Repainting wood trim around windows is no small task, but fortunately it’s one that you can easily do yourself, especially if you have a single-story home or a great ladder. Peeling, cracking paint is an unsightly feature and leaves your windows prone to damage and reduces your overall curb appeal. But, when it’s properly done, you can go many years without having to repeat the process.

Step 1

Give Windows a Deep Cleaning

Pressure wash or use a spray bottle of multi-surface cleaner, a rag and old-fashioned elbow grease to clean dirt from the surface of the window and the surrounding trim. Removing built-up dirt helps you to see the condition of the window trim before you begin scraping paint. Also, the new paint will adhere better on a clean surface.

Step 2

Scrape Loose Paint, Caulk and Glazing

Removing peeling paint is critical to ensuring that the new coat of paint goes on well. Work diligently with a paint scraper or putty knife to scrape free all the loose paint. If you have an older home, there’s a chance of lead paint being on the windows, test for it. Take extra precautions by laying a tarp on the ground beneath the window to capture paint chips and avoid toxins leaching into the ground. Also, wear a respirator to avoid inhaling dust. If you have concerns about removing lead paint, consult with a professional.

While you are scraping the loose paint, take note of the condition of the window glazing and caulking. If it is in poor condition, it will easily break free. In spots where glazing is missing, the seal around the glass pane will likely be loose. Likewise, if caulking appears shriveled or cracked, wind and water can seep through and cause damage to the window’s interior.

Step 3

Sand Painted Surfaces

Sand the scraped window surface. You want to create a very smooth transition between the remaining paint on the window trim and the areas that were scraped down to bare wood. Sanding the surface of the existing paint will also help the new primer and paint adhere better. Dust the windows when you are done sanding.

Step 4

Repair Damaged Caulking and Glazing

Most caulk is formulated to completely dry within a few hours, but re-glazing windows requires a longer dry time and extends the project timeline from a few days, to a few weeks.

Step 5

Prime Windows

Tape off the glass before priming and painting, but if you’re using a latex-based paint and you have a steady hand, you can probably do without the tape. Just make sure to have a damp rag on hand to wipe off primer that accidently lands on the glass. Or you can wait until the job is done then scrape it off using a razor blade. Do your best to be neat when working along the edges of the glass. Apply a coat of primer to the entire surface of the window trim. Allow it to completely dry.

Step 6

Paint Windows

Follow up with a coat of exterior paint. If you’re changing the paint color of your trim in the process, you may find that it will require an extra coat of paint to achieve adequate coverage.

Step 7

Remove Excess Paint

There will be paint left behind on the surface of the glass (expect it, no matter how hard you try to be neat). The easiest way to remove this paint is by wielding a sharp razor blade. Use the tip of the blade to slice through the paint along the edge of the trim, and then hold it at an angle and use the wide edge of the blade to peel it off the glass from beneath. It will flake away and can be wiped clean.

Step 8

Clean Windows One Last Time

Run a rag dampened by multi-surface cleaner over the windows one last time to remove fingerprints and dirt. Your freshly painted windows should hold up well for many, many years.