter agreed to Catherine’s proposition to remove and restore the windows. The Eco-Strip team got to work.
The KCA window restoration ended up being more difficult than initially anticipated due to the over 110 small panes of glass in the windows. Catherine reached out to her national network of professional window restoration companies and contracted with Iconic Windows in Chadds Ford, PA to do the project. The high quality results of both Iconic Windows’ work and Eco-Strip‘s sponsorship demonstrate both companies’ commitment to saving old windows.
Historic restoration isn’t just something that Eco-Strip enjoys doing – it’s a core value of their brand. While the Eco-Strip team values retaining the aesthetic charm of centuries past, they also value safety and sustainability. They volunteer their time to educate the general public – both inside and out of the restoration community – on how to conduct lead safe work practices when stripping toxic lead paint. In addition to their public education time, the Eco-Strip team also donates their products and sponsorships to national historic restoration associations including the Window Preservation Standards Collaborative, Preservation Trades Network, and the Window Preservation Alliance. Catherine served on the board of LeadSafe America.
Catherine Brooks, Eco-Strip, with installed, restored windows
Fully re-installed, restored windows
The Kent Cultural Alliance is pleased with the stunning results obtained by the Eco-Strip project. Make sure to take in the breathtaking details by looking up the next time you walk or drive by 101 Spring Avenue in Chestertown, MD.