GIMME SHELTER- Be a preppie: Get windows and hardware ready

Bob Weakley, D.R. Weakley Painting

Q: I want to repaint my old windows. I also want to refurbish the old painted window latches. Any tips?

A: If you want your paint job to last, how you prepare the surface to be painted is the most important step. Next, buy top-quality paint. If you're going to put the time and energy into the job– the most expensive part, really– why skimp on the paint?

First, determine how much old paint there is on your windows and if it has lead in it. Most people just lightly scrape and sand over the old paint, but if you really want to refurbish old windows, try to get as much of the old paint off as possible. We suggest getting a lead paint test kit to determine if the old paint has lead in it. If it does, and you decide you want to burn it off, wear a mask and open the windows, as the fumes are highly toxic. 

If you decide to use a flame, be careful! We've had to re-paint houses where the owners tried to burn paint off and lit their houses on fire. Old houses are particularly susceptible to this. A heat gun is safer than a flame, but you still have to be careful, as the paint and wood can ignite.

The safest thing to use is paint stripper. Just spread it over the paint and leave it there for however long the directions on the can call for. Then simply scrape the paint off with a stiff brush or putty knife.

To refurbish the old window latches, first remove them and let them soak in stripping solution until the paint falls off on its own. Then go over them lightly with some steel wool, making sure to wear plastic gloves, as the chemicals can burn your skin. You can also buy some brass and metal polish to make them really shine!

Once the surface of your windows is sanded smooth and free from grit and dust, you're ready to prime and paint. After the primer dries, lightly sand and clean the surface again. When you start to paint, just go slow and put on a nice even coat. And don't worry too much if you get some paint on the windows. When the paint dries, you can always gently scrape it off with a razor blade.

When the paint's dry and the panes are cleaned up, re-install the hardware and you're good to go!

Bob Weakley