Hello, I’m Erica Simbro, the owner and sole employee of Knox Plat Windows. For six years I have been spending all of my days (and some of my nights) restoring and repairing historic windows in Des Moines, Iowa. Through my work I get to see some amazing homes in the Des Moines metro area and work with lovely, preservation minded homeowners and property developers.
Please visit my website to learn more about my work, my services and how I can help you!
If you have additional questions or you would like more information the historic window preservation and maintenance services I provide, please fill out the form
below or call Erica Simbro at 515-229-7793. Please ensure you have spelled your email address correctly. I want to be able to email you back! My goal is to return messages within a business day. I ask for extra time on weekends and holidays.
Every window restoration project is different and each window within a project has quirks of its own. Because of that, I consider each window individually through the course of the overall project. The best place to start is with an onsite visit so I can see the composition and condition of the windows and to discuss expectations and possibilities for restoration. Some windows need nothing more than minor maintenance while others need an in-depth restoration to restore function. Offering a range of services from basic maintenance to full restoration allows me to present the most appropriate and affordable scenario for each project. Most maintenance can occur onsite at the home but more in-depth work is done at my shop. Additionally I am available to provide training, detailed consultation and equipment rental should a homeowner wish to personally do the work themselves.
Basic maintenance can include ensuring window function, glass replacement (using antique wavy glass when possible), sash cord replacement, wood repairs, hardware function improvement, hardware replacement (with salvaged antique and vintage pieces when possible), window glazing, painting, and other basic maintenance functions.
If your windows are in good condition but have painted locks and handles, I offer hardware cleaning to restore those pieces to full function and improve their appearance. Homeowners can remove and deliver the pieces to me for this treatment. See the photo at the bottom of this page for an excellent example of what a Cinderella story hardware cleaning can be!
Partial historic window restoration is a blend of basic maintenance and restoration. This option is great if the interior of your windows is in good condition but the exterior needs to be restored. Window sashes are removed and this work takes place in my shop.
Full historic window restoration is an in-depth process that can take many hours per window and weeks to complete. It is the longest lasting treatment and vastly improves the appearance and condition of the window. Even with the labor and materials involved, it is sometimes still less expensive than window replacement!
When possible I use salvage antique glass to replace broken or missing pieces and salvage antique locks and handles that have been refurbished to replace low quality or missing pieces. I also recycle old wood when doing wood repairs if I am able. I maintain a stock of salvaged windows, hardware and glass for these reasons and use them during my process. These pieces are available for homeowners to use as well in their do-it-yourself endeavors.
Before and after of restored brass and iron window lock
My ultimate goal is to provide a fully functioning window that operates as it was originally intended. With that comes an aesthetic true to the home, a means of ventilation in warmer months, protection from weather in cooler seasons and the safety of a window that provides a means of escape and home security.
Clean, working locks, pulleys and handles are an essential part of a functioning window. I have a stock of hardware that I’ve collected and refurbished for reuse. You can find a number of pieces for sale at my Etsy site: Luna Windows.
restored historic window
window in need of restoration
newly glazed and painted historic window
Once the project is complete, I have some basic tips for maintaining your
windows in the future:
-Don’t paint them shut! We just did all that work- painting them incorrectly will reduce function of the window immediately. Don’t paint your hardware (locks, handles, pulleys) or the ropes for the same reason. Hardware caked with paint doesn’t work as it should and it’s ugly.
-Wood expands and contracts through the seasons so you may notice some friction at certain times of the year. A quick application of beeswax (available at the hardware store) can ease friction and restore function in seconds.
-Open the bottom sash with the handle. Putting pressure in the wrong
place will cause damage to the window.
-Your windows require maintenance. Regularly evaluate paint condition,
glass condition and storm window condition.
A vast amount of information exists online about window restoration,
history, function, energy efficiency and more. Following are a few of
my favorite sources for window information.
before and after image of polished historic brass pulleys
cleaned and polished victorian window locks
cleaned brass window handle
cleaned brass window lock
John Leeke is a respected restoration professional in Maine who has amassed a depth of knowledge over decades of work restoring windows.
A group dedicated to creating national standards for window restoration and debunking the message conveyed by the replacement window industry. The publication produced by the first meeting of this group provides information about methods as well as in-depth, scientific energy efficiency testing of restored wood windows.
I’m a Lead Safe Renovator through the state of Iowa. As most older homes likely have lead hazards to consider, I practice techniques to keep you and your family safe.
Find our more here: http://www.idph.iowa.gov/lpp
If you are not in the Des Moines area, I may be able to provide contact information for a window preservationist near you.
After careers in the corporate and non-profit sectors, I found my way to window restoration through my own home, a Tudor revival in the Drake Neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa. I had no idea when I started restoring my own windows that I would fall in love with the process and make it my full time career. In the course of working on my own project, it became clear to me that there was a local need to for this service so I started Knox Plat Windows in 2014. I’ve combined hands-on experience with workshop training from nationally respected preservationists to prepare to tackle a wide range of window maintenance and restoration projects. To learn more about my range of services, click the link below. Currently I am only able to take work in Des Moines but since I also belong to a network of window preservation professionals around the country, I can likely refer non-Des Moines clients to someone who can help them locally.