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

How to Open a Window That’s Been Painted Shut

  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 the 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.