This week’s Ask The Craftsman question comes from Jeremy.
“What kind of rope should I use to restring my windows?”
There are a lot of different kinds of rope on the market, but only certain types are appropriate for your old windows.
The best kind of rope for double-hung windows is cotton braided rope. Hemp rope isn’t appropriate. Full synthetic ropes tend to stretch too much and I’ve also found that they slide in the pulley tracks in awkward ways.
For the majority of windows a #8 (1/4″) cotton rope will work best. My favorite is Samson Spot Cord which has a 150 lbs. working strength which works great for nearly every residential window.
Anything larger than a #8 rope will bind in a lot of pulleys and is likely to have trouble fitting in the rope mortise on the side of the sash. Stick with the #8.
The Samson cord has a nylon core which lengthens the life of the rope and because of the cotton outer it doesn’t stretch like full synthetics.
A lot of folks will tell you you should swap out the rope for chain, but unless you prefer the look of chain, there is rarely a time when you need to use it.
Quality sash rope should last about 100 years and when you compare the price of rope to that of chain, rope tends to be a better value for a century worth of smooth operation.
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I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.