Historic Trades

Workers skilled in rehabilitating older buildings are in short supply across the nation. The labor shortage is especially acute in the specialized trades that are often needed for historic preservation projects, such as window restoration, plaster repair, and finish carpentry.

In addition, the average age of workers skilled in the preservation trades is rising. As these specialists approach retirement, it will be critical to find ways to share their expertise and build a new cadre of preservation trades workers.

A more robust and accessible system is needed to help people enter the preservation trades, find employers who need their skills, and receive ongoing training to advance their careers and earning potential. Explore this page to find more resources from the National Trust and our partners and to connect the dots of this important work across the nation.

Preservation Priorities Task Force: Preservation Trades and Workforce Development

Through the Preservation Priorities Task Force, a group of preservation advocates from across the country developed a series of publications on key issues facing the preservation movement, including Preservation Trades and Workforce Development.

Connect with Preservation Trades Organizations

A number of organizations across the country work in Preservation Trades. Learn more about each group's unique focus:

Advocacy and Policy:

Trades Leadership:

Learning Events:

Find a Trades Professional:

Training Opportunities:

Historic Window Maintenance

Windows are the most visible, yet most commonly underappreciated, components of older and historic homes and buildings. In addition to adding beauty and character, original windows serve a great purpose—they connect the outside of the building to the inside and, as an integral part of the architecture, offer invaluable clues to a building's history. These resources help preservation trades professional make informed decisions about repair and replacement.

  • Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement. This report offers insight for homeowners weighing the financial and energy tradeoffs between replacing or repairing older, less efficient windows. Download "Saving Windows, Saving Money" (PDF).
  • Replacement Windows for Historic Buildings: Managing Compromise When Perfection Is Out of Reach. Saving and repairing an historic window is the obvious starting point to preserving the character and integrity of an historic building, but it may not always be reasonable, and increasingly often the historic windows are long gone. This skill-building webinar looks at how to approach replacement when it is needed. Watch "Replacement Windows for Historic Buildings" on YouTube.
  • Historic Wood Windows: A Tip Sheet from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s HOPE Crew. Simple repairs and routine maintenance coupled with storm windows make for energy efficiency that in most cases matches, if not exceeds, the efficiency of replacement windows. Learn more about how preserving wood windows can promote sustainable development. Download the Historic Wood Windows Tip Sheet (PDF).

This HOPE Crew Learning Lab about historic window maintenance features Ariana Makau of Nzilani Glass Conservation, who walks viewers through safety tips, necessary tools, removing old hardware and backbed, and glazing.

#SavingPlaces: HOPE Crew: Hands-On Preservation Experience

Since 2014, HOPE Crew (which stands for Hands-On Preservation Experience) has contributed to workforce development, research into historic trades, and digital tools that document and preserve historic places.

Join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

Learn More