Tips on scraping painted windows

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I spent a few hours this weekend scraping the four windows in our bedoom after I finished painting them. These are older wooden sash windows, with 6 panes over 6 panes. For those of you counting, that’s 12 panes per window, or 48 panes total. It gets rather boring to scrape that many windows.

windowI tried using masking tape years ago but was never that happy with the results. So I just paint the wood and later scrape off any paint that gets on the glass panes.

Here are some tips, many of which I actually follow when I am preparing to paint the windows and then when I am finishing the job.

  • If the previous person did not do a good job of scraping the old paint off the glass panes, you should do that before you paint the window. Fill in any gaps between the glass and window with caulk, then let it dry.
  • Clean the glass as well as the other parts of the window before you paint.
  • As you paint, try not to get too much paint on the glass, but you do want the paint to seal between the wood and the glass.
  • Let the paint dry at least 8 hours and preferably closer to 24 before you scrape it. Otherwise the bits you scrape off may paint-glue themselves to your nicely painted wooden sill.
  • Before you scrape, take a sharp knife such as a box cutter and score through the paint where the glass meets the wood. Even if you do use masking tape, don’t forget this step.
  • Presuming you are using a razor blade to scrape, make sure it is sharp, which probably means that is it new. Don’t use the same blade for more than one or two windows, depending on how large they are and how many panes they each contain. Buy extra blades before starting the job.
  • Use a razor blade holder. Your local home center probably has several models. It’s worth paying a bit more for one that is sturdy, holds the blade securely, doesn’t slip, and fits your hand. Scraping is tedious, don’t make it more so by using a tool that will cramp your hand and make the job last longer.
  • Use a stiff non-metallic brush after you scrape off the paint to get the remaining little paint bits out of the corners between the wood and the glass.
  • If you vacuum the window, don’t ruin your new paint job by scraping the vacuum nozzle on the window itself.
  • After the paint has dried for a few days, clean the panes again with a good household window cleaner.