disclosure: This post is sponsored by FrogTape.

Ever have questions on how to paint a window? Here are step-by-step instructions with some simple tips and shortcuts to take the guesswork out of painting windows.

how to paint a window

This is the kind of post I always mean to write.

I cannot even count the number of windows I have painted in my life. When you live in houses that have existed before electricity and indoor plumbing, painting windows is a full-time occupation.


If the whole being a blogger thing didn’t really work out, I’d hang out a shingle and go into the window painting business.

And along the way, I’ve learned some simple tips and shortcuts to help speed up the entire window painting process that I always mean to write about, but I never do.

I’ve showed you how to paint a striped on your front porch steps and a hexagon wall and a cube wall and a shutter wall and how to pick paint colors for an entire house and the one thing you need to do before you paint anything and a zillon other painting projects.

But I’ve never showed you how to paint a window.

Until today.

Here’s how to paint a window (with tons of tips and advice and a few random thoughts thrown in).

how to paint a window with a chair and pillow

How to paint a window

Q: What supplies do I need to paint a window?

Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need to get started.

Most of these you probably already have at your house or you can find them at your local home improvement store.

  • drop cloth (I like the canvas kind)
  • angled brush to get into window corners
  • small roller cover and handle (I like foam rollers best for the smoothest finish)
  • FrogTape (best painter’s tape for the cleanest lines)
  • painting tray
  • household wipes (for all the mistakes)
  • stiff card to score the tape
  • small step stool

Q: How do I fill in holes or cracks on a window?

You want to make sure to fill in holes or cracks BEFORE you start painting.

We used paintable wood putty to fill in any holes before we painted.

Our windows are older and sometimes have long cracks along the side pieces. For those, we used paintable caulk and caulked the long cracks before we started painting. Make sure to check the label for dry times before you start painting.

Q: What kind of paint do you use on windows?

I like to use satin latex white paint when I’m painting older windows in my home.

For newer windows, semi-gloss is perfect and adds the right amount of shine, but the challenge with older windows is that they have lived a LOT of life and have so many challenges with an uneven finish. Satin helps hide the imperfections and gives you a smooth finish on the window and sill.

I like latex enamel paint when painting windows for its durability and coverage. I learned a long time ago to NOT SKIMP on trim paint. Truly, y’all. There is such a difference in the quality of the paint. Sherwin Williams makes an amazing trim paint that dries in under an hour and comes in semi-gloss and satin. I LOVE the extra coverage it has and it has an amazing consistency that helps to hide the uneven surfaces on my windows.

how to paint a window painters tape

Q: how do you use painter’s tape on a window?

  1. You want to start by wiping down the windows. I know this is totally Captain Obvious, but it’s something that so many people overlook. Do you have any idea of the gunk that is hiding in those window crevices? I take a bowl of water with a little Dove dishwashing soap and a flour sack and scrub all the gunk out of the window.
  2. Apply the first piece of painter’s tape. Here’s my best tip for the window corners. Make the first piece of FrogTape that you apply to the window longer. That way you ensure complete coverage on the corners. Then, tear or cut away a shorter piece that fits on top of the longer piece of tape.
  3. You can see in this image that the tape ends up overlapping the other pieces and helps make sure when you paint in the corners you have amazing coverage.
  4. If your walls are a different color, you’ll also want to tape around the outside of the window. Here, our walls and trim are the same color and sheen, so we didn’t need to tape around the outside of the window.
  5. Quick tip: When using painter’s tape, like FrogTape, you want to make sure that you keep the tape in the original container. This helps ensure the tape has maximum stickiness and doesn’t dry out.

how to paint a window scoring the window

Q: What does it mean to “score” the edges of the tape?

This is my BEST tip.

You always want to “score” your tape before you paint.

This means to take a stiff card (like a library card or a reward card) and press the edges of the tape down.

Score the edges of the tape all the way around the window.

Q: how do you paint a window frame?

This is one of the main questions I get asked. Where do you start? On the outside or the inside?

I like to start on the inside.

Mainly because I have a tendency to brush the outside of the frame when I’m painting and then I get paint on myself and my sleeve and the window panes.

Using your angled brush (this kind of brush makes it so much easier to paint in the corners of the window) paint the edges of the window frame, then paint the outside of the window. If you have a large molding around your window, you might want to paint that with a small foam roller brush for a smoother finish without brush strokes.

Q: How do you paint a window sill?

I typically paint the window sill last (it’s my favorite part of the window).

You can use your angled brush, or you can also use a small foam roller for a smoother finish without brush strokes.

Let the paint dry and then check to see if a second coat is needed on your windows.

Q: how do you pull off the painter’s tape

How you pull off the painter’s tape can make SUCH a difference.

When removing the tape from the windows, you always want to pull the tape back towards you—as if you were pulling it back onto itself.

Pull the tape off in one direction in a slow and steady manner. This prevents any extra paint from bleeding through the tape and helps give you a clean, crisp edge.

That’s it.

Here are my finished windows. I hope the tips and ideas that I share make your entire window painting process a little easier.

And in super exciting news? You may have noticed a sneak peek of a few changes in the master bedroom.

We changed it up and transformed the room with a new paint color on the painted plywood subfloor and neutral accessories. I needed everything a little calmer in this room and I can’t WAIT to show you the finished room next week.

Until then, make sure and let me know if you have any window painting questions that I didn’t answer.

My 100-year-old windows want to be extra helpful today. 🙂

PS Peggy just asked about painting casement windows and I found this helpful post.

disclosure: This post was sponsored by FrogTape.

All opinons are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for additional information.

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  1. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    That is a gorgeous window! Every window in my house is white with white curtains. Love it! Love the light it reflects. Thrilled to have these window-painting tips, too! Thanks so much!

  2. Image for Lori Lori

    It always seems that when I go to peel off my frog tape or blue tape that my paint peels off as well in some areas. They say to peel it off when the paint is still wet but if your doing 2 coats that first coat has to dry before the 2nd coat of paint, right? So that doesn't always work either. I just end up touching up edges where the tape has pulled off my paint. What am I doing wrong here? I have gotten to where I take a sharp blade and score the edges prior to pulling it off. Sometimes that works.

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Lori, I do agree!  It's so much easier when you only have one coat!  I do score the edges before I pull the tape. Sometimes I start pulling and if any paint looks like it's peeling off, I stop and score it again! Hope this helps friend!karianne

  3. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, thanks for the tips for painting windows. I never was told to score the tape, that does make a difference. Also, pulling off the tape, away from you, that has to be a game changer for me. How I have struggled over the years with the issue of the painter’s tape! Not that I have a window to put right now, but these tips will come in handy for other craft projects in the future. Thanks again!

  4. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Great tips! Tedious jobs like windows make me want to run the other way! It makes such a difference though! I love love white windows and trim! Alas we have oak...

  5. Image for PJ PJ

    These are timely hints for me since I will be soon painting windows in our guest room. Do you have any tips for painting casement windows? Thank you, KariAnne!

    1. Image for KariAnne KariAnne

      Peggy, I've never painted casement windows before---but I found this article that looks super helpful! https://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/paintingcasementwindow.htm Hope this helps! Happy day! karianne

  6. Image for Lenore Lenore

    I have seen on two different remodeling shows that they use this liquid stuff to put on the windows first as a barrier to any paint that you may get on them. You can just start painting without any tape and wipe the windows off with the paint that you have gotten onto the window. It's always one of those things that they just say they do it but no real detail and but always say how much they love it. I think it was on Rehab Addict and one that I think is called Windy City Rehab, both shows are revamping old houses.

  7. Image for Jane Jane

    When do you remove the painters tape? Immediately, 20 minutes or 2 hours? I love your blog. You make me smile so often. Thanks for the good vibes!

  8. Image for Jeanine Jeanine

    Hi KariAnne, Oh how I needed this last year when we were flipping my in-laws rental property! I especially like the idea of scoring the tape. I will have to tuck that smart advice in my pocket.😉 One thing I found really difficult, was how do you paint the bottom part of the window that has about a 1/2" to 1" below the seen part? Do you open the window and paint that part last? First? I used Sherwin Williams paint and you guessed it, each one of those pretty, little, freshly painted windows did not open after my paint job, even though I had the window open all day drying! Sorta, kinda, my least favorite refresh to do!

  9. Image for MD MD

    Nothing looks better than a fresh coat of paint! It makes painting such a satisfying job. But, how do you keep from painting the window shut? My experience is that I can't open the window once the paint dries. It's the sides of the window that get stuck. I've used a razor blade to cut the paint but have had to get "Mr. Muscles" to help me get the window to open again. Any thoughts or tips on how to prevent this from happening?

  10. Image for maureen maureen

    While I don't have any old windows in my home, now I wish I did! I love your phrase "Captain Obvious". Never heard that one before but it brought a smile to my face. Have a good weekend!

  11. Image for Betty Betty

    Karianne: I got all excited as I thought you were going to teach us how to paint old windows as decor with sayings and designs. Too funny on my part. Maybe you could do one of those sometime. But I liked the information so much. You are a great teacher

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