Wondering about Window Whitening

When we first moved into our apartment there were a few high impact projects that I couldn’t wait to complete.  The idea was that our contractor could complete the biggest tasks before we moved any furniture in, and I would be left to work on the smaller/more intricate projects.

Due to the surprise water damage to our parquet floors, one of these projects got bumped. Refinishing the floors took up the majority of our contractor’s timeline and after encountering chilly and wet February weather he informed us that he was not going to be able to paint our red window frames.

When I set out researching the possibilities for improvements to apartments like ours via previous sales listings in our building on Street Easy, the most noticeable improvement was getting rid of those red frames. Somehow, the red frames close off the view and feel distracting and barring from the world outside, but the white frames felt practically invisible allowing you to see beyond the room and scan that beautiful view in the distance.

Let me show you a few examples:




16146139 69467546






I knew that our broker’s wife had painted her window frames herself and  figured I could too…but my research into the project was pretty daunting.

When attempting to define the type of metal and paint I would be covering, it looked like very few DIYers had attempted to paint any windows like these. I always prefer to read at least one success story before jumping into a huge project on my own…and I wasn’t finding anything helpful.

I had a few major questions and I wasn’t finding the answers.  How should I prep the metal and paint, that seemed more like plastic coating than any paint I’d seen before. Since the windows slide, how much of the window should I paint? Should I paint the track? Should I clean the track first? What about the backside of the window? When it is open it will show the previous red color…is this acceptable?

I got pretty intimidated after a while and finally decided to contact our contractor and price the project with his company. I knew he had completed this task successfully before, so I had confidence that his guys would use the right products and prep the windows properly.

The price for both windows was 500 dollars. Ouch. That really felt like a lot of money for a painting project…but when I thought about all my hesitations and questions along with my true lack of a jumping off point…maybe his expertise and labor was well worth the impact that these windows would have on the overall feel of our home.

As with every project in NYC…it’s never quite as easy as just saying YES and paying the right person.

In our building (as with many of the high-rises in the city) we are required to file a work order along with all of the contractor’s information and proof of their insurance. Then we must schedule which days the work will take place. If this work will disturb our neighbors we must inform the residents on either side and above and below our unit (in writing) of the work that will take place and how long it will be going on. They don’t make this stuff easy.

Turns out, our painter got the flu and the second day that he was supposed to come and paint he had to cancel. This in turn, extends the working period – and I have file another work order…blah blah blah. Yikes.

I was home to watch the progress on most of the windows, although I had a number of call backs for summer musicals that week – which made for some interesting interaction. This is worth mentioning because my poor hard-working painters had to listen to me sing Wonderful Guy, Look What Happened to Mabel,  Another Suitcase in Another Hall from Evita, Happy Working Song, Sailor of My Dreams, etc. etc. multiple times until I felt warmed up and confident for the day.  Those poor guys! They were angels! (On second thought…maybe THAT’S why that guy called in sick!!)

What I learned watching their “process” was a little disappointing for all the questions and concerns I had as a DIYer. The guys didn’t need to prep the windows at all! They used a primer and paint combo that they just slapped up there in thick coats with a regular paint brush. I wish I had the brand to share with you, but the painter took the extra with him – normally they leave it so I can touch up later. Too bad.

They did use a special tool to scrape the dirt from the track before painting down there…but really the paint is chipping in the track from moving the window back and forth all spring and fall – so I don’t feel like was as big of a deal as I was imagining. Though, had I done it myself I would have felt like I did something wrong when the paint came off – so at least I know that this happens even when the professionals tackle it.

At first I was a little disappointed with the drips and bubbles that were left by the thick coats the painters were using (if I had done it, I would have been much more cautious and taken more time) but now I don’t even see them. Like I said, the white window frames feel pretty invisible and I look right past them.

Here’s the Before and After!







Don’t you love how I cleaned for these photos last year? Ugh, hindsight is always 20/20.

I think the impact is still pretty big…even with a messy bedroom :)

Now, I’d say these windows look like they need window treatments!!

If you give a mouse a cookie…I’m in trouble.

Renter’s idea:

If you can’t paint your window frames do you have the patience to contact paper them? The task would involve cutting a lot of strips, but I’m so happy with my new white frames I would consider the time intensive contact paper task as a temporary solution as a renter. Just a thought!

2 thoughts on “Wondering about Window Whitening

  1. Pingback: Nurseries in NYC: How Do They Do It? | Tickled in NYC

  2. Pingback: Neutralize It | Tickled in NYC

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