How to Fix Painted Shut Windows


There is no better time of year on the Gulf Coast to fling open those dusty windows to the April air, inviting the cool smells of the garden into your home. This wonderful window of time (pun intended) needs to be embraced whole-heartedly and promptly before the humidity of summer crashes the party. It’s a ritual in these parts, a yearly reminder that we share this city with a host of colorful, feathered friends whose songs float over the sills of our open windows. Consider it a spring-cleaning for the Mobile soul.

If you’re like me, you read Bill Finch’s latest article in our April issue, “Open the Windows to Spring, ” with sincere pleasure…followed by severe frustration. You see, I live in a Midtown home behind windows that have been assaulted—abused by some faceless villain of the past with a brush and a bucket of paint. For several decades, my windows have remained this way, painted shut to the world and serving essentially as portholes. I think it’s time we said, “Enough!” Let’s restore our windows to their intended purpose—to relieve mankind from a suffocating, indoor existence.

Tools you’ll need:

1 oz. simple syrup
Crushed ice
2 oz. bourbon
10 fresh mint leaves
Utility knife (box-cutter)
Putty knife

- Sponsors -

1. The first, and probably most important, step is to mix yourself a mint julep. In a highball glass or silver cup, muddle mint leaves with simple syrup. Fill glass to the top with crushed ice. Add bourbon with a splash of water and garnish with a mint sprig.
2. Take a utility knife around the interior of the window where the frame meets the sash. Focus on trying to break any visible paint bonding the window in place. Cut slowly, careful not to gouge the wood, injure yourself, or spill your drink as you go.
3. Still working on the interior, wedge a putty knife around the entire window to break deeper bonds the utility knife couldn’t reach. If necessary, tap the putty knife with a hammer to fit it in the crack.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the exterior of the window.
5. At this step, although you’ve broken most of the bonding that has been holding your window in place, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to slide it up by hand. From the exterior, use a crowbar to slowly pry up your window. Try this from several places at the base of the window, and proceed gently. With a little finesse, you should have your window open in no time.
6. Repeat step 1.
7. Repeat step 6.

Text by Breck Pappas

Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox

Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more!