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 the curb appeal of your home. 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. This is true for wood window frames, vinyl window frames, and aluminum window frames. However, as we stated above, proper preparation is key before diving in.


Carefully consider the condition of the frames before going ahead with the project. Inspect interior window frames as well as exterior window frames. In some cases, old, flakey paint might have to be stripped down to the bare wood. Be wary of using a metal paint stripping tool as 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. If you can flick off bits of dry paint or putty with your finger, or if bits of it crumble or fall out, it will probably need to be removed and replaced. 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. Once metal frames have been sanded, they will first need a coat of anti-rust oxidant before you paint the frame.

What type of paint should you use?

Over the years there have been changes in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) regulations. VOCs are hazardous toxins found in solvent-based paints that contribute to emissions in the atmosphere. New legislation sets out strict guidelines for the amount of VOCs allowed in coatings applied to buildings, their trims, fittings, and associated structures. Consequently, solvent-based paints are no longer dominant and have been surpassed by water-based paint (WBP). Water-based paint is also a paint that can be used for the exterior of your home. There are now water-based paint options that cover the full range of coating products, from primers and paints to varnishes and stains, wall, wood, and metal paints.

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, compared to other paints, is much better for the environment. 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 paints. Therefore, touch-ups can be completed faster due to less time waiting 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 10 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 finish, free of brush marks and excess paint, all of which give a professional finish.

Easy clean

WBP finished window frames are easy and quick to keep 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, as 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 paint!

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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