How to prep wooden windows for painting

When window frames are prepped correctly, your new coat of paint will withstand weather and natural wear for many years.

Invest in the following: 

  • putty knife/scraper
  • caulking gun
  • sandpaper – Medium to Fine
  • old toothbrush
  • ladder
  • exterior gap sealant
  • window glazing putty (linseed oil putty)
  • multi-purpose cleaner

Exterior wooden window frames require a significant amount of maintenance. Everyday weather conditions contribute to wear and tear that most commonly leads to peeling paint.


Peeling paint is one of the most obvious reasons to start maintenance. Paint that flakes away leaves your windows more susceptible to weather damage.

The glazing around the window panes may need to be replaced too. It’s not uncommon for old glazing to loosen and chip away similar to old paint, especially on the tops and bottoms of each pane where rain water may run down and soak behind old glazing. Lack of glazing will result in loose glass panes and contribute to damaged windows.

Start by using a multi-use paint scraper to remove flaking paint from the wood frames and loose glazing from the panes. Also remove cracked or peeling gap sealant (it will often peel free from its surface).

Depending on the state of window condition you will need medium to fine sandpaper to, sand smooth the transitions between old paint and raw wood, and to prep the existing paint finish.

A well-sanded surface will ensure a smooth finish with the new primer and paint.

Check all of the hinges and the windowsill. If they are they dirty make sure they are cleaned thoroughly before you start painting. Use a dry cloth to dust the frames, panes and windowsill and then use a diluted soap concentrate and a small rag to clean all surfaces. Use an old toothbrush dipped in the soap to gently scrub around all hinges and along the edges of the glass panes in tight crevices.

Run a bead of exterior gap sealants anywhere that you removed it during initial clean-up, and pay special attention to the condition of the caulk along the inside edge of the windowsill. It’s important to keep that ledge sealed to prevent rain water from seeping in and rotting the window frame.

If window glazing repair is necessary, allow the wood between glass panes to dry overnight. Mix the glazing using a knife and apply small amounts to the edge of the pane at an angle. Compressing the glaze against the frame and glass minimizes the chance of water seeping behind the glazing and rotting the wood, also applying the glaze at an angle will allow water to run-off. Work slowly to achieve a smooth finish. The glaze will need to cure for a week on average.

Once this is done, all you need to do is primer and paint your windows.

Happy Painting!

(Featured image courtesy



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