How to paint uPVC windows – 5 steps to give tired plastic frames a fresh new look

Learn how to paint uPVC windows to update old frames on a budget

distressed wood of exterior of house with graphite window frame and window boxes
(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Joanna Henderson)

Replacing tired old uPVC windows is seriously expensive, but the good news is you can paint them yourself. Work with what you've got and save your frames from landfill with our handy guide on how to paint uPVC windows for long-lasting results.

How to paint uPVC windows

Whether you have white or wood-effect plastic window frames, you can totally freshen them up – although you will need a steady hand (and some dry weather). If you've got wooden or aluminium frames, which, admittedly, are easier to paint, hop over to our general guide on how to paint windows.

villa with windows

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

You will need

  • Sponges
  • Cloth
  • Primer
  • 2-inch brush
  • Decorator's tap
  • Newspaper
  • Exterior paint
  • A steady hand

Painting uPVC windows – step-by-step

1. Clean the frames

First, clean the frames thoroughly. This is an important step so don't rush through it if you want a really smooth finish.

Remove any dust and cobwebs with a clean cloth, brush, or dry sponge. Then, use warm soapy water and a kitchen sponge to remove any grease and grime. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.

2. Tape it up

Apply masking tape or a high-quality decorator's tape onto the glass – such as Frog Tape, at Amazon – to prevent paint splatters. You can also cover glass and window furniture with newspaper for extra protection.

If you do get paint on the glass and don't manage to wipe it away while wet, just wet the glass with a window cleaner and remove the dried paint with a scraper (scraping dry glass can leave scratches).

off-white interior uPVC windows in a grey and green kitchen

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Robert Sanderson)

3. Prime with an all-surface primer

After taping them up, you'll need to paint the window frames with an all-surface primer, such as the Zinsser 123 primer for all surfaces, at Amazon. 'Many paint manufacturers claim that you won't need a primer if you use their paint, comments painting and decorating expert Pat Gilham from MyJobQuote.

'But if you want an excellent sturdy, long-lasting finish, a primer makes sense. This is especially true for exterior uPVC, as a primer will ensure the paint withstands the elements,' the painting expert adds.

1930s house exterior with uPVC windows

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Robert Sanderson)

4. Paint the window frames

When the primer has dried (the Zinsser primer takes around 30 minutes), paint the frames with an exterior eggshell or gloss in a colour of your choice. The paint can be water-based or oil-based, but water-based is of course better for the planet. 

Our paint ideas will help inspire you if you want to go for something bold but aren't sure what you want. Once the first coat of exterior paint has dried, apply a second coat. 

The only major issue you might run into is if you're painting wood-effect uPVC windows white or a pale colour, as it may take more coats to stop the grain effect from showing through.

5. Remove the tape

Remove the tape before the paint is 100% dry for a crisp line. And there we have it! Banish the brown uPVC without spending thousands on replacement windows, and do your bit for the environment by saving your old frames from going to landfill.

uPVC windows

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Robert Sanderson)

 What paint can I use on uPVC windows? 

An exterior eggshell or gloss will be suitable for uPVC windows. For the inside, use interior paint rather than exterior paint.

Does painting uPVC windows last?

Your painted uPVC windows should last for years to come, as although they have to withstand the weather, they won't get bashed around like our front door might be. Plastic window frames will also expand and contract less than wooden frames will due to changes in temperature, so they should stay looking good for a while. Keep them looking their best by following our guide to how to clean windows.

 'If done correctly, your painted uPVC windows should last at least five years,' says Ash Read at Living Cozy. Poor preparation will result in the paint having a short life span.

How do you prepare uPVC windows for painting?

Clean and dry your windows before applying primer to the window frames. Some experts recommends lightly sanding the uPVC before painting to create a key for the paint to adhere to, while others argue that this can damage the plastic, meaning the windows don't last as long.

Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.