Can You Paint Aluminum Windows? (Tips for a Long-Lasting Finish)


If your aluminum windows are looking a bit worse for wear, then you’re no doubt wondering whether they can be painted instead of an expensive replacement.

Aluminum windows can be painted, but you must ensure you choose a paint that is suitable for aluminum. The windows can be painted using a paintbrush or by using spray paint. The area needs to be cleaned and prepared properly before painting to ensure a long-lasting finish.

This article is going to show you:

  • What type of paint is best suited to aluminum windows
  • How long the paint will last
  • The costs involved (DIY vs hiring)
  • How to ensure a long-lasting, professional finish

What Kind of Paint Works on Aluminum Windows?

Aluminum reacts to paint in a different way than wood or mild steel since it forms a powdery surface as it oxidizes. Aluminum oxide makes it difficult for some paints to adhere to the surface, and you also need to be careful about the application process.

Your aluminum window frames may already have a coat of paint on them. Old paint will cause issues, and you will need to prepare the surface for a new coat. In general, it is better to use spray paint for aluminum window frames to prevent brush strokes.

Can I Change the Color of My Aluminum Windows?

Factories will often use powder coating to paint aluminum before the frames are assembled. This is an involved process that needs professional equipment and skills.

If you want a new color for your window frames, you have a few choices, which are latex paint, acrylic latex paint, and self-etching primer with gloss.

  • Acrylic PaintOpens in a new tab. – Easy to find in stores and easy to work with. Acrylic paints are inexpensive, dry fast, and leave you with a smooth finish.
  • Latex Acrylic PaintOpens in a new tab. – Excellent adhesion to the surface of an aluminum frame. Better resistance to peeling and cracking than other paints, but more expensive.
  • Self-Etching PrimerOpens in a new tab. – Seals into the rough surface of aluminum frames with a roller or a brush. Lasts a long time, even with exposure to UV and extreme weather. Painting with this primer can be a messy experience.

What Is the Cost of Painting Aluminum Window Frames?

There are great savings in painting your window frames rather than paying someone else to do them. But it depends on how competent you feel you are at painting and if you have the time and patience to do a good job.

A laborer will charge anywhere between $1.35 and $2.90 per linear foot to paint your window frames. A typical home will have around 125 linear feet of window frames, giving you a labor cost average of $235.

Add the labor costs to the cost of standard window-frame paint at $0.50 per linear foot, and this will leave you will a total bill of around $300. The cost can exceed $400 if you choose high-quality paint, hire professional painters, and even more if you need any repairs.

Paying a professional can save you money, as they will spot the areas around your window frames that have issues and need repairs. A professional will also know the best methods of applying the paint so that it looks good and lasts longer.

How Long Do Painted Aluminum Windows Last?

Homeowners like aluminum frames because they do not rust like steel, and they do not rot like wood. The grey color of aluminum is less appealing, which is why you now get aluminum frames in a range of powder-coated colors.

When painting your home, you may decide that the window frames need modernizing. A new set of window frames from your home will cost many thousands, so painting is a cheaper option.

Painting the frames will also extend the lifespan of your windows. Big brand paints state that the application has a guarantee for five years, though if you do it right, it should last for more than 10 years.

How to Paint Exterior Aluminum Window Frames

If you want to add value to your home, painting your aluminum window frames is a good place to start, but you must use the correct paint. If you have chosen to go the route of painting your window frames, then you need to follow these steps:

1. Clean

Always start with cleaning the surface before applying any paint or primer. Old paint, chemical residues, and dust will resist the adhesion of the new paint. If the paint does not stick well from the beginning, it will be more prone to peeling and cracking.

Dirt and dust from the glass can also fall into your paintwork, so it is best to use soapy water and a glass cleaner.

2. Stain Removal

If your aluminum window frame is painted, you may want to remove this paint. Old paints of a different color can mix with the chemicals in new paint and reactivate them. Steel wool is effective at removing most old paints from aluminum frames.

Dish soap can help lubricate the steel wool, and vinegar is good for lifting limescale deposits. Old toothbrushes work well in the corners of a window frame. When all the stains are loose, you can rinse off the frame with pure water, then dry it off.

3. Tape

Investing a bit more time in paint preparation can save you a lot of clean-up time later on. Painter’s tape is useful for preventing paint from getting into the hinges, runners, and locks on each window.

This tape will catch some of the drips that can continue down the glass to form streaks on the lower part of the frame. The tape will also help you to achieve a more professional finish.

4. Prime

Priming a surface before painting is the best way of ensuring a smooth and solid finish on your frames. Paints for aluminum can be a mix of primer and paint, which will save you some time.

But to do it right, it is better to apply a single coat of primer over the clean aluminum. The primer forms a better adhesion to aluminum than painting straight on aluminum. Primer gives you a perfect surface to apply the paint to.

5. First Coat

Always follow the instruction on the paint can. Most manufacturers will recommend using a thinner and mixing it in with the paint. Use a small paintbrush on the frame, as this will prevent overpainting and drips forming.

You need to glide the paintbrush in smooth and straight motions over the frame. Avoid cross-painting because it’ll leave marks. If you feel you need more than one coat, wait for the previous one to be dry to the touch.

6. Tape Removal

When you feel that the frame needs no further coats, you can remove the tape from the frame. Pull the painter’s tape away at right angles. You do not want any tape with wet paint on it to come in contact with the frame. You can scrape off excess paint on the glass with a paint scraper.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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