One of the things we love most about wood windows is how their traditional beauty can warm a home. But like any natural substance, wood windows need proper care when customizing them with a stain. Read on to learn how to stain wood windows and refinish old ones to maintain the qualities we so appreciate.

How to Stain Wood Windows: The Key is Preparation

Before first applying a stain or refinishing, wood windows need some simple prep to not only optimize the stain’s appearance but also preserve the quality of the window frame. Our 7-step guide for staining wooden windows will take you through the details of each step. With regular wood window maintenance, you can enjoy your wood frames for years to come.

Step 1: Planning

The first step in how to stain wood windows is all about organization and initial prepping of your window:

  • Select your stain in advance of beginning your work. There is a stain to complement every interior from traditional to contemporary.
  • Have all the tools you need before you begin. These simple and inexpensive tools include sandpaper, a scraper, cotton rags, and brushes.
  • Break down your window into its main components by removing hardware and any other detachable pieces from where you will be staining.

Step 2: Remove Old Finish

If you’re refinishing wood windows, take care to properly remove the old finish before you refinish wood window trim with a new stain:

  • If trying to match an existing stain, bring a removable portion of the frame to a paint store to best do so.
  • Remove old finish on the windowsill and bottom frame with a scraper, using smooth, careful strokes.
  • Use sandpaper to remove old stain on the sidepieces of the wood frame.
how to stain wood windows

Image from DIY Network

Step 3: Prepare Wood Surfaces

New, unstained wood frames will also need to be sandpapered for optimum smoothness. When sanding window frames for sanding, we recommend a 100-grit sandpaper or higher. Sand with the grain, avoiding the window glass, and remove all dust with a clean cloth when finished.

Step 4: Apply Masking

Knowing how to stain wood windows also involves knowing how to protect your window glass and surrounding area. Masking is available in wide rolls that can be trimmed to size and adhered to your window glass and walls. When your staining is complete, it can be easily peeled away.

Step 5: Pre-Staining

We highly recommend using a pre-stain wood conditioner before applying your stain. This will help ensure an even finish with fewer streaks and blotching.  Your paint store professional can help you choose a pre-stain conditioner that’s most compatible with your stain and finish.

refinishing wood windows

Image from Pella

Step 6: Stain the Windows

Believe it or not, actually applying the stain is one of the last steps in how to stain wood windows. Apply your stain in an even coat according to the manufacturer’s instruction, using multiple coats if necessary. Use a clean cloth to wipe away excess stain and a dry brush to remove pooling from any crevices.

Step 7: Apply Finish

As a final step in staining wood windows, we suggest using an oil-based wood varnish. This clear finish will both protect your wood and stain and add a thin gloss to your window frame.

Here at Glass West, we understand the natural beauty and attributes of wood window frames. We’re happy to answer any additional questions about how to stain wood windows as well as wood window installation and repair.