Painting your home windows is a labor of love requiring the patience of a saint. However, painting the window trim of exterior windows can significantly enhance your home’s curb appeal. Depending on the condition of your windows, painting just the exterior of the frames can take half the time it takes to paint the whole house. Proper preparation is the key to every successful home improvement project. Read on to find out how to prepare and paint your home windows if you choose to do it yourself.

Can You Paint Your Home Windows?

The short answer is yes. You can paint both inside and outside home windows, including wood, aluminum, and vinyl window frames. However, as we stated above, proper preparation is key before diving in.

Preparation Is Key

Carefully consider the condition of the frames before moving forward with the project. Inspect both interior and exterior window frames. In some cases, old, flakey paint might have to be stripped down to the bare wood.

Be wary of using metal paint stripping tools. These can create divots in wooden window frames or cause cracks to widen. Exposed, dry, chipped glass putty might need repairing or replacing. Conduct the finger-tip test.

  • Can you flick off bits of dry paint or putty with your finger?
  • Are bits of it crumble or fall out?

If so, you will probably need to remove and replace it. Although this will add days to the job, don’t revert to just painting over the cracks. Doing so will likely haunt you. The minimum preparation for all frames is light sanding and cleaning.

Use painter’s tape on the glass or line it with paper to keep the glass free from paint and easier to clean up.

Factors For Different Types Of Windows

Painting vinyl windows can sometimes be more difficult as it repels paint. You will need to sand vinyl, safely until the surface feels rough. This will help the paint adhere.

If the new paint color is darker than your current color, you should not need a coat of primer. White windows will be the easiest to cover. If you are trying to cover a dark color, you must use a white primer.

Once sanded, metal frames will need a coat of anti-rust oxidant before applying the paint to the frame.

What Type of Paint Should You Use?

Over the years, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) regulations have changed. VOCs are hazardous toxins found in solvent-based paints that contribute to emissions in the atmosphere. The new legislation sets out strict guidelines. Its guidelines regulate the amount of VOCs allowed in coatings applied to buildings, trims, fittings, and associated structures.

Consequently, solvent-based paints are no longer dominant. Water-based paint (WBP) has surpassed them.

Water-based paint can also be used for the exterior of your home. There are now water-based paint options that cover the full range of coating products, including:

  • Primers and paints, including wall, wood, and metal paints
  • Varnishes
  • Stains

Advantages of Water-based Paint (WBP)

Water-based paint can be used on all types of frames. However, WBPs are especially good for windows with wood trim. Here are some of the advantages of water-based paint:


Water-based paint is much better for the environment than other paints. WBP contains fewer Volatile Organic Compounds. Also, water-based paint does not contain lead, heavy metals, or chrome.


Wooden frames need to breathe and flex. These types of window frames expand and contract according to temperature. Water-based paint will allow frames to expand and contract while keeping them completely sealed. As a result, WBP can prevent damage and thus help window frames last longer.

Faster Drying

Water-based paints generally dry quicker than other types of paint. Therefore, touch-ups can be completed faster because there is less waiting time for the first coat to dry. The faster drying time is also a practical benefit if it looks like it might rain.


The majority of WBPs are odorless or at least emit a negligible odor. This makes them more pleasant to work with. It also means that interior spaces can be used without being bothered by the dreaded smell of paint.


Frames painted with WBPs don’t need to be waxed or further protected after the top coat of paint is on. This is unlike frames painted with chalk-based paint.


Water-based paints are just as durable now as their predecessors, solvent-based paints. Most water-based paints can last ten years or longer on most exterior window painting projects.

Professional Finishes

WBPs are typically self-leveling. This helps even the most amateur painters achieve a uniform, smooth-painted finish that is free of brush marks and excess paint, all of which gives a professional finish.

Easy To Clean

WBP-finished window frames are easy and quick to clean with a damp cloth. In addition, WBPs don’t require the use of chemicals like turpentine, white spirits, or thinners to clean your brushes and trays. To clean up once you’re done, all you will need is warm water.

When To Paint Window Frames

The best time to paint your home’s exterior window frames is when the weather is still warm. Avoid painting in cold and freezing temperatures. This will influence the consistency and application of WBPs due to their water content. Remember, no matter what paint you use, the better and more regularly you stir the paint, the better it will be!

Keep in mind that painting your window frames may void the warranty. Be sure to read any papers or contact the window manufacturer before painting.

Discount Window and Door of Omaha

At Discount Window and Door of Omaha, we are committed to providing the best quality doors and replacement windows. We employ the most skilled installers to ensure the highest standard of quality service. Our Omaha door and window installers are highly trained, certified industry professionals with years of experience, including some second and third-generation employees.

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