Staining Windows versus Painting Windows

When You Have the Option to either Paint or Stain Windows Which Way Do You Go?

By Mark J. Donovan




Our home is an older home and over the years we’ve replaced just about every window in it. The original windows were all builder grade wood windows and nature got the best of them over the years. When we purchased the house, stained wood trim was in, and virtually every piece of window, door and baseboard trim in our home was stained.

As we’ve replaced the windows in the various rooms each time we had to face the staining windows versus painting windows dilemma. Painting windows in a room that has all of its other wood trim stained can make the painted window(s) stick out like a sore thumb.

However, in some cases one can justify the idea that a painted window accents the room. We have used that rational on a number of occasions to paint windows that we had recently installed. In every case, however, we’ve ended up eventually installing new painted baseboard trim in the room with the painted windows, and painting the previously stained door trim.

The Painting Windows vs Staining Windows Dilemma

If you’re deliberating on the staining windows versus painting windows question, there are number of pros and cons for each that you should weigh before deciding. Painting windows provides a cheerier and brighter room and paint is easier to keep clean, particularly because you can see smudges and know where to wash. Painted window trim, for example, may work better in sunny and bright rooms, however it also can be said that painted windows may be the perfect solution for rooms that have limited natural light.

Painting windows, however, can take a little more effort. The windows and window trim should first be primed. Moreover the areas of the window that should not be painted need to be masked off with masking tape. Whenever possible prime and paint the interior wood trim pieces prior to installing them around the window.

Staining windows usually requires less work. Again, it’s wise to pre-stain the window trim prior to installing it around the windows. Simply use a foam brush or rag to wipe the stain onto the window trim and window parts.

Immediately after applying the stain use a clean dry rag to remove any excess stain from the wood. I highly recommend using a lighter stain. Darker stains can make a room feel like a coffin.

Stained window Painted window

Another advantage of staining windows, versus painting them, is the fact that if someday later you want to paint them you can. The paint can be applied right over the stain. The reverse is not possible.

Whether painting or staining windows it’s important to make sure the woodwork on the windows and window trim is clean. Otherwise the paint or stain may not adhere evenly or at all. Also, make sure the room where you’re painting or staining windows is well ventilated and that drop clothes are placed on the flooring directly underneath the window. Moreover, make sure to remove any window hardware prior to painting or staining windows. Windows that can be removed from the window frame should be removed, and the windows painted or stained in a separate and well ventilated area.

Staining windows also offers the added benefit of requiring very little drying time. Painting windows, on the other hand, usually requires the windows to dry for approximately 24 hours before you can reinstall them into the window frames.


See the Installing Interior Window Ebook from HomeAdditionPlus.com. The Installing Interior Window Trim Ebook provides easy to understand, step-by-step instructions, on how to install interior window trim around a window. Pictures are included for every key step in the process.

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