Staining VS. Painting Window Frames

When renovating your home, an important feature to consider is the window frames. It may seem like a small feature, but how many windows does your home have? Windows that look dilapidated can make the rest of the home look sloppy, even if it’s been freshly painted and updated. Keep your windows looking beautiful with stained or painted woodwork.
Use our guide to help you decide which method will work best for you and your home.

staining and paint brush

Photography by Marco Verch under CC BY 2.0

Pros & Cons of Painting Window Frames

Choosing to paint window frames allows you a bit more freedom than staining. No special technique is needed to paint window frames, other than being sure to tape the inside of the windows to avoid getting paint on the windows.

Choose whichever colors you like to paint the frame. Match the paint to the crown molding or choose a contrasting paint for an unexpected pop of color. Before starting your painting project, sand down any rough spots for the best results. However, if your home features any high-quality wood work, painting may make it look cheap or dated.

Pros & Cons of Staining Window Frames

If you choose to stain your window frames, you are able to control the depth of the color. Oil stains work best for window frame projects, but take longer to dry than water or gel-based stains. Oil stains give the best color control. If you want to perfectly match your hardwood floor, use an oil stain.

Water stains dry quickly, but to get the perfect color you will need to work with extreme precision. Gel stains are great for small projects or difficult surface areas, but are not ideal for window frames. Gel stains will not remove the finish underneath, but are difficult to apply evenly. Stains can be used on all wood work, but look their best on high-quality wood.

Top 5 Things to Consider

  • Lighting—If your home lacks natural lighting, using bright paint can make the space seem brighter and more open. Dark staining will close off the space. If your home has plenty of natural light, adding dark staining will enhance your home’s beautiful features.
  • Wood Condition—Older wood may have suffered more damage than newer wood. Paint can cover imperfections better than staining. If you are thinking of staining wood that was originally painted, it may be lower quality wood. Lower quality wood will not look as beautiful with staining as higher quality wood. Test a small area first before committing and check for rotting areas before painting over them.
  • Your home’s style—Stained woodwork was common in Victorian and Craftsman interiors. Painting rose in popularity later. When was your home built and/or renovated? Research homes built around the same time as yours for some woodwork inspiration. Photos of local homes may be available to view from your local library or historical society. A general rule of thumb—the older and grander your home is, the better stained woodwork will look.
  • Your personal style—Your home is yours! If you like painted over stained or vice versa, go for it! Whichever you prefer, you can find a way to make it work for you and your home’s style. Don’t feel tied down to staining because your home is Victorian style or painted frames if your home is newer. Picture yourself in your home, when it is fully decorated—which do you see?
  • Cost & Labor—Both techniques can be costly and labor intensive, especially if you are taking on the project yourself. Stripping and re-staining all of the window frames in your home is no small task. Painting may be a better solution for you and your current situation. Before you decide which technique to treat your window frames with, decide how much time, effort, and money you are willing to put into the project.

Whether you choose to stain or paint your window frames, your window frames will look beautiful because you are taking the time and effort to take care of them. Take pride in your work and you will love the results. Visit for home decorating ideas and a full catalog of beautiful home furniture at affordable prices!

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