Clera Windows + Doors Blog

Tips For Painting Exterior Window Frames

Attractive windows can dramatically improve your home’s curb appeal. But even with the best design and windows installation, exposure to the elements will cause your windows to wear down and lose their beauty over time. Adding a fresh coat of paint can improve the ability of your windows to withstand abuse from repeated use and the elements, restore their beauty, and make them last longer.

However, painting exterior window frames is a rather time-consuming project. Despite the small surface area that needs to be painted, it can take you about 50 percent of the time you would need to paint your entire house, depending on the type of windows you have and their condition.

Proper planning and preparation, choosing the right tools and paints, and using the right application techniques can give you better-looking and longer-lasting results. Here are some tips to help you with the process:

  1. Assess the condition of your window frames
    • Inspect the condition of glazing around the windowpanes to determine whether they need replacing.
    • Check the window sill and hinges for dirt and cobwebs and clean them.
    • Use an inexpensive DIY testing kit to check for the presence of lead in the existing paint.
    • If you suspect that there is lead, use a chemical stripper to remove the paint. Don’t use heat guns or sandpaper as they can spread lead particles and fumes. Follow all safety precautions.
  2. Use quality tools and supplies for the job
  3. The typical tools used when painting exterior window frames include:

    • Brush/Cloth – Used to wipe off excess paint
    • Masking tape – Use it to mask around the window to protect the glass from paint
    • Wood filler – Use it to fill any cracks/holes in the frame
    • Putty knife – For applying any filler
    • Drop sheets – To reduce cleanup workload
    • Painter’s gloves – To save on cleaning after the job
    • Fine sandpaper – Sanding the surface improves paint adhesion
    • Pure bristle paintbrush – Use a 2 or 2.5-inch-wide nylon or polyester brush to apply the paint
  4. Choose a good day to paint
  5. It is recommended that you work out of direct sunlight, preferably in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Moderate humidity is also best.
    • Avoid painting too late in the day to reduce the risk of dew settling and marking the paint.
  6. Prepare the surface
  7. Use the putty knife to remove flaking paint from the frame, any loose glazing from the panes, and any peeling caulk. Also

    • Use sandpaper to smooth transitions between old paint and raw surfaces.
    • Sandpaper also helps to prep the existing paint finish to improve adhesion for the new primer and paint.
    • Dust the trim, panes, and window sill using a dry cloth, and then clean the windows and window sill using a rag and soap solution.
    • Use a toothbrush dipped in the solution to scrub hinges and the edges of the panes in the crevices.
    • Caulk exposed crevices and repair window glazing.
  8. Use proper painting technique
  9. It is important to plan your approach when painting your window frames.

    • Pour the paint in a bucket and stir it thoroughly before dipping the brush.
    • Avoid dipping the brush in the paint tin directly as you risk contaminating the paint, especially if some is left over after completing the paint job.
    • Avoid drips by tapping off excess paint against the bucket’s interior wall, but keep reloading to maintain a wet edge.
    • Start by painting the top edge – both the inside face of the frame and window – as you move down to the hinged side of the window jamb. Allow it to dry before moving on to the other side and the lower part inside the frame.
    • Proceed to the edges of the window. Use a clean rag to wipe any excess paint from the interior of the window.
    • After painting the window underside, close it and proceed to the window sash. Start at the top and work around the window sash, painting the inside edge of the frame and hinges as well.
    • Next paint the top rail of the sash. Start with the puttied edge and paint onto the glass by 1mm.
    • Paint the lower rail of the sash before proceeding to the leading edge and hinged side of the window.
    • Finish by painting the inside face of the window. This order is necessary to provide a handhold support for the painter.
  10. Apply at least two coats of paint
  11. When the frame surface is ready for painting, apply the undercoat (or first coat of primer) to the entire frame and sill. Allow it to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat of paint. This will ensure optimal quality in colour and finish.

    • Allow 3–4 hours to dry before applying the second coat.
    • When applying the final coat of paint, make sure that the brush strokes go in only one direction to get a cleaner finish.

Additional tips

  • Use a primer before painting if the paint has been completely stripped down, or when switching to a darker colour.
  • If the first tin of paint runs out before completing the job, ensure that the batch numbers on the second tin match those on the first one.
  • Paint in the same direction to create natural overlap.
  • The hinges are typically painted in the same colour as the window frame.
  • If you want to use a contrast colour for the frame and sill, wait until the fresh paint on the frame and inside edges has dried and the window can be closed completely.
  • The window must be left slightly ajar for 24 hours before it can be fully closed.

When you are done painting your window frames, remove excess paint on the surface of the glass using a sharp razor blade, and then clean the windows with a dampened rag to remove dirt and fingerprints.

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