If your interested in how to paint window trim including exterior frames made of metal, wood or vinyl then this is the page for you.

For those who need advice regarding the painting of their interior window frames use this painting interior windows page to help you out. Ok! lets get to coating those exterior windows.


Raw wood, metals and vinyl window trim require specific primers to help your paint stick.

No matter what material your window frame and trim are manufactured from they can be coated with paint as long as the proper primer is used prior to applying your top coats.

Trim that has discoloration from water for example will need a blocker applied over the stain so as to keep the stain from bleeding through your top coat.

Talk to your local paint supplier regarding advice, tools and products that you will need for the job at hand.

Keep in mind to that your local paint store sales representative is usually a good resource for learning how to paint window trim.


If you don't want to apply paint to your woodwork, then another coating choice for coloring the wood can be a stain in an exterior solid or semi-transparent finish. Clear coats can (if you want) then be applied over your stain. When clear coating use the best exterior product that you can buy.

Most window frames and trim whether they are made from metal, vinyl, or manufactured woods need to be coated using products recommended specifically for the type of material being primed, stained or painted, ask your local paint dealer for assistance regarding how to paint window trim.

Exterior Alkyd
Alkyds (oil based) do have some advantages, durability is one and the way alkyd flows over a surface with few brush or roller marks is another. If your window frame or trim has been coated using an alkyd paint or stain in the past it might be a good idea to stick with the same kind of product when recoating.

Also, do to environmental conditions oil based products may be the product of choice for your area.

Disadvantages with alkyds are the smell, long drying times and of course clean up is a little more intensive than with a latex coating. Also, oil based products depending on your type of environmental conditions may not last as long as a latex finish.

Exterior Latex
Latex will work well for most exterior window frames or trim, even if the frame or trim has been coated using an alkyd (oil) based product in the past. Just be sure to prep the window frame or trim properly and sand glossy areas if needed then use a high quality exterior latex coating designated to go over dried oil based paints and stains.


Your next "learning how to paint window trim" decisions will be selecting sheen for the project at hand. Semi-gloss is usually more durable than lower sheen paints and cleans easier flatter finishes.

Also, if your painting the exterior doors of your home in the same color as the windows and since a door is usually coated in a semi-gloss then you may as well use the door paint for your windows.

Some people prefer a glossier paint as the higher shine of a gloss coating tends to make the paint's finish harder and takes a little more abuse. With that hardness comes ease of cleaning when the coating for a front door becomes dirty.

Do keep in mind though, when learning how to paint window trim a high-gloss finish tends to show all the imperfections that your doors and jambs may have, (cracks, bumps, dents). Gloss is by far the least appealing sheen for most people to appreciate.

Semi-gloss gives you the shine level you need for both durability and ease of cleaning, yet isn't overly glossy or hard to look at. Semi-gloss can also add contrast to a homes paint scheme. Especially when the paint for a window frame and it's trim are done in a semi-gloss application and the siding of the house has a, satin, eggshell or flat finish.


Another thing to do, as you learn how to paint window trim is select paint colors. Be sure to choose colors that enhance, compliment and accent the siding of your home. The absolute best way to pick colors for the exterior of a home is to drive around neighborhood streets looking at each houses color scheme.

Find colors interest you then use all or a combination of what you like and what they have on your own home.

One other good color selecting idea is to pick up a few of the paint stores exterior color pamphlets. All the good stores carry some sort of color suggestion booklets. The pamphlets will show you a group of three or more colors that work well together to accentuate the trim and focal points of your home.

When buying paint for your window frames and trim and you need to select colors keep in mind that the lighter a color is the longer it will last. With that said, you can use darker colors but you may have to repaint a little sooner than if your color choice where white.

Even so, the uniqueness that the darker colors give and how they compliment other colors usually out ways having to re-coat a little sooner than with lighter colors.

If you need some color selection advice this choosing exterior colors page should help with finding the tones, hues and shades that your looking for.



Below are some tools you may need while you learn how to paint window trim. Ladder size depends of course on the hight of your windows.

  • Paint/Primer
  • Painters Tape
  • Sand paper (100 to 120 grit)
  • Caulking/gun, filler, putty (all paint-able)
  • Scrapers (for glass and flaking paint)
  • 2 & 1/2 inch sash brush
  • Can of paint (1/3rd or less filed with paint)
  • Ladder

Proper prepping is one of the most important techniques to understand when learning how to paint window trim. With a good prep job, almost any painting project will not only last longer but look good

Protect areas that you don't want to see paint on by using drop clothes, painters tape, plastic, cardboard or paper.

Thoroughly scrape and sand old flaking paint, then spot prime areas with have raw wood, metal or vinyl using the proper primer recommended for the surface being coated. Talk to your local paint supplier regarding tools and products to use for the job being done.

Fill cracks and holes with paint-able filler and caulking, use window putty if necessary. Your paint supplier or home improvement center will help you decide what products and tools you will need, and how to apply them, just make sure you completely describe what your painting and any problems you see, that may need repairs.

Use painters tape on the window pane if your not comfortable with a paint brush and don't want to scrape dried paint from the glass when you get paint on it.

Stir your coating thoroughly, (re-stir as needed) then have your brush, and cut can (1/3rd full or less), ready to go.

If you need a ladder, set it up so that your ladder in the best position for you to paint your window with the fewest ladder moves.

  1. To begin teaching yourself how to paint window trim, start from the top, closest to the window glass, use your sash brush and cut can of paint to cut in the window frame. Try not to put excess amounts of coating on the brush to start, you can make the brush wetter (but not to wet).

    You will get a feel for the amount of paint needed as you get more comfortable with what your doing.

  2. Draw your brush across from one top corner working towards the other top corner. Then from top corner down to the bottom corner. Dip the brush in your cut can as needed.

  3. As an example, paint the first inside square closest to the glass then the one next to that and so on, and so on.

  4. What your doing with your brush is painting in sections and working your way out from next to the glass to where the trim runs around the face of the window.

  5. You don’t want paint ridges, runs, marks or sags so remove any as soon as you see them.

  6. With the first coat done and dry, lightly sand your work and apply a second application. By now you should have some what of an idea as to how to paint window trim. Practice makes perfect so the more trim you paint the better you will get.

Be sure to follow all safety rules and or instructions that may be given by the manufacturer when using a ladder.


While painting your exterior windows, keep in mind that as long as you use painters tape and don't slop on the coating being used your paint job should look just fine.

Each coat you apply will make your work look that much better, just make sure you did a good prepping job scraping, sanding, filling cracks, holes and puttying.

Applying a stain or clear coat requires the same process as brushing on a paint. Semi transparent stains may need wiping, be sure to follow label instructions.

Exterior window frames and trim can be sprayed with a paint sprayer, but to do so, sprayer operation, wind conditions, and over spray among other things need to be taken into consideration. If your not familiar with a paint sprayer it might be best to stick with a brush to first learn how to paint window trim.

From how to paint window trim to the exterior projects page

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