Friday, November 28, 2014

Painting 1950's Aluminum Windows

So here is my kitchen window. All our windows are the original 1950 aluminum windows the house was built with. The glass panes are held in only with caulk. No joke. We had one blow out and shatter when we had a windy thunderstorm. 
Here's a close-up of one. The cons: they're ugly, inefficient, and would cost a fortune that we don't have right now to replace. Especially with a baby on the way. The pros: if a pane breaks, we just drive down to Home Depot and have them cut a piece of glass for us and we caulk it back in. And as it turns out, if you're feeling a little stabby over the appearance of them, you can paint them. 
So I started by caulking edges of the window against the trim for a clean finish. Then I began painting the frames glossy black, inspired by a few online tutorials and a post by The Nester on her wooden-framed windows she painted black. The consensus of the tutorials I searched said to tape off only the trim, as painter's tape doesn't stick well to glass, and just score and scrape the glass after the paint dries. So that's what I did. (And the ugly deposits that had stained the glass around the metal framing also came off with scraping, so two birds killed with one stone.)
Sadly, when I replaced the bamboo blinds, the black just looked ... wrong. Because the black contrasted from the surrounding white trim, it drew unwanted attention to the fact that the blinds were definitely not custom, and didn't quite fill out the window's opening perfectly. See the sides of the frames that are visible beside the blinds up there? Not the effect I was going for.
So I started over with the white trim color. This is after one application. Really felt like I was back where I'd started here. 
But by late in the evening, the third coat had adequately covered the black underneath, and I started scraping paint off the glass. Then I hung the blinds. And I LOVED it. 
Here's the other kitchen window painted white. (Spoiler: those cabinets are the next project during this holiday...stay tuned)
Honestly, in person these windows look new and clean, especially since the scraping removed most of the old staining on the panes. They're also easier to wipe clean than the old aluminum surface, which was not as glossy. They even make the whole kitchen look brighter and more finished, and for the cost (free, since we already had the trim paint, caulk, and painters tape), it was well worth the effort. I know some will think this was pretty tacky of me to do - paint aluminum windows instead of replacing them - and I agree it was definitely not the ideal option.  Believe me, I'd rather have more efficient, newer windows, both for our comfort and for resale value. But since we didn't have the finances to replace them before the baby comes, I was willing to take the risk. And I am so glad I did. 

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