Painting and Finishing

Thank you for purchasing a hand-crafted interior transom from Transoms Direct. Finishing our products, for the most part, does not require any special technique or skill. We care a great deal about the beauty and durability of the final installation, and in order to ensure that your paint, or stain job goes smoothly, we would like to offer a few hints on how to finish one of our transoms.


All of our products have been sanded to a uniform smooth finish before shipping. Still, it may be necessary to remove any “flashing” (sharp edges and loose wood burrs) which are a result of the machining process. For this, we recommend light hand sanding with fine (150-220 grit) sandpaper. Be sure to sand with the woodgrain to avoid sanding marks. Note: Do not allow sandpaper to contact glass as this will damage the surface.


You may note that the individually cut glass lights fit loosely in the frame. This is normal, and due to necessary glass and manufacturing tolerances. It does not affect the overall performance of the transom. But, depending on the final location of the transom, you may wish to use the paint (or clear finish) to “set” the glass in the frame. To set glass, simply allow a small amount of the primer, paint, or clear finish to “flood” onto the glass and work into the gap between the frame and glass. This will fill the void and act as an adhesive between the glass and wood components. Any excess can then be scraped off of the glass with a single edge razor blade. Note: Some textured glass requires careful masking before finishing as razor cleanup may not be possible.


Our transoms readily accept most high quality primers, paints, stains and urethanes. As with any wood product, sanding between coats will provide the best possible end result. Whether you decide to apply the final finish using either spray or brush application, we recommend brushing at least one coat to fill any small voids between parts. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when applying any finish.

Masking: Masking is always recommended with any sort of textured or etched glass. Non-transfer type painter’s tape should be applied to glass to prevent finish from getting into small voids, and to avoid having to scrape. When masking contoured muntin patterns, excess tape can be closely trimmed with a sharp razor blade. Ensure that the edges of the tape are tightly adhered to glass to prevent finish from being drawn under tape by capillary action.

Priming: Any suitable wood primer works well with our products. After application, fine sanding will cut down standing wood grain, and helps to provide a smooth and uniform final finish. Hint: Primers tend to bond to glass better than paint (making scraping harder), so try to avoid getting very much primer on the glass. It is better to use the finish paint as your “flood coat”. This will make scraping easier.

Painting: We have found that it is usually easier to paint and scrape many of our more intricate transoms before installation. Lay transom flat while painting, and use your finish paint as your “flood coat” to set the glass by allowing some of the paint to lap over onto glass (usually 1/8 to 1/4 inch). The thicker the better as this will make final scraping easier (especially with latex paints). Hint: It is best to scrape the glass immediately after the final coat has dried. The longer the paint cures, the harder it is to remove.

Staining: For initial preparation, fine sanding of frame and muntin components is recommended to ensure uniform grain and porosity before staining. We have also found that wood conditioner will help to provide a consistent stain base and minimize color variations due to grain. During stain application, any residual glue (usually at the joints) will appear as light spots. When one or more of these spots occur, simply scrape or sand the light area until stain penetrates into woodgrain. Just as with painting, we recommend staining transoms before installation. This makes it is easier to control the finish process and clean up any residue on the glass.

Clear finishes: We strongly recommend masking glass before applying any clear finish. Clear finishes can adhere much more tenaciously and dry much harder than paints, and are therefore much harder to scrape from glass. Just as with paints and primers, clear finishes may also be used to set glass. A trick here is to allow a small gap (1/16”) between the glass masking and the wood components. This gap will allow the clear finish to penetrate into the glass groove without getting too far onto the glass. See advice in “masking” and “tolerances” sections regarding glass protection and masking.

Scraping: When properly applied, paint can be easily scraped from glass after finishing. The best technique is to use a sharp razor to trace the perimeter of all components. This creates a clean cut line between the wood parts and glass surface. After the cut line is completed, hold razor against glass at a shallow angle and drag it under the paint to remove. Hint: Using a glass cleaner to pre-wet the surface will help razor to slide along glass surface and avoid possible scratches.


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Kind Words From Our Customers

"Transoms were installed yesterday, and the trim guys are now running casing. They really look GREAT!!! My wife and I are so glad that we decided to go with Transoms Direct and couldn't be more pleased with your service and the quality of product." --S.W., Pawleys Island, SC