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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Windows and Components Category

Improvement Project:

How to paint a window.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Paints (both interior paint and exterior paint)

  • Primer

  • Masking tape

  • Painting tape

  • Lip balm

  • Tarp (for capturing any paint drops and spills)

  • Medium sandpaper (about 120 grit)

  • Window scraper

  • Paintbrushes (a 2-inch and 1-inch)

  • Screwdriver

  • Vacuum (with a vacuum wand extension)

  • Damp cloth/rag



Painting a window is usually what completes the installation of a window, and this can be done with relative ease.  Of course, you also might be repainting a window as part of an effort to renovate your house and, in this instance, an existing window.

Caution: When dealing with chemicals, such as those found in paint, make sure you take precautions; read all product manufacturer instructions.

Painting a window can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. In preparation of painting, with a screwdriver, remove all lockset hardware found on the window to be painted (or use masking tape to cover it up).

  2. Put a tarp underneath wherever you will be painting.

  3. As may be necessary, using your hands, sand the window, including its frame, with sandpaper.

  4. Use a window scraper to scrape off any loose paint and other debris.

  5. Wipe up any generated sanded dust with a damp cloth/rag so as to keep the window's surface clean of debris.

  6. In fact, make sure the window, including around its track system, is free of debris by vacuuming (with a vacuum wand) to remove all dirt that is otherwise hard to reach.

  7. Once the preparatory cleaning in done, use 1) either masking tape or, alternatively, just lip balm to cover the edges of the window glass, itself, and then 2) painting tape to cover parts of the walls surrounding the window frame. 

As to the masking tape option, use such a tape to cover the glass that will be susceptible to being accidentally painted and then use the painting tape to cover the wall areas also susceptible to being accidentally painted.  The masking and painting tapes should form a protective border over the non-paint areas closest to the areas that will be painted.

Alternatively, use lip balm--that may prove to be more time efficient over the use of tape--since lip balm, applied around the edges of the glass (about 1/16" in width) in a border style, acts like a paint repellant in that any paint that accidentally touches it--even if the paint dries--is easily removable with the rubbing of a damp cloth/rag.  Be sure to apply an adequate amount of lip balm in this alternative process to the use of masking tape.  Of course, having used lip balm to make a protective  paint-repellant border around the glass, you will still need to use painting tape to cover any areas of the wall that will be susceptible to the paint when it is applied on the window frame.

  1. You are about to paint, and when you do, keep this in mind:  Use the 1-inch paintbrush to paint small surfaces, like muntins (i.e., the thin wooden sticks/bars that form a multipane window), and the 2-inch or wider paintbrush to paint big surfaces, like the window trim.  Remember that when you are painting, paint form the inside out on any surface, and paint vertical (up-and-down) surfaces first and then horizontal (left-to-right) surfaces second.  Don't be discouraged from painting all around the edges of the area that is to be painted; to make sure you are completely covering the area that is to be painted, paint on the protective-tape/-lip balm border of the glass is to be expected.  (If need be, before applying the actual paint, you may need to apply  primer paint.)

Position the window for painting:  For movable window sashes, open each sash about halfway.  Starting with the upper portion of the top sash, paint as much of it as you can, and, then, reverse the positions of the window sashes so as to be able to paint the lower portion of the top sash.   In the process of painting this sash, specifically apply exterior paint to the top edge of it.

Then, with the bottom sash in the open position, paint this sash using the same painting techniques mentioned in the first paragraph of Provision 8.  In the process of painting this sash, specifically apply exterior paint to the bottom edge of it. 

Make sure that any paint accumulation--usually at the window corners or muntins--is quickly absorbed with a paintbrush.

Allow for the sashes to dry per the paint manufacturer's instructions.

  1. Upon allowing the newly painted window sashes to dry per the time period instructions of the paint manufacturer, move the sashes up and down a few times to ensure that they work without being sticky or experiencing any other difficulty.

  2. Next, paint the window trim, and then paint the window frame sides (positioning the sashes up and down as may be necessary to gain access to painting all of the window frame sides).

  3. Use a damp cloth/rag to wipe up any excess paint in the process.

  4. Allow the paint to dry; as may be applicable, please see the paint manufacturer's instructions.

  5. Remove any masking and painting tapes; remove any lip balm left on the glass.  Use a damp cloth/rag and window scraper in this cleaning process.

  6. Re-install all the lockset hardware on the window.

  7. After the re-installation, make sure the window locks correctly.

That's how to paint a window.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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