Sunday, January 23, 2011

Painting Windows

Neighbor's back door
There's not a lot of progress to report on my multiple projects.  I've been working with The Architects again to tweak the kitchen and bathroom plans.  I'll show you those plans in another post.  I've been ordering fabric samples from a variety of ebay and etsy sellers for my upholstery projects.  I get overwhelmed whenever I go into a fabric store but I want to see things in person.  I thought ordering one-yard samples would be a good way to limit my choices and see how they look in my house compared to under the fluorescent lights of a store.  And buying fabric online seems like a cost-effective alternative.

Everything here has been a frozen, snowy mess since Christmas.  We've had three major snowstorms in a row...

That's -3 F.  (-21 C. for the rest of the world)

...colder than normal temps...

 ...and there's another big storm predicted for this week. 

 I literally have nowhere to put any more snow.   I may have to attack this pile and put it over the fence into the side yard.

Since I'm cooped up inside, I thought this would be a good time to get the new windows painted.  I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by this project.  All these little panes add up to one big pain. 

142 panes.

568 little corners.

One coat of primer, one finish coat.

So I've committed to getting one window done per weekend which means I'll be done by spring.  That's two things to look forward to:  painted windows and spring.

I don't normally use tape when I paint.  I'm a very neat painter, I have a pretty steady hand and I'd rather deal with any mishaps as they happen as opposed to finding surprises under the tape when you peel it off.

I started painting by hand but I'm such a perfectionist about the edges, I was really unhappy with the job I was doing.  So I decided to try Frog tape.  I've read really positive reviews of it, so I thought it would be a good chance to try it out myself.  Taping up the edges was pretty easy but getting the tape cut at perfect right angles to fit in the corners was a real chore.

As I stood taping up all the panes of one of the living room windows, Sam stopped by to start work on the front stair railings.  When he saw me taping up the windows he said, "You should get those painter's tape corners."


"They make rolls of blue painter's tape corners that fit perfectly in the corners."  Sam said he'd never used them but he's worked with painters that really swear by them.

I don't know how many times I've been to Home Depot and various paint stores and I've never noticed them.  Maybe I just never noticed.

Have you seen them?  Have you tried them?

I went on ebay and found only one listing for them so I bought a few rolls and two days later they arrived.  Each roll of 60 corners was about $7.50

They're definitely easier and faster to stick in place than trying to cut perfect right angles with the tape.  And then I filled the gaps with Frog tape.  This must look really attractive from outside.

After using the blue corners on one window, I'll agree they work well.  They kept the paint off the glass and peeled off cleanly without having to score anything with a razor blade.  I also REALLY love the Frog tape.  It works amazing well.  On one living window which has 18 panes, I had only one tiny place where the paint bled underneath and required cleaning up with the razor blade.  Everywhere else the edges are perfect!

After painting the two big living room windows, the light bulb went on and I figured out a way to handle the corners that's pretty easy and doesn't require the extra cost of the blue corners.

Rip one small piece and cut the corner at a blunt angle and position the point into the corner on one side of the pane.

Rip a second small piece, cut a blunt angle and again place the point into the corner on the other side of the pane.

If you do this when it's light outside, you can see if you get the tape tight to the edge.  You can see here that I didn't quite get it tight on the top.  You could pull it back and try again or...

...just rip another piece and overlap it.

Actually, if you rip about a three-inch piece, you can cut the tape at an angle in the middle and have no waste at all.  I drew a line where I could cut just so you can see what I mean.  (I wouldn't draw lines on the tape.  The ink could end up in the paint.)

Ripping these small pieces and cutting the corners is something that you can do while sitting and listening to music, watching TV or watching it snow.  I'm sticking them lightly on a plastic cutting board that I'll pull them from as I'm taping up my next window.

The painted windows look beautiful.  I'm really happy with how they turned out.  

Two down, eight more to go.


  1. I would literally be insane by now! Kudos to you for your insane amount of determination!
    The white looks so fresh and pretty...I beg everyday to paint my trim and windows white but to no avail...someone loves the old oak just as much as I love white trim, apparently.
    What did you do so the window doesn't get painted shut on the sides?

  2. Sarah,
    The windows tip in so, even though it's cold outside, I was able to tip them a tiny bit in to make sure there wasn't any excess paint at the sides.

  3. Good tips! I have 10 windows in my cabin, and the last owners just slopped paint over them. the only thing worse than taping a window is spending hours scraping old paint off of them! Keep up the good work!

  4. Steve, you're amazing! This is meticulousness taken to a new height. You make me feel like the sloth Mick mentions in his post, the paint-slopper. And I'm pretty careful...

    The windows look great, completely professionally done. They're gorgeous.

  5. What a great job!! Anything worth doing is worth doing it well. I believe that is your motto. Your windows look fantastic.

  6. Steve, gorgeous job. I never knew about tape corners until now, thanks. Although I am not a taper, I just literally hold my breath as I paint -- it was tough doing all the panes on a french door this summer not breathing!! Those could have come in handy. You really do an amazing job with that house. And, can you stand this snow? I am so. done.

  7. jesus, what a chore. you are my new hero. i am painting trim throughout the entire house and gave up after the second window with the excuse that i will wait until spring when days are longer and i feel like painting in the evenings. you have my vote for hero of the month.


  8. That is a huge project. The window looks beautiful. Last time I painted a window...I didn't tape and just cleaned it up with a razor. I decided that was quicker than putting all the tape up and I think it was. I had a professional painter tell me that they didn't bother with tape themselves - that they'd rather scrape.

    But I did not know about those corners those look like they would work great.

  9. wow - i wish i had known about the blue corner tape 2.5 years ago. i can't believe how great your windows look - so professional and perfect.

    can't imagine having all that snow to shovel - bet your arms are in shape!

  10. Oh my goodness! I have 5, 6 over 6 windows to paint! I could kiss you for this tip! LOL!!!

  11. You are an engineering marvel! You should patent the tape cutting technique. Your finished window looks lovely. Well done, you.

  12. you have the patience of job my friend! wow, that's a lot of panes. makes me want to go kiss my 2-over2's! I do not paint.... put a paint brush in my hand and I get a wee-bit;) cranky!! I love new products though and have never seen those tape corners either....your idea; however, is brilliant!
    one a weekend sounds like a good goal! good luck!
    oh, and they look beautiful btw!!

    stay warm! it's minus 1 here right now and the sun is out!


  13. oh good! thank you for the tip about the corners! I will be painting the house this spring and will be dealing with the same challenge. These will really help.

    It was 9 degrees below zero here this morning.

  14. Oh, you have my sympathy. I like painting walls, in fact I find it kind of relaxing. Not so for painting windows, or any other woodwork for that matter. Good luck on that!

    We've had a lot of snow here in NC, too. We rarely get snow, but his year it looks like we might get it twice! When it snowed last week I went out to give the bf a ride to work and I heard an awful noise coming from the car. When I stopped and got out to look I realized that it was big icy chunks of snow wedged in all the wheel wells! Crazy! Spring can't come too soon for me.

  15. THIS is one of the reasons I tell my friends to check out might learn something.....Thank you for sharing your discoveries with us...I learned something today...k

  16. I admire you, I really do. I finished painting my basement and the chair railing alone has left me avoiding other paint projects!
    Lila Ferraro

  17. Steve, those tape corners are amazing! When I think of all the little pains of glass I've so tediously taped....

    To answer your question about concept drawings, I do my own (and I do it for my interior design clients, as well). I did my own drawings, and construction docs for the house renovation, except for the part that required an engineer -- we worked together really well, actually -- I supplied conceptual drawings -- she told me why earthquake or wind codes wouldn't allow what I wanted.... :)

    Seriously, though. I usually use SketchUp (the free version) for the computer models (used to use 3D VIZ, before discovering SketchUp) It's quick, easy, and relatively painless. For the beach bedroom, I used GIMP (again, it's free, and almost identical to PhotoShop). It was very painful, as I kept thinking how much faster it would be to break out the markers and just do a rendering (you can see some of my renderings on my blog under the tab "sketching and concepts"), but I really need to improve my Gimp/ PhotoShop skills, so that's why I did it that way (practice on yourself, not your client, blah, blah, blah). The nice thing about Gimp and Photoshop is you can place images of actual product in your picture. I even use good old Paint for some very basic stuff.
    For construction docs, I use DoubleCAD (the free version), or an older version of Architectural Desktop, but I'm thinking about biting the bullet and buying Chief Architect, as that is what my structural engineer uses....

    And now you have learned not to ask me any questions that channel my inner nerd!


  18. Thanks for the window tips! This is my first time visting and enjoyed stopping by. I found your last post to be so touching. xo

  19. After all the houses I’ve renovated (not to mention all the windows I’ve painted), I had no idea about the painter’s tape corners. Thanks for posting! Also, thanks to Sam!

  20. what a chore!
    but how glad you will be when it is done.
    Great tip on the tape corners.
    - {darlene}

  21. Great window-painting tips and inspiration for what to do when we're all stuck inside. About fabric: I'm not sure if I've spotted a reference to ZIMNANS in Lynn in your blog. The only place to go for fabric! Really. Although completely overwhelming: you literally have to go outside, close your eyes, and go back in.

  22. Hi Steve, just catching up. I like the square thingys. And as always everything looks so beautiful, even with the cold!

    xo kel

  23. Hola Steve, I believe Mrs. Mastrullo is very happy with all the love and care you have put in the house and for sure she would aprove all the changes you have made to it.

    I can see you have ice all around while here we are melting....

  24. Bless you my son, for informing me of this tape after so many years of painting and painting and painting! You are a Saint.

  25. STEVE!!! Just yesterday I was thinking...only six more windows left (the six windows in our dormer). Ever since we had our windows installed (um, three years ago now...), we've been chipping away at painting them. The task makes your eyes cross after awhile!
    Our windows are mostly six over one double hung, with another three large casements (living room, kitchen and entry).
    We ordered ours primed (extra cost) so that's how we've gotten away with taking so long to paint them. At a glance, they look painted because the primer was white.
    OH, and we've gone through millions of rolls of the corner tape - and millions of rolls of blue tape. All very familiar items in this household!
    The windows do look beautiful when done - a huge motivating factor to keep at it!
    ; ) Trina

  26. Oh, if only I had read this post before painting my French door black. I'll never forget about corner tape, though.

  27. I am so appreciative of your break-through on window taping. Many thanks. I can only echo all the other people who sing your praises. What a pile of work you have saved us all.

    Love your blog. I hope you don't ever quit bringing us the esthetic enjoyment that I admire in your approach to life. Ann