Painting window frames, sills and exteriors: a complete guide

Try our tips and tricks for painting wood windows to give your home a simple makeover.

Updated 24 June 2019

Window left open after painting window frames

Key steps

  1. Before painting window frames, clean all the dirt and dust using these steps:
  2. Brush surfaces with warm water and gentle soap or washing up liquid.
  3. Scrub windows, making sure to get in all the edges and cracks to remove all dirt.
  4. Rinse with water using a soft, clean cloth to get rid of any excess liquid.
  5. Dry with a towel or leave windows to dry naturally before you start painting.

When renovating or redecorating your home, it can be easy to focus on the ‘big’ things like wall colour, flooring, and furniture. But what about your windows? As one of the most prominent features in your home, a few simple changes here could make all the difference.

Whether it’s painting window frames in a fresh colour, repairing damage to window sills, or simply giving the exterior a spruce-up, we’ve got a few tips that could help.

Leave plenty of time for painting all surfaces and letting it dry thoroughly between coats.

How to prepare for painting wood windows

Before you start painting wooden window frames, it’s important to prepare them properly. This is how you’ll get a professionally bright and smooth finish.

  1. Check for any signs of mould and moss. Remove them with a specialist product like Cif Outdoor Mould Spray.
  2. Remove any handles and use a putty knife to get rid of any flaky bits of paint on the frame.
  3. Fill in cracks between the frame and the glass with a multi-purpose filler.
  4. Sand the frame and clean up any dust on or around it with a vacuum cleaner (with gentle suction and a soft brush head), a clean cloth, or a soft brush.
  5. Apply a coat of water-based primer and leave it to dry before moving onto the painting.

Painting window frames exterior: Step-by-step

When it comes to painting sash windows or regular wooden frames, the same process applies to the outside as the inside.

  1. Sand your primed windows a little to create a smooth surface.
  2. Apply an undercoat evenly to the surface.
  3. Use a quality brush apply at least 2 coats of paint. Sand the first layer gently before applying the second for a smooth finish.
  4. Finish with a topcoat once dried. Choose a weather-proof paint for the exterior.
  5. If you’re painting window sills, exterior paint should be applied carefully with masking tape around the edges to stop the paint dripping on the wall.

As you paint your window frames, be careful to remove paint from glass if it drips so you don’t have to deal with it once it’s dried. If you do find you need help removing dried paint from glass then a paint thinner, like white spirit, applied with a clean cloth should work.

Painting your window frames can make a massive difference to both the inside and outside of your home so why not give it a go? Just be sure to clean up afterwards and be careful not to not get paint anywhere you don’t want it – although our tips on removing paint from clothes will have your back if you do.

If using white spirit or other strong chemicals to remove paint from glass then always follow the directions on the label. Use and store these chemicals safely from children and pets, and only ever use in a well-ventilated area.
Originally published 28 March 2019