DIY Solutions for Windows that are Painted Shut

December 26, 2009

It's an age old problem, especially in older homes that have multiple layers of paint on the trim. Windows can become painted shut. Too much struggling with the window can mean broken glass. There are different levels of this do it yourself window repair. Start with level one and work your way up if it doesn't fix the problem.

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1. Use a butter knife. Not your grandmother's sterling silver antique butter knife, but a plain-Jane one that can handle the task. Carefully work the dull end into the corners and edges. Try to break through the layers of paint without breaking through the wood on the trim or sill or damaging the window frame.

Patience is a virtue with this task. Jamming and jiggling is not in the best interest of the window nor the antique butter knife you used because it's the only one you could find.

2. If level one doesn't work, move on to this solution. There's a specialty tool available at hardware stores that helps open windows that are painted shut. It's not the preferred method because it has serrated edges that can damage the sill and window frame. This level takes real patience and a soft touch. Again, concentrate on the corners and edges. Do the bottom edge first then work on the sides. If it's giving from the loosened paint, but still not sliding, try a squirt of WD-40 to help ease the way.

3. A pry bar is your weapon of last resort, along with a wood block. Try and pry the sash open working from outside the window. Working on sticky windows, whether they're paint or dirt related, is best done in cool dry weather, particularly with wood windows. Heat and moisture tends to cause wood to swell slightly, which makes the task at hand even more difficult.

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