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How to paint steel window frames

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13 Mar 2012

I receive plenty of enquiries from readers wanting to remove layer upon layer of paint on steel window frames. For most homeowners the normal practice is to give them a wipe down and then apply more paint over the top to refresh steel frames.

The best solution for restoring steel window frames, especially those that are showing signs of rust underneath the paint, is to strip them down to the finish and start from scratch.

However, the best solution for restoring steel window frames, especially those that are showing signs of rust underneath the paint, is to strip them down to the finish and start from scratch.

In doing this you will be able to sort out any rust problems and get rid of layers of paint at the same time, resulting in a much neater and nicer finish.

Here's how:

Step 1

To get rid of layered paint - the easiest option is to use a paint stripper. Plascon RemovAll is an eco-friendly paint stripper that will remove layered paint or varnish without burning your skin or harming the environment. Use a paint brush to apply RemovAll liberally over the entire frame. 

Follow the instructions and note that you may need more than one application if there are plenty of layers to remove. 

Step 2 

Use a paint scraper to remove all the old paint and then sand with 120-grit sandpaper.

Where there are severe rust spots, apply Rust-Oleum Stops Rust to these areas. DO wear rubber gloves when working with this product.

Rust-Oleum Stops Rust can be purchased at your local Builders Warehouse

Step 3

Now is the perfect time to perform any repairs necessary, such as removing old putty and replacing with an exterior acrylic sealer. 

Use a craft or utility knife to scrape against the glass and down the side against the frame for a neat edge. 

To remove any remaining putty thereafter, dampen a cloth with linseed oil and wipe clean.  

Step 4 

If you have removed old and flaky putty, you now need to replace it. 

Mould the putty in your hands to get it soft and pliable. If it sticks to your hands, try wetting them, or reduce the oil in the putty by rolling it onto some kitchen paper. 

Roll the putty into a sausage shape to fit around the frame. Press it round the edges only, taking care not to push too hard in one place – and never in the middle of the glass. This could cause it to break and injure you. 

Step 5

Smooth off with a putty knife or paint scraper to form a neat triangular line. 

Leave the putty for about two weeks to harden slightly before painting it. When you paint it, allow the paint to spread onto the glass by 3mm to keep out the rain. 

Step 6

If you need to fit up on the inside of the window frame, use an acrylic sealer to fill in any gaps.

While providing excellent filling, an acrylic sealer also stops rattling window panes and is easy to paint over. 

Step 7

Now it's time to paint the window frames. You have two options for painting window frames, depending upon how you want the finished frames to look. 

You can use acrylic enamel and paint brush to paint the frames, or you can spend some time taping off the frames (if you don't have burglar bars) and use Rust-Oleum high gloss enamel spray. 


Coastal regions and windows that have signs of rust should be given a suitable primer coat before painting. Again, you have two options: either paint on with a paint brush, or spray on. 

Top Coat

Prominent Paints Ultra Gloss is a high performance, superior quality, water-based pure acrylic enamel that will not yellow over time. Formulated for interior and exterior use on steel and galvanised iron, it is perfect for window frames.

Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Gloss Protective Enamel Spray is the No. 1 rust-preventative paint available. It provides lasting protection and beauty in a wide variety of colours and can be applied to metal, wood, concrete or masonry. The any-angle spray feature allows you to spray in any direction, even upside-down. 

Rust-Oleum products are available at your local Builders Warehouse.

Buy Prominent Paints at your local dealer or Decorating Centre. 

Article courtesy of   

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