• In this video, This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains how to open a painted window.


    1. Slide a putty knife between the stop bead and window sash to cut through the paint seal.
    2. Use putty knife to open the joint between the bottom sash and stool (windowsill).
    3. Slide putty knife along the meeting rail where the top and bottom sash meet.
    4. Try lifting the sash; if it's still stuck, move on to the next step.
    5. Force a putty knife behind window stop; if necessary, use two or more knives.
    6. Carefully pry the stop from the side jamb using a small flat pry bar.
    7. Use a hammer to pull any nails from the jambs.
    8. With one stop removed, try lifting the sash.
    9. If sash doesn't budge, remove the opposite window stop.
    10. With both stops removed, gently wiggle the sash free of the window frame.
    11. Cut the sash cords and remove the sash.
    12. Scrape the sash of all loose paint, then sand it smooth.
    13. Prime and repaint the sash.
    14. Install new sash cords and replace the sash and window stops.
    • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
      depending on the condition and age of the window.
Ask TOH users about Windows

Contribute to This Story Below

      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • putty knife
        Putty knives,
        used to cut through paint-filled joints
      • hammer
      • flat prybar
        Small flat pry bar,
        used to remove window stops
      • power flush cut saw
        Window-opener saw,
        for cutting paint-sealed seams between window parts
      • utility knife
        Utility knife,
        used to cut sash cords
      • paint scraper
        Paint scraper,
        used to scrape sash before repainting

      Shopping List

      1. Wet/dry vacuum
      used to vacuum up paint chips and dust

      2. Primer and paint topcoat

      3. Sash cords

      4. Sandpaper