Cost of Painting Window Frames
A guide to painting window frames, including the costs that you may encounter and what the job entails.
To professionally paint window frames and leave a perfect finish, we’ll look at the methods used and the potential pitfalls of doing this yourself, and how to assess whether the frames need replacing rather than repainting.
How much does painting window frames cost?
If you hire a painter to paint your window frames, they’ll charge between £25 to £40 an hour, depending on the location of the job and their experience. For a whole house, the entire job should cost £400 to £1,500, but this is based on the house size, the number of windows painted, and house type. The price and timescales will also depend on the amount of prep and coats of paint needed.
What painting window frames entails
Painting window frames will usually involve checking the initial condition of the wooden frame and assessing whether they're suitable to paint. Then removing the old paint as appropriate, making good any problems with the wood, applying a primer, and finally applying several topcoats to ensure that they continue to repel rain and snow.
Preparation - Ideally, you should strip the window back to its base material before repainting. This is best achieved by using a light paint remover – nothing too aggressive – or a heat gun and a scraper. You should wear gloves in both cases to protect your hands from the stripped paint and/or hot gun. Once the paint is removed, check for any blemishes that may need filling and sanding flat before you prepare the surface for repainting. If, however, you want to paint over window frames that have already been painted without stripping, you need to roughen the surface with some fine sandpaper or a wire brush. This should be enough to make sure proper adhesion of the fresh coat. It’s a good idea to clean everything and make it greases-free, including difficult-to-reach places. The best way to do this is to use a mix of water, cleaner and ammonia. Ensure you avoid scratching the glass with any abrasive tools, as it can’t be repaired later.
Painting - Once you have prepared the surface, and they are dry and free from flake paint, you can start to apply the primer (if you are using it) and the subsequent topcoats. If you are painting outdoor windows and doors, you should overlap the glass by a few millimetres. This will prevent the entry of moisture and stop windows rotting from the inside out. To achieve this, you will need to apply a layer of masking tape on the glass, two millimetres above the frame so that the paint encompasses the top of the frame and slightly onto the glass. When the paint is dry, you can gently remove the tape, ensuring that the dry paint doesn’t start to come away from the glass as you do so.
What paint should I use?
There are many different kinds of paints and varnishes are available for indoor and outdoor use on windows and window frames. The main types are:
- Water-based acrylic paint.
- Paint that’s thinned out with turpentine substitute (alkyd).
- High solid paint, which gives better coverage, has a higher concentration of resin and a smaller level of volatile organic compounds (VOC). By using a high-solids paint, you get a quality finish and save money due to the better coverage performance.
- Polyurethane paint (PU): This is a two-component paint that’s used with acrylic or alkyd paint. This kind of paint is tougher and more hard-wearing and will withstand significant bashes and bumps.
- Varnish or any other clear coating that seals the wood and defends it against damp and UV radiation. Varnish gives an even finish that’s easy to clean. Varnish generally does not add colour, and it is usual to have the wood below showing through.
Regardless of what you have on your window frame at present, you will need to strip them back to the base wood, and that means that you can finish them with any of the above paints and varnishes.
Other jobs to tackle
If you are removing all of the outer coatings of your windows, it is an ideal time to assess the general condition of the wood and carry out any repairs as necessary. While you are dealing with the paintwork, you could also look at the general condition of the hinges and fixings, and make sure that they all work correctly. If you don’t have locking window catches, this is a perfect time to fit those too. If you have sash windows, this is an ideal time to check the condition of sliding and rope parts.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding painting window frames.
Q How long will it take to paint a frame?
You can usually strip and repair a whole window frame in two hours. However, repainting may take several hours as you need to allow for each coat to dry before applying the next layer, so the actual time depends upon how long it takes the primer and subsequent topcoats to fully harden. You will be able to repaint several windows concurrently to cut down on time.
Q Can I paint uPVC?
Absolutely! As long as it is not brand new as it is much harder for the paint to bind to new uPVC due to the manufacturing process. Therefore, it is vital to pick the correct paint. You will need a paint that will bond with the substrate rather than try to stick to it. While more rigid than PVC, uPVC will have thermal movement (expanding and contracting a little in the heat). Even in our UK climate, the area between glass and wall at the front of a shop or office block is exposed to very high temperatures. Therefore, you will need paint that offers UV protection.
Q I have a window with wood rot; can I still paint them?
You need to strip them and inspect them to determine whether the window needs to be changed, or whether it’s viable to carry out repairs or a partial replacement. Most of the time, it’s possible to repair using wood repair products, and this is cheaper than replacing, but also the stability of your window will increase considerably.
Q How long will the paint last before I need to repaint?
Water-based, micro-porous paints have a long lifespan, and contrasting to oil-based paint; they won't crack or flake to let moisture come into contact with the wood. The actual lifespan of the factory-applied coating depends on many aspects, including exposure to salt spray, excessive dirt or pollution, harsher conditions, and contact to the sun or prevailing weather. Every circumstance is different, but solid colours should last for between 5 to 8 years before needing a repaint while wood-stains should last for 3 to 5 years.
Q Can I paint the windows of my listed house?
Painting of woodwork does not usually need consent unless you live in a listed building, in which case you should talk to your local Council. However, you should check to make sure that there is not an Article 4 Direction covering painting for your property.