What You Need to Know When Replacing a Window in an Existing Wall
When it comes to home repair projects, few solutions can create a more dramatic change than replacing your home windows. But while many other improvements can be handled with a little bit of elbow grease and a good blueprint, replacing a home window needs significant work and a bit of technical know-how.
So, replacing your windows is no easy job. You’ll want to identify what type of window you’ll be using, the specific steps required for replacing the window based on the size of the opening, and what items it will take to build the proper fit for your new window. Here are a few thoughts you may wish to think about:
What is Your Frame’s Condition?
The condition, or even presence, of the window frame is the first significant factor in matching the correct type of window to your replacement job. If you are building a new window frame, removing a damaged frame, or otherwise tearing the wall down to the studs, choose new construction windows, also referred to as full frame replacement windows. Pocket replacement windows can be placed in projects where the window frame is not being replaced, is in good condition and properly leveled.
The size of your window will also play a role in which kind of window you should use. Replacing a window with a window that is an equal size will make a pocket replacement window more likely. Still, upgrading your window to a larger size will mean taking out the previous frame and building a new frame to fit your larger window as part of a full frame installation. Because of that, a full frame replacement window will be demanded for the job.
Removing the Old Frame
Selecting a full frame replacement window, as the name suggests, typically calls for replacing the current window frame, sashes and screen. This can typically be accomplished with a utility knife, screwdrivers, pry bar, hammer, putty knife and circular saw, depending on your existing window.
To cushion your home exterior trim when taking out the frame, place a block of wood between the wall material and window, and then use a pry bar to clear away the old window trim.
Full Frame Window Options
Two window options can meet your needs when working on a full frame window installation: Nail fin windows and block frame windows.
Nail fin windows are common in new construction projects, or any project where the walls will be taken down to the frame (studs). These windows include a thin piece of metal connected to the window itself that runs around the outer edges of the window frame. When installing the window to a new frame, this nail fin joins the window directly to the house’s studs and is unseen between the interior and exterior of your home.
Adding a nail fin window can be both labor-intensive and may require the construction of a new window frame or removal of siding so the person placing the window can attach the nail fin to the studs. Nail fin windows are easier to install in new construction (for example, when adding a room to your house), as the window is put in before the rest of the wall is finished around it. Also, if you are wanting to add a nail fin window to a present wall in a section of the house where a stone or brick exterior would also have to be removed, the job might not be worth the time required.
Block frame windows offer an option for situations where nail fin windows would be more difficult to install. These windows are created without a nail fin and are designed to be placed inside existing window flashing (the part of the window that includes material to prevent water from entering into your walls) with little new construction work. This makes block frame windows a standard replacement for many older homes that presently have a window structure built or walls with siding or brick exteriors that would otherwise have to be damaged or removed to place a nail fin window.
Using Your Existing Frame
Replacement pocket windows are a little different than full frame replacement windows and are created to be added inside an existing window frame. While the existing window sashes and exterior stops of the window should be uninstalled for the new window to be installed, pocket replacements allow homeowners to maintain the original frame, trim, siding and casing.
Just as with full frame window replacement, the home exterior surrounding the window opening will impact how the pocket replacement process works, this time with less steps. As opposed to full frame replacement window removal, most of the existing sash, hinges and operating hardware will be attached with screws that must be uninstalled before removing the head, jamb and sill stops with a pry-bar. Like the full frame replacement window, adding a piece of wood to safeguard your wall exterior when taking out the old window is a sensible way to help avoid any accidental damage.
After pulling out the existing sashes and inspecting and prepping the opening, the replacement window can be installed into the opening and existing frame. Make sure to plumb, level and square the window at each step of the installation to make certain your window has a proper, balanced fit.
Consult with a Professional Installer
The steps necessary to replace a window in an existing wall require a clear vision of your design goals and a precise installation of your window. You can review detailed step-by-step installation plans based on both the style of window, as well as the type of window opening, at install.pella.com.
Even with these illustrated instructions, most homeowners discover that the idea of unintended damage to their home (as well as the time, cost and labor required) make window installation a project they’d rather not undertake. Planning with a professional home window installation expert, like those at Pella of Victoria, offers the technical knowledge and know-how to do the job correctly.
No matter where you are in your home window replacement plans, get in touch with a Pella professional today. Even if you are thinking about replacing a home window on your own, a professional can help you choose what installation method is best for your home and discuss installation plans.