Painting aluminium windows in high-rise apartments can be undertaken but there are a number of restrictions because the body corporate is responsible for the outside of the building.
Most older apartments seem to have either mission brown windows or bronze anodized windows. When you are looking at renovating an older style apartment and you would like to change the colour of the aluminium windows you are only allowed to change the colour of the inside of the windows as the body corporate is responsible for the maintenance and up keep of all windows on the outer perimeter of the building and part of their responsibility is to maintain uniformity. The body corporate can’t allow owners painting aluminium windows different colours.
The body corporate of your building is responsible for your windows maintenance including replacement when the windows are worn out, however when they replace windows usually the body corporate will replace them with a modern version in the same colour.
If you want a different colour in the past you really didn’t have a choice if you wanted a quality powder coat like finish in a different colour. There is now an alternative if you can source a specialist painter who has two-pac spray painting experience in high-rise apartments. I qualify this by saying “experience in high rise apartment environment” because taking out a window opening high up in an upper level apartment multiplies the factors you need to take into consideration to produce a quality product as a contractor.
When painting aluminium windows in an apartment setting you have a number of complicating factors, which make the process take longer such as: Limited space to spread out painted doors and sashes for drying, driving wind is prevalent on higher floors most of the time and it takes longer to set up on a daily bases, plus the space restrictions limit the number of men you can have working at any point in time especially doing the most labour intensive part of the job being the preparation.
There are two main steps to painting aluminium window frames and they are preparation and painting. It is important not to skimp on the preparation stage because this will affect the durability and quality of the finish. Preparation is where the inexperienced painter or DIY handy man falls down in.
PREPARATION FOR PAINTING ALUMINIUM WINDOWS
Preparation can be further broken down into cleaning, sanding and masking/ overspray protection of adjacent finished surfaces. I always recommend clients vacuum the window tracks before we arrive to remove any built up layers of dust and bugs. The frames need to be thoroughly cleaned using a solvent wash technique of wiping on a wax and grease solvent wash such as prepsol on with a clean cloth then off again quickly before the solvent evaporates with another clean cloth. It is best if this process is done in sections because if the solvent dries before wiping off then the grease and grim will remain.
Sanding the window frame surface before aluminium window painting is best done by hand and the coarseness of the sand paper will depend on the substrate and condition. It is recommended that 24 grit be used on non-chalking powder coated surfaces and 60 – 80 grit on anodized surfaces. After sanding the surface needs to be blown off with air to remove dust and dirt. It is also recommended that a further solvent wash be carried out just prior to painting.
Masking up and over spray protection of adjacent finished surfaces is imperative in a high-rise apartment environment setting. First off mask up the rubbers that hold the glass in place in each window frame, cover the glass using paper or plastic film. Also use film to protect the surrounds of each window from the edge of the window frame outwards along each side by about 500mm. Use plastic drop sheets as well as canvas drop sheets to protect the floors. Isolate the area off that you are going to paint by erecting a plastic wall between the ceiling and floor.
PAINTING ALUMINIUM WINDOWS
Paint application Using a two-pac three coat system and a HVLP spray gun. Apply a light primer sealer coat to the substrate, a single pac etch primer is recommended followed by two topcoats of a polyurethane (Acrathane). The two topcoats are best applied as four light coats to achieve the desired film thickness.
As a bonus you should look at overhauling the mechanical components of each window and sliding door. I suggest that you look at replacing all rollers, the weather felts in the frames and any broken springs causing the window latches to fall down to the bottom of each window.
So if you want to change the colour of your old aluminium windows then you may want to consider getting your windows painted by the specialist painters that other painters get in for painting aluminium windows.
Chris Vernon and his team at “Window Revival” are the specialist painters that other Painters use.