How to Open Windows That Were Painted Shut

How to Open Windows That Were Painted Shut

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When a window has been closed for years–or even over a long winter–it’s normal for it to stick a bit when you try to open it again. Sometimes, however, it takes more than just a little extra strength to let in fresh air, especially if the window has been painted closed.

Most windows aren’t shut in an intentional manner. It is usually the result of a poor or lazy painting job. There is an easy way to remove the paint seal from the window and open it again. Here are the basics.

How to open a window that’s been painted shut

Before going any further, check (or double check) that the window isn’t opening because it’s locked, or nailed shut. Also, if your home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that the paint on the window (and the rest of the place) contains lead, so take all necessary precautions. No matter the age of your house or building, it is important to wear gloves and protect your eyes during this project.

Then, using a putty knife (or a dedicated window opener tool, which is a paper-thin, serrated, stainless steel blade), carefully cut through the paint in the joint between the sash (the moving frame that holds the glass pane in place) and the stops (the inside edges of the upper and lower sash channel). As you slide the blade around the perimeter, keep the blade flat.

You may need to cut along both sides of each sash multiple times in order to get to the point where around 1/2″ of your blade is able to get through and slide along the perimeter of the sash freely. You should then be able to open the window.

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In some cases, windows are painted shut on both the outside and the inside, so if the window doesn’t open after freeing one side, repeat the process on the opposite side, if possible.

Once you get the window to the point where it opens and closes easily, sprinkle some talcum powder on the window channels and sashes to keep them lubricated.

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