How to Refinish Wood Window Frames

Lead Image
  • 3-5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 60-100
What You'll Need
Putty knife
Paint stripper
Trim brush
Paint or stain
Painter's tape

Wood window frames need to be properly finished in order to prevent wood rot, moisture problems, and other potential issues. Here are some basic steps to follow when deciding to give the wood window frames a new finish.

Step 1 - Determine if a Refinish is Necessary

A refinish is necessary when parts of the paint or the stain are already peeling off. A new finish will prevent water from entering the wood and causing it to rot. A refinish is also necessary when the home is being repainted a new color. This should be done in order to make the color of the wood window frames match the new colors of the home.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Finish

To remove the old finish, scrape off the peeling paint or stain it using a putty knife. When the putty knife can no longer remove any paint or stain, apply a coat of paint stripper. Allow the paint stripper to sit on the wooden frames for a few minutes (or in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions). After the recommended waiting time or after the paint stripper has penetrated the finish effectively, scrape off as much of the paint or stain using the putty knife. Allow the paint stripper to evaporate before using sandpaper to remove what’s left of the finish.

WARNING: Before putting on the paint stripper, read the container's instructions to see if it emits any fumes. Check that your work area is well-ventilated beforehand an put on a facemask and safety goggles to be extra safe. If the paint stripper easily stains clothes or skin, put on work gloves and long-sleeved work clothes before you start.

Step 3 - Clean and Prep the Wooden Frames

Dampen a clean rag and use it to wipe off the dust and debris on the frames. Allow the moisture to evaporate. While waiting for the frames to dry, prepare the paint or the refinishing material. Place newspapers on the floor to avoid stains from splatters. Tape off the surrounding areas of the window frames as well to avoid future cleanups.

Step 4 - Paint or Stain

Place paint primer on a container and dip the paintbrush into the container. Cut a thin layer of primer onto the surfaces of the wooden frames uniformly. Allow the primer to dry. After the primer dries, sand the frames a bit with a fine grit sandpaper to provide a rougher surface the next coat will adhere to. Cut multiple thin coats of paint onto the surfaces, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next coat. When another coat is to be to be applied, always make sure to sand the dried paint a bit, but never sand the last coat.

If stain is preferred, follow the basic preparatory procedures before cutting the stain. Cut the stain thinly and allow it to be as uniform as possible to avoid dark areas. When the first coat dries, sand it a bit and cut the next coat uniformly as well. Use a trim brush to stain smaller areas accurately. Allow the stain to dry and remove the painter’s tape afterward. Remove the newspapers as well and clean up the mess.