How to Refinish a Wood Window With Linseed Oil

Wood windows need refinishing occasionally and linseed oil can be a good way to protect the windows against the effects of sun and rain on wood.

Stripping Old Finish

Wood window frames add warmth to a room.Wood window frames add warmth to a room.
Linseed oil is easy to apply. The surface may need to be stripped if a sealer like varnish or polyurethane was used in the past on the window frames. Linseed oil will not be able to penetrate a non-porous sealer.

Inspect the window frames to assess the finish. If the frames have been coated with a varnish product in the past, the finish needs to be removed before the linseed oil can be applied. Apply a small drop of linseed oil on a spot on the window frame to see whether it penetrates. If the oil sinks in, chances are it has not been treated with a sealer.

Move any furniture that is in front of the window and lay down the drop cloths when working indoors.

Put on protective gloves to apply the stripper according to the directions on the can or jar. Many paint removers have toxic fumes and when working inside, open another window so that plenty of fresh air enters the room. Make sure you remove all the sealer by opening the window to apply the stripper to the bottom or side rail of the window.

Use a scraper to remove the loosened finish. Wash the surface of the frame with a wet sponge or cloth. If you are working outside, you can use the hose to spray the stripping solution off the window frames.

Let the cleaned and stripped window frames dry thoroughly.

Use a fine sandpaper to prepare the surface of the wood for the linseed oil.

Applying Linseed Oil

Sand the window frames lightly to disengage any embedded dirt or dust. Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.

Pour sufficient linseed oil into a container and use a brush or a rag to apply the linseed oil on the window frames. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes before wiping any remaining oil from the surface. Clean any linseed oil from the glass at the same time. You may need acetone to remove the linseed oil if it dries on the glass.

Place all used rags and brushes in a pail of water when you are finished with them, even if you intend to throw them away. Linseed oil creates heat as it evaporates and if left to air-dry, the rags could create a fire. Let the applicators soak for a few days before throwing them away or cleaning for reuse.

Things You Will Need

  • Protective gloves (optional)
  • Drop cloths (optional)
  • Paint stripper (optional)
  • Scraper (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Hand-held broom or canned air (optional)
  • Linseed oil
  • Brush or rag
  • Bucket of water
  • Acetone (optional)


  • You may need to repeat the application several times to properly seal the window, especially on the outside where the sun and rain create harsh conditions for wood window frames. Allow the windows to dry 24 hours between coats.

About the Author

Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.