Whether it's an older home that's had a window stuck closed for years or it's been freshly painted over, a stuck window can be stressful and potentially hazardous for homeowners and tenants alike. These are some of the most popular strategies for how to open a stuck window sealed shut due to paint.

How to Open Painted-Shut Windows

For most people, fixing a stuck window involves breaking the paint seal when a window has been accidentally painted over.

Cracking the Paint Seal

  1. Slide a putty knife (or, if you're careful, a box cutter or even a pizza cutter) around the window sash and interior joints.
  2. Do the same on the exterior of the window.
  3. Make sure the window is unlocked. (If the lock was also painted over, be sure to break that seal as well.)
  4. Gently try to lift the sash with your hands, lifting directly upwards.
  5. If this is too hard, stop. Instead, try to wiggle it open using a pry bar. Tap the back of a pry bar with a hammer to get underneath.

But What if That Doesn't Work?

If your window won't open even after trying the combination of putty-knife and pry-bar methods, try these tricks:

Dry Lubricant

  1. Spray "dry" lubricant on the window's interior and exterior tracks.
  2. Try opening the window once again, either with your hands or the pry bar.

Another trick on very old wooden windows is to try rubbing the sash with a piece of candle wax.

Brute Force

  1. Wrap a cloth around a block of wood, place that wood against one of the bottom corners of the window and tap it with a hammer very gently. Another option is to use a rubber mallet instead.
  2. Do this on the bottom corners.
  3. With increasing gentleness, tap using the block, moving upwards until you reach the top of the frame.

Definitely be cautious with this one!

Removing the Window Stops

This strategy involves moving the window's frame. You're going to want to be careful with this step, as it's very easy to lead to more accidental damage.

  1. Remove screws around the window frame.
  2. Slide your putty knife around the window stop to remove it.
  3. Pry the stop away from the jamb.
  4. Remove the nails with the back of a hammer.
  5. Gently pull the entire window sash toward you and wiggle it free of paint.

Removing the Whole Window

This is a much more intimidating DIY repair for most, as it involves cutting the sash cord and replacing it.

  1. Remove screws around the window frame.
  2. Slide your putty knife around the window stop to remove it.
  3. Pry the stop away from the jamb.
  4. Remove the nails with the back of a hammer.
  5. Cut the sash cord, which is usually hidden inside of the wall.
  6. Remove the entire window sash.
  7. Scrape the sash free of paint, sanding it down if necessary.
  8. Install new sash cords and replace the sash.

If you're not a comfortable DIY handyman, we don't recommend this last step, as cutting the sash cords and replacing them can be a fairly difficult job. Also, removing the entire window gives plenty of opportunities for accidental breakage.

If you do accidentally break your window or its frame, don't worry too much. Replacement windows can create a better seal and help you avoid such issues in the future.

Once You Have It Opened: What to Do

While you have it opened, use an old toothbrush and cleaning solution to clean the seams that it had been stuck on.

For windows that don't open due to paint, once the fix has happened, you're going to want to use paint thinner to remove some of that excess, sticky paint along the seams where it had been stuck.

At the end of this process, the window should still fit snugly; if it doesn't, energy loss is likely. Once you've let the paint thinner and cleaner dry, and you're sure that you don't have a window stuck open, try gently shutting it and testing the seam for drafts.

That's the basics of how to unstick a window, but chances are the seams are no longer perfect and energy loss is inevitable. Even if you've done a great job fixing it for the present, it may not be the best long-term solution. Consider window replacement to save on energy. Contact us today to receive a free proposal on Infinity from Marvin fiberglass windows.