What is the absolute worst way to paint a window? Well, surprisingly, it’s the way that most painters do it! I’m not talking well-meaning DIYers. I’m referring to almost all of the professional painters I see around my town and across the country as well.
Driving around historic neighborhoods, I’m amazed how may times I see a scene like in this picture. Tape as far as the eye can see. A sea of blue proudly sponsored by 3M.
A lot of people will look at this and think, “What excellent prep work! This company is meticulous.”
I just think, “This painter has no idea what he’s doing.”
There are a few options when it comes to painting windows so let’s look at the difference between the mad taper and the smart painter.
Option #1 The “Mad Taper”
- Buy 10 big honking rolls of blue tape for a crazy price.
- Pay the least amount per hour possible to tape windows, taking a waaay long time.
- Pay another guy a little more per hour to spray windows and waste as much paint as possible.
- Pay the guy who makes the least per hour to remove the massive amounts of blue tape.
- Pay another guy a little more per hour to clean the mess left by the sprayer and the places where the blue tape didn’t cover.
- Pay a guy the highest wage of all to touch up the work with a brush.
When you breakdown the whole process, it sounds absolutely insane! All that just to paint a window? How have we taken a seemingly simple process and made it into something so convoluted?
Now, let’s look at how to accomplish the same thing but in a different way.
Option #2 The Smart Painter
- Pay a skilled guy to paint the windows with a brush.
That’s it! No tape to buy, no bags of crusty, gooey tape to trash. Just a skilled painter and his paint brush.
You’ve heard the saying work smarter not harder, right? Well, this is the epitome of that scenario.
Our society is on the downward spiral when it comes to skilled laborers. We’re not interested in learning to be masters at a particular craft. We just want to be good enough to get by and this “painting by tape” mentality is a perfect example of it.
To see the right way to paint a window check out my video post How To: Paint a Wood Window Sash
Where Tape Goes Wrong
I painted a window using tape once just to see if it would make a difference. I’m always testing things to see if there are better ways to do a task and this felt like a subject worthy of testing.
Here are the problems when it comes to painting windows with the tape method: the table below are actual numbers from my painting experiment a couple years ago. This includes 1 coat of paint sprayed and 2 coats of paint brushed since I can build up the needed paint film faster with spraying.
- Spraying uses a lot of paint and increases your materials costs.
- Blue tape is expensive, messy and time consuming to apply and remove.
- Taped paint line fail prematurely because the paint seal is broken when the tape is removed.
Ultimately, it’s faster to brush your windows by hand AND it results in a better, longer lasting finish. You save money on paint, on tape and labor.
When you look at the numbers, why wouldn’t you paint windows by hand from now on?
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.