Painting Old Metal Window Frames | Ep. 157

rusted metal window
Painting rusted metal windows takes time and patience. If you do it right, it will last a long time.

Painting old metal window frames that are rusted and stuck with decades-old glaze is not for the faint of heart, but can be done.

Mary from Magnolia Springs, Ala., lives in her grandparents’ 1941 home and needs advice on painting the metal cranking windows in the home. 

Taped metal windows
Before painting metal windows, you need to remove the aging caulk. (Photo courtesy of Mary)

Remove Old Glaze

First, you need to start by removing as much of that old glaze on the metal window frames as you can. The good thing about working on metal rather than wood is you can be relatively aggressive when removing the glaze. Use a Dremel tool with an abrasive end to get the old glaze off.

To remove the glaze in the inner corners closest to the window glass, use a small disc grinder. Be sure to wear a full face mask and a respirator. Because of the age of the windows, you never know if there is a risk of you being exposed to lead in the original glaze.

You can also steam the metal window frames with a wallpaper steamer or regular steamer to soften up the glaze. This will take several minutes, but you should be able to remove a good bit with a putty knife afterward. Intact glazing that is not badly cracked can be left behind.

Putty knife
A fresh coat of glaze on metal windows will give you an even surface for painting.

Apply Fresh Glaze

Next, you need to prep your metal window frames for painting. Find some window glaze that comes in a tube with a square nozzle. This will make it easier and cleaner to apply to the metal closest to the windows than dipping the glaze from a can and using a brush. You can find latex window glazing with this kind of nozzle that is paintable and weather-resistant. 

Another trick when applying tubed glaze is to make sure the container is nice and warm. All you need to do is store it in your home to make sure it’s at least 70 to 80 degrees. This will make squeezing the thick glaze out of the tube easier.

Once you have the innermost lines of your window glazed, spread the rest of the metal frame with glaze with a putty knife to even out the surface for painting.

Attention to detail is a must, so this step in painting the metal window frames will take some time.

Paintbrush painting window
Oil-based, rust-resistant primer will keep your metal windows looking fresh.

Prime and Paint

Next, you will need to prime the metal window frames for painting. Use an oil-based, rust-resistant primer. Oil-based paint provides a smooth surface and can be used to cover up any existing flaws

For your top coat, use 100-percent acrylic paint. 

If you’re diligent and follow these steps, the repair project will last a long time.

Skip to [30:53] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Also on this episode:

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Simple Solutions

Sawhorse Saddle — To prevent sawhorses from scratching up finished pieces, such as a painted door or cabinet, try covering the sawhorses with pool noodles. Use a serrated bread knife to cut a pool noodle about an inch longer than the horizontal rail on each sawhorse. Next, cut a slit along the length of the noodles with a utility knife. Then, slip one pool noodle onto the rail of each sawhorse. The soft pool noodle grips on tightly and will protect workpieces from dings, dents and scratches. And when you’re done, simply pop off the pool noodles and you’re back to a pair of standard wooden sawhorses. 

Watch: How to Protect Woodworking Projects on Sawhorses 

Tarp Tie-Down — To prevent plastic tarps from being blown away, try this trick: Fill a few one-liter plastic bottles with sand or water, then tie one bottle to each corner of the tarp, and one or two in between on larger tarps. The weighted bottles will hold the tarp securely place.

Question of the Week

Q: How is a hybrid water heater different from a regular water heater?

A: A hybrid water heater is an electric water heater equipped with a heat pump. The pump captures heat from room air and transfers it to the cold water entering the water heater. This system makes it so the water heater element doesn’t have to work as hard and, therefore, uses less energy.

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