Painting Windows, Storms, and Jambs

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Linseed Oil Paint on Historic WindowPreparation

[editor’s note: Follow all lead safe work practices when working with windows, unless they have tested negative for lead based paint.]

Remove all paint from sashes, jambs, sills and interior stools.

Remove the paint with either liquid strippers or infrared heat and carbide hand scrapers. DO NOT DRY SCRAPE. Always mist the paint with water before carbide scraping. Do not excessively heat the wood or it will produce lead fumes over 600 degrees or scorch the wood. If using a standard heat gun, it is not necessary to heat the paint very long. After lightly heating the paint go to another sash or jamb. This allows the heated paint to cool down making removal of the water misted paint easier.

Stage the paint removal, except jambs/sills/stools either off-site or outside the building, on the grounds. Before scraping, all areas on the ground must be tarped off and all windows must be closed. Dispose of all paint debris according to local regulations. Always wear a double filtered respirator rated for lead fumes as well as safety glasses.

Wood Repairs

Repair any rotted broken or cracked siding and trim with like material and/or architectural epoxies. All epoxy wood repairs to be made with both LiquidWood & WoodEpox by ABATRON 262-653-2000 or

Hand Washing

All bare wood should be hand washed with TSP and water. Use ¼ cup of TSP for every gallon of water. This should then be rinsed with clean water.


Before any primer or paint is applied on the wood, you must test the wood to be sure the moisture content does not exceed 15%. The only way to determine this is with a moisture meter. All house painters should have one of these meters. Painting wood above 15% moisture can knock 5 to ten years off the life of the paint job. Power washing is an automatic prescription for paint failure and is not allowed. The high pressure drives moisture deep into the wood and it can take as long as six months to dry down to 15% moisture.


Prime all bare wood surfaces only with Benjamin Moore “Moorwhite” exterior alkyd oil primer. Latex primer does not bite into the wood and condition it properly for caulk and topcoats. This should be applied by brush, not spray. Cover all areas not to receive paint to assure no dripping or spilling on these surfaces.


Use a paintable, acrylic/latex caulk with silicon. Imagine your house under Niagara Falls. Caulk all areas around the jamb and trim that cascading water can penetrate, but don’t caulk where it can’t.

Two Top Coats

Brush-on two coats of Benjamin Moore, MoorGlo semi-gloss, acrylic latex as topcoats to all wood surfaces. Color determined by owner.

Paint Maintenance

A paint job must be maintained on a yearly basis. Look around the house to see if any paint is failing. Paint failure, on a properly painted house, can be caused by things such as exhaust fans not sealed properly, leaky gutters or roof problems. Correct the moisture problems first, then scrape, prime and paint the failed areas.

The text on this page is posted/adapted with permission of Bob Yapp. All material on this page remains Bob Yapp’s intellectual property and as such is copyrighted. Any use of this material is prohibited unless permission is specifically granted by Bob Yapp.

Bob Yapp was raised in Des Moines and was an early Sherman Hill rehabber and Sherman Hill Association Board member. Bob is a furniture maker, old house restorer, author, teacher, preservation consultant & hosted the national PBS series “About Your House with Bob Yapp”. Bob lives in Hannibal, Missouri and can be reached at More detailed information is available on Bob’s website, which will be up and running March 1, 2009