Window Replacement is an important project that can increase a home’s value. It’s also a complex decision process that requires research into brands, models, and styles.
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To ensure that you get the right size replacement window, it is important to start by accurately measuring your existing window frame. Ideally, you’ll want to have an expert take these measurements for you. It will make the process much more straightforward.
Start by positioning your tape measure horizontally across the existing window frame at three points. This will give you the width measurement for the rough opening. Make sure to measure at both left and right side jambs as well as the bottom. The smallest number of these three measurements will be your rough opening width measurement.
You’ll also need to take the height and depth measurements for the rough opening. To do this, use your tape measure to position it diagonally from the inside corner of the top right side of the existing window frame to the inside corner of the lower left side of the window frame and record these measurements. Next, measure the distance between the head jamb (the vertical piece of trim on each side) and the sill (the bottom horizontal piece of trim). Finally, measure the distance from the bottom of the header jamb to the ground.
Once you have these measurements, add a half inch to both the width and the height. This allowance will ensure that the new window you order fits properly in your existing window opening and doesn’t leave any gaps. Additionally, it will allow for a bead of flexible sealant or caulking around the edges of the new window to prevent air leaks.
Aside from ensuring that your measurements are accurate, it is important to check that the window frame opening is square and level before ordering any new windows. Often, older homes are not square and this can lead to problems when installing replacement windows. A quick test with a level will confirm this.
Another tip from DunRite’s owner, Sal Sucato, is to subtract 3/8 of an inch from the width and height measurements before placing your product orders. This little bit of insurance gives the installer room to trim and adjust the window when it is set in place and will help accommodate for any shifting of the house over time.
When you replace windows, it’s important that the new window is both level and plumb to avoid gaps, water leaks, and poor energy efficiency. Installing a replacement window correctly takes time and expertise. This is why many homeowners hire a professional home improvement contractor to perform the window replacement.
The first step in the process is to remeasure the opening for the new window. This is important because the window opening may be larger or smaller than the original window. Unless this is remeasured, a new window that is ordered to the exact measurements of the old one would be too large in some corners and too small in others. This could make the window difficult to set into the opening properly and would not allow it to square vertically and horizontally correctly.
Once the opening has been remeasured, the trim boards around the window must be removed. This can be a messy job, but it should be done as carefully as possible to minimize damage to the existing wall and trim board. The existing sash should also be removed before installing the new window. This can be done by carefully removing the old sash and pulling the sash weight cords out of their grooves. The sash weight pulleys can be reinstalled if needed, but the sash should not be pushed in until after the wood interior stops have been replaced.
Before the new window is installed, the installer should apply a bead of elastomeric caulk around the inside edges of the exterior casings and blind stop moldings. This prevents water from seeping through the gaps between the window frame and the framed opening.
The installer should also check that the new window is level and plumb in the framed opening. Shims (long, thin beams with a slight wedge to them) are used to shift the gap and level the window. This will be a good opportunity to ensure the side jambs are straight, too. The installer should measure diagonally across the window from each corner and adjust the window until the measurements are equal.
Many homeowners are reluctant to replace their windows if they don’t think the new window will fit in well with the existing style or color of the home. This is usually due to concerns about impacting the house’s character and the condition of the existing frames, especially if they are very rotted or otherwise compromised. In these cases, full frame replacement is often recommended. This means the old windows and sash are removed, the frame is rebuilt, insulation is installed, and the new window is inserted into the opening. It takes more time, materials and labor to complete, but it can be a good alternative if the current window isn’t functioning well or is too damaged for repair.
Across the industry, about 80% of window replacements are insert windows. This method involves removing the original window and its sash, and installing a new window with a trim casing around it. This leaves the interior and exterior woodwork intact, which makes it the most user-friendly option. It’s also the best choice if you want to change the style, type or shape of the window to something other than what was originally there.
If you choose this option, be prepared for the job to take more than one day. The crew will need to remove your existing sash, drywall and molding to get to the window frame. Before the crew arrives, you should move floor lamps and other hangings from the walls to prevent them from being knocked over, and cover furniture and other valuables. Ask the crew to place boards over any areas where they’re likely to scrape or damage your home’s finish, and lay down drop cloths in any areas where they will be working.
With the window ledge in place, you can measure and cut the side window casings to size. Start at the bottom of your window and use a straight edge to ensure the wall is perfectly level; nail each casing in place with an Arrow Fastener pneumatic brad nailer. Once the casing is in place, fill in any nail holes or mitered corners with wood filler.
When you’re ready to replace your windows, a qualified contractor can recommend different specs based on your budget and the amount of shade or sunlight each wall gets. They can also offer recommendations for window styles that suit your home’s aesthetic.
After the windows are installed, routine maintenance is essential to keep them in good condition and functioning at optimal levels. This includes checking for cracks, chips and stains. In addition to preventing moisture damage, this routine care will help your windows look their best and boost your curb appeal.
Brand new windows typically require less maintenance than older ones. However, the window frame material and style will influence how often they need attention. Wood frames are more prone to moisture damage, and should be regularly checked for moisture leaks and open seams that allow water to seep inside the home. Moisture build-up can lead to mildew and wood rot, and may require sanding and repainting.
Window frames made from vinyl, aluminum and metal are less prone to moisture problems, but they should still be inspected. These types of frames are generally easier to maintain than wood frames, since they do not need sanding and repainting as frequently. Sash tracks and sills should be kept free of dirt, debris and spider webs to prevent the accumulation of moisture.
Your new windows should be properly insulated to prevent moisture and heat loss, which will reduce your energy costs and help maintain a stable indoor temperature. Insufficient insulation can cause a gap between the window frame and the casing, which is both unsightly and an inefficient barrier to heat or cold. A professional can use elastomeric caulk to fill gaps less than 1/4 inch wide, but wider gaps should first be stuffed with foam-rubber backer rod.
It’s important to hire a reputable professional to install your replacement windows, and perform routine maintenance as necessary. Having properly sized, installed windows not only improves your home’s appearance and energy efficiency, but can also increase its value. Before beginning any work on your replacement project, your professional can assess the state of your foundation and make sure that your windows will be structurally sound.