Greg Mrakich Painting: Tips to Maintain Your Wood Windows (and Save Money on Window Replacements)

I have received more and more calls lately to re-paint or touch up the interior of wood windows. Windows are subjected to the extremes of weather causing them to expand and contract every day. When you consider the ‘oven effect’ of heavy blinds, curtains, drapes and shutters, it’s a lot for the wood and the paint and/or stain and varnish to endure. In most cases, windows will need attention before the trim (base boards and doors). There are a few things you can do to slow down the deterioration process:

  1. Open your window treatments (blinds, curtains, shutters, drapes) from time to time. The heat from the sun will bake the paint right off the wood, leaving the wood raw and exposed to damage.  If you have blinds or plantation shutters, crack them open just a little bit to let air circulate.
  2. During winter, make sure the weather stripping and window sweeps are working correctly and forming an air tight seal. If cold air is sucked in from the outside, condensation will build up on the interior side of the glass, and the moisture will destroy the paint that is protecting the wood (leaving the wood vulnerable to deterioration).
  3. If your windows are subjected to strong sun every day, check the paint every year for signs of deterioration.

I just finished a project for a client with this problem. I had to re-paint 22 windows, window sills, and mullions on a custom-build home that is less than 10 years old. Some of the wood had slight damage, but with sanding and a little TLC, the windows all responded nicely to the paint and the client is thrilled she didn’t have to replace 22 windows. Since this home was built after 1978, there was no need for me to follow the EPA rule for lead safety. If your home was built before 1978 and you plan on hiring a painting contractor to do the work, make sure the contractor has received lead safety training and the contractor’s firm is an EPA lead-safety certified firm. If you plan on tackling the project yourself, you as the homeowner, are exempt from following the EPA rule, but it is strongly recommended for your and your family’s protection. Click here to download the EPA’s Steps to Lead Safe Repair, Renovation and Paint guide.

Re-painting or re-varnishing your windows about every five years will keep them looking good,  and keep the wood from being damaged. You will also delay the cost of expensive window replacements.

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