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Liberating Painted Windows

Prevention Is The Best Medicine
If your windows are screaming, "Attica, Attica!" chances are you (or someone) got very sloppy with the paint last spring. Getting your windows moving again will be a lot more work than would preventing the bad paint job in the first place, so next time use paint around you windows sparingly and avoid all moveable joints and hardware.

Perfectly Painted Windows
If you want everything to look flawless, the only option is to remove the sashes from the frame and paint them separately, then wait for everything to dry before reinstalling. Unless you have a lot of room between the sash and the channels, it is best not to paint the channels, but keep them sanded and well-lubricated. If they're already painted, don't layer on another coat of paint; sand the first layer off before repainting. If you have double-hung windows, insert nails through the tops of the pulley cords (or clamp them with locking pliers) to keep them from disappearing, and then pull the cords out of the sash grooves before you paint. Another tip: use water-resistant paint (semi-gloss or gloss) to help protect the sashes, sills and frame from absorbing moisture. Don't paint the channels.

Your Options
You have some options for freeing your painted-shut windows. Which you choose will depend on your situation and the tools you have at hand.

1. With a utility knife, score the paint between the sash and the window frame. Next insert a putty knife along your scored edge and tap it carefully with a wood or rubber mallet. You can use a hammer, but be careful not to bang too hard with any tool, especially in cold weather, or you could crack the window.
2. Accessing your window from the outside, use a prybar leveraged against a wood block (to protect the sill) to wrench open the window. Work slowly and evenly, first lifting one side of the window, then the other, until you have incremental progress. Don't rush the job or you risk breaking the window and damaging the sash.
3. Working from the inside, score the paint between the sash and the frame. Next place a wood block against the right stile (right vertical sash frame) and carefully hit it with a mallet or hammer. Don't be in a hurry, or you'll break the window. Then do the same to the left stile. Repeat the process, right to left, as many times as needed until you free the sash from the frame.

Of course there is a chance that after all of that, your windows might still stick. There are a number of reasons why this might be happening and you can easily fix the problem with the help of our hand guide: Loosening Tight Windows

Hammer Still got sticky windows? Visit our Doors and Windows forum and get great tips from other DIYers!