Prepping Area Around Window Before Painting

Answered by Jeffrey ~ October 1, 2010 ~ Comments

I'm working on repainting a room. I've repaired a few wall areas where the wall was brittle etc. from moisture (house is 60 years old). There's an area alongside the window where I've chipped out some brittleness also. Is there some type of filler or compound I could fill in there? The area would be too tricky to use joint compound.

Mike H. ~ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Mike, I'm not quite sure what you mean about the area next to the window being too tricky for joint compound. If your house is 60 years old, I imagine that it has wood window trim around the interiors of all the windows. I would also think that with the age of your home you probably have sheetrock walls instead of plaster, but I could be wrong there.

If you're concerned about using joint compound up close to the window trim, that shouldn't be a problem as the compound can be sanded off the edge of the trim as soon as it drys. It the issue is that the hole is large, then the best route is probably going to be removing the window trim and patching the hole.

The first step in removing the trim is to cut all the caulk with a utility knife; there is going to be caulk where the outside of the trim meets the wall and on the inside where it meets the window frame. Be careful the blade doesn't slip or you could seriously injure yourself. You should use a pry bar with a very thin edge to begin taking off the trim as you are going to want to reuse the trim when you're finished with the patch. I actually use a wood chisel with a bad edge to do this sort of thing as it's easy to get it started under the trim. When you have the trim separated from the wall a little at the top just work your way down the wall gradually. The secret to keeping the trim in one piece is to do just a little at a time and don't force anything.

Once the trim is off you can patch the hole and I would still use joint compound, but you may need several coats if the hole is large. You may also need a piece of drywall or mesh tape if the hole is large. I think I would wait and not put the trim back up until you've done your first coat of interior painting. That is when I usually survey the entire room to see how my painting prep went as sometimes defects aren't completely visible until there is a coat of paint over them. You'll then have an opportunity to put another coat of joint compound on the patch if needed without pulling the trim off again.

When you're satisfied the repair is good install the piece of window trim and caulk all the edges before applying your second coat of paint. I apologize if I'm not understanding exactly what you mean by it being tricky. There must be many very good paint stores around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; you might want to take a digital picture of your issue and show it to someone at one of the stores and they can make sure you get the right type of patch material.

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