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Can Vinyl Windows Be Painted?

Short answer: you can paint vinyl windows, but there are pros and cons to doing this. So the real question is, should you?

Whether or not you should paint vinyl windows is a little bit trickier. Before you decide to give your vinyl frames a nice new coat, our team at Portland Glass suggests you learn more about the potential risks of painting your vinyl frames.

Risks of Painting over Replacing

Flaking and peeling paint

The surface of vinyl is not ideal for holding paint. There is a high possibility that your paint coat will start peeling much quicker than on other surfaces.

Voiding your warranty

By painting your vinyl frames, you could risk damaging the window and voiding any warranties you had. If something goes wrong, you might have to pay a lot of money to get it fixed.

Causing serious damage

Not only do most primers contain chemicals that soften vinyl, but dark colors absorb heat and can warp a vinyl frame, potentially breaking the glass.

What are my options besides painting?

Before turning to the paintbrush, consider these alternatives first:

  • Replace your windows. If your windows are really old, it might be worth just updating the whole frame. This is definitely the costly option, but it guarantees you will get the exact results you want.

  • Clean your frames. It’s amazing what a difference a good scrub down can make. If you are disappointed with your dingy window frames, try giving them a good cleaning before turning to paint. Newly clean window frames can look entirely different!

  • Decorate around your window. This might sound ridiculous, but try adding nice curtains or plants around your window. Masking your window frames with other items might not have the same effect, but it’s a cost-effective solution without risking damaging your windows.

How to Paint Vinyl Windows?

If you’ve decided that you still want to proceed with painting your vinyl window frames, we have created a step by step guide to reduce your risks and apply a fresh coat as safely and expertly as possible.

Step 1: Use vinyl-safe paint

There are a number of factors to consider when picking the right paint to use on your vinyl windows.

  • Use paint designed for vinyl. Some paints claim to be vinyl-safe, so make sure you use paint that specifies that they do not utilize chemicals harmful to vinyl.

  • Choose your colors wisely. Because certain colors trap heat and react differently, you should avoid drastic color changes from white to dark colors. Neutral colors like gray or brown are best. And never paint over forest green!

  • Check with your manufacturer. They may have feedback on what kinds of paint you should use or what colors to avoid. When it comes to your windows, they will know best.

Step 2: Clean your windows

In order to make sure the paint is applied correctly, you need to clean your windows and remove all dirt and debris. You can wash your frames with diluted dish soap, water, and a cloth. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your windows and let completely dry before proceeding.

Step 3: Sand your window frames

Because vinyl is designed to repel liquids, it can be very difficult to get the paint to stick to its surface. Sanding your window frames makes it easier for your paint to hold on to the surface of the vinyl.

Using 220 or 240-grit sandpaper, sand the vinyl surface until it is rough. Make sure to clean off all the dust or you will paint the dust into the frame.

Step 4: Protect your glass and walls with painter’s tape

Now it’s time to protect everything that won’t be painted. Using painters tape (and plastic sheeting if you want), cover up any surfaces near the window frame that shouldn’t get paint on them. Make sure to not cover up any parts of the window frame that needs to be painted. Also, only use painter’s tape (that way you can easily remove it later without damaging anything).

Step 5: Prime the window frame

Use a primer specifically designed for vinyl – other primers can have chemicals that damage vinyl! Look for an alkyd-based primer and apply one coat (you probably will only need to apply one coat of primer for this project). Let it dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 6: Paint the window frame

Next, it’s time to apply the vinyl-safe paint. If you are not using spray paint, try applying the paint with a sponge brush rather than a regular paint brush. You might need to apply two coats before moving forward.

Step 7: Let it dry before cleaning up

Once everything is dry, you can remove the painter’s tape (and plastic sheets if you used them). Be very careful to not also pull off the new paint coat. You can then start cleaning up your paints and supplies.

And with that, you are done and free to enjoy your newly painted window frames!

For more information and helpful tips on how to care for or improve your windows, check out the other blog posts from Portland Glass.