How to Fix Sticky Windows

Windows that open easily provide fresh air and an essential escape route in case of emergency.

When Paint Is the Problem

Excess dried paint may cause a window to stick.
A window that sticks instead of opening and closing smoothly quickly becomes an annoyance -- so much so that you may wind up leaving the window closed all the time. Rather than just living with the problem, in many cases you can fix it yourself, getting that window to open as easily as it was originally intended to. .

Step 1

Free a window bogged down by many layers of paint using a utility knife. Examine the area between the window sash and stop on sides of the window, from inside the room. Slide the utility knife between the sash and stop on both sides of the window.

Step 2

Wiggle the window and continue sliding the knife between sash and stop until the window moves freely. If it does not want to move, slide the edge of a putty knife into the space between the sash and stop and tap it gently with a hammer, repeating in several places until the window moves.

Step 3

Inspect the outside of the window if you suspect exterior paint is holding up its progress. Slide the utility knife between any areas that do not move freely on their own, graduating to using the putty knife and hammer when necessary.

When Humidity Is the Problem

Step 1

Loosen a wood-framed window swollen from humidity with a hair dryer and a candle. Plug in a hair dryer indoors and set it to low heat, aiming it at the sash on either side of the window.

Step 2

Wiggle the window as you dry out its wood sash until the window moves freely.

Step 3

Wipe dirt out of both vertical tracks in which the window glides using a soft cloth. Rub candle wax along the tracks while the window is open and again while it is closed. The wax helps keep the window moving freely.

Things You Will Need

  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Hammer
  • Soft cloth
  • Hair dryer
  • Candle


  • Keep the tracks free from dirt and debris to keep the window operating smoothly.
  • If some of the paint feels chunky or obstructive along the edge of the window sash, sand the excess paint gently with fine-grit sandpaper. Wipe the dust away with a soft cloth. You may have to remove the window stops to get at the edges of the windows with sandpaper.


  • Exercise caution or wear heavy work gloves when using a utility knife near the window sash, as the knife may cause injury if it slips.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.