How to Open Sash Windows which Have been Painted Shut

You would be surprised at how common it is to encounter sash windows which have been painted shut.

It’s not always deliberate, sash windows are tricky to repaint, and if not done correctly, any window will stick with new paint. However, homeowners often repaint sash windows that they never open and add to the paint layers. If the cord and pulley mechanism has broken and they don’t want the repair cost, the window remains shut and is painted in that position.

If you have just moved into a new property and find the sash windows are painted shut, it’s actually relatively easy to open them, and you don’t need to be a DIY expert to do this. However, you will need a few tools, including: –

  • A utility knife
  • A couple of putty knives
  • A flat pry bar
  • A paint scraper
  • A hammer
  • A flush-cut saw

A Step-by-Step Guide to Opening a Sash Window which Has been Painted Shut

Cut the paint seal using a putty knife and slide it between the window sash and the stop bead. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to ensure the seal is fully released. With a putty knife, start by loosening and opening the joint between the bottom sash and the window sill. This is where a hammer comes in useful.

Then, slide the knife along the rail where the top and bottom sash meet. Try opening the window at this point. If it opens, then success, but if it doesn’t, locate the window stop and force one of the putty knives behind it. Using a small pry bar, carefully lever the window from the side jamb. If any nails are in the jamb, remove them with the hammer.

With one window stop removed, try moving the sash. If it doesn’t budge, then remove the other stop. Next, move the sash from side to side, this should be enough to break the seal formed by the paint layers, and it should come loose.

Once the windows are operational, this is the time to take out the sash cords, remove the windows and examine them for any rot and damage. The windows can be repaired, sanded down, primed and painted. It’s worth fitting a new cord mechanism if the old one has deteriorated and ensuring the pulley mechanism is working correctly whilst you have the opportunity.

Repair and Restoration

If you want to have your sash windows assessed for operation and condition, then any installer or window company will need to move them in order to do this. If you haven’t got the windows operational, then they will!

Releasing sash windows that have been painted shut is a golden opportunity to refurbish the window and evaluate whether there are better glazing options for thermal regulation and draught sealing. Taking the window out of the frame is also the best time to overhaul the rope and pulley that operates the window, check that the weights are appropriate, and rebalance the window mechanism.

Always ensure the windows are running freely when replaced, especially with newly painted sash window panels. Old sash window frames can be quirky – your installer will call it character or individuality – and window panel and frame need to work together for a sash window to run smoothly.

We restore and repair sliding sash windows and bespoke manufacture new ones that can be retrofitted to existing frames. Our windows are available in a vast range of sizes, styles and designs and are suitable for contemporary properties, new builds, and period homes. We use the best traditional techniques, modern paints, wood treatments and glazing to produce thermally efficient windows with superior acoustic control, draught sealing and security.

Contact us here to learn more about bespoke sliding sash windows and our repair and refurbishment services.